I've explored more of Aberdeen, and feel better about how to get from one place to another without resorting to the tiny, well-worn paper map in my pocket, or (last resort) using mobile data to get there with Google Maps! The downtown area of Aberdeen has city-wide wifi, which is great. This is a perfectly walkable city--15 minutes from my flat to downtown, or to school.
Last Saturday was Doors Open day in Aberdeen, when the public is invited to tour many of the public buildings that are normally off limits. I thought I'd see a half-dozen or so of the many interesting places listed. I made it to exactly one, and had a wonderful time doing it. The Kirk of St. Nicholas (the "Mither Kirk" of Aberdeen) was where I spent several delightful hours.
I arrived at the church door just in time--a carillon concert was starting in a moment. I ran up the steps of the bell tower, and slightly winded but more amazed, watched the quietly energetic carillonneur, Ronald Leith, as he played a variety of pieces, including some well-known Scottish airs. He's done this for 40 years, and it's a joy to watch him, and even more, to listen.
I climbed still higher, keeping a good handhold on the stone wall and whatever else was at hand. The stairs became steeper and more narrow. Definitely one-way traffic here--people coming down had the right of way. I wasn't quite sure where these stairs were going, but I soon realized that I was behind the face of the clocks at the top of the bell tower. (You can continue on up a ladder--I elected not to--but it's windowless and dark up there, according to a few who braved it.) The clock room was beautiful, though.
The hard part was coming back down through the trap door in the floor, placing each foot carefully on each narrow wooden stair as I descended. But I made it without any trouble, and went on to see other wonders in the church.
A significant portion of the church is being excavated, as a thousand years of history revealed themselves below the floors of the East Kirk during renovations. We were allowed to walk through the excavations, which were pretty amazing. As I picked my way down the catwalks into the site, I felt like I was traveling back in time 400, 500, 1000 years, to 1700, 1500, 1100, and perhaps earlier. The archaeological team continues to uncover ancient walls and artifacts.
Overall view of the archaeological site:
|Exposed medieval wall under current foundation|
Right: View looking into St. Mary's Chapel, from the excavation site below
Left: Don't drink that coffee. (It's incredibly dusty at the site!)
Right: Everything is carefully tagged and catalogued.
There's much more, but that's probably plenty for the purpose of this blog. Email me if you have more questions or want to see more pictures.
St. Mary's Chapel is also being renovated, with some lovely stained-glass windows, as well as some ancient creatures at the base of each arch in the ceilings.
On my way home, I glimpsed an interesting person waiting to cross the street, perhaps a visitor from past centuries?
More later...I believe I've been "blatherin' awa'," as they say around here. Enough for now.
Next episode: a typical walk from my flat to the campus; a short walk to the North Sea coast; a few pictures from in and around Aberdeen.
Our class is on a Field School expedition next week, so I will have lots of tales to tell after we get back from that trip!
P.S. Let me know if you have trouble with the short videos, or if they work correctly? (I'm new to this.)