Aberdeen - 'The Prospect of Old Aberdien'

Slezer uses another spelling for Aberdeen in the title for this prospect - a different one from 'New Aberdene from the Block house'.

We view the city from the south. On the right, with a crowned tower, is Aberdeen University's King's College. To its left, you can just make out the High Street. The twin spires of St Machar's Cathedral in Old Aberdeen are in the distance.

Image from Theatrum Scotiae by John Slezer, 1693.

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  Read what Robert Sibbald wrote in Theatrum Scotiae about Old Aberdeen

To the Right Honourable GEORGE Earl of Aberdeen, Viscount of Trumartin, Lord Haddo, Mechlick, Tarvis and Kellie, &c.

Old Aberdeen

Aberdeen the Old is situated a Mile to the North of the New Town, commonly called Bon-accord, it hath its Name from its Situation, being placed at the Mouth of the Water of Don. The Name of the River sufficiently shews that the Picts who inhabited this part of the Country were of a Scythian Descent, for the River which by the Latins is called Danubius, by the Germans is called Dunave, by the Polonians Dunaum, by the Turks Tuna, being of a very same Name with our Don.

The River is remarkable for the Multitude of Salmon and Perches which are taken in it. About half a Mile from Old Aberdeen it hath a Bridge of one single Arch, which is both large and stately, it is made up for the most part of square hewen Stone, both the Ends of it being fixed on Rocks. By its crooked winding it breaks the force of the Stream, so that Nature it self seems to have made way for its Situation. A little below it Don enters into the Sea.

Above the Bridge two Miles, is a heap of Stone artificially cast in the Mouth of the Chanal for the easier catching of the Salmon. It is the Bishops Seat, and hath a Cathedral Church commonly called St. Machars, of a large and stately Structure; being built of hewn Stone by the several Bishops of that See. It anciently consisted of two Ranks of Stone Pillars, another cross Church and three Turrets, the greatest of which, was the Steeple, which was set upon Four Pillars of vaulted Works. In the Church likewise was a Library, but about the Year 1560 it was almost wholly destroyed, so that the Ruines do now only remain.

But the Chief Ornament of this Town is the King's College, placed on the South side of the Town, conspicuous beyond the rest of the Houses for the Neatness and Stateliness of its Structure. 'Tis Inferiour to no College in Scotland. One side of it is covered with Slate, the rest with Lead; the Church, and Turret or Steeple are of hewen Stone. The Windows were of old remarkable for painted Glass, and some reliques of their ancient Splendor do yet remain. Here is a fine Monument of Bishop Elphingston. The Steeple besides others hath two Bells of an extraordinary Bigness. The Top of it is vaulted with a double cross Arch, above which is a King's Crown, having eight Corners upheld by as many Pillars of Stone, a round Globe of Stone with two gilded Crosses closing the Crown. In the Year 1631 it was overturned by a Storm, but shortly after was built in a more stately Form. It was begun by Bishop Forbes, continued by William Gourdon Dr. of Physick, and helped on by the largesses of several Noblemen and Gentlemen of that Country. Close to the Church there is a Library provided with many Books, much enriched by those which Dr. Henry Scougal, Professor of Divinity there, and the Right Reverend Dr. Patr. Scougal, Bishop of Aberdeen, his Father, did lately bequeath to it.

This College was Founded by Bishop Elphingston, Anno Dom. 1500 and the greatest part of the Work was likewise Built by him; but King James the IV assumed the Patronage of it to himself, whence it is called the King's College. In it there is a Primar or Principal, a Professor of Theology, a Professor of the Civil Law, a Professor of Physick, a Sub-Principal, who is also a Professor of Philosophy, three other Philosophy Professors, and a Professor of the Languages. This College and that in the New Town make up one University, called the University of King Charles.

Who was Robert Sibbald?

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