Posted by: christinelaennec | February 8, 2011

Curvaceous granite

I realise that sounds like an oxymoron, but just let me show you some of the amazing stonework that can be found in Aberdeen:

Curving decorative stonework on Ferryhill Library, Aberdeen.

Older Aberdonians have spoken to me of their pride in the granite industry, which was once one of the mainstays of Aberdeen’s economy.  My darling neighbour Mrs. Mary Morrison (who inspired my poem Loving Memory, as well as Mrs. Milne) had worked in the office of a granite yard, and could often name the different types of granite and where they came from.

The Victorian granite merchants and masons used their own houses to advertise their product and their craft:

House of John Morgan, master mason, Queen Street, Aberdeen. The house was completed in 1886. Photos from not-so-long-ago show a lovely garden in front.

This house was the work of one of Aberdeen’s most important Victorian architects, John Pirie, who designed much of the architecture of Aberdeen’s West End, and in particular Queen’s Cross Church.  There’s a very good article about the firm Pirie and Clyne, and their close relationship with John Morgan, here.

Close-up of decoration, sundial and historical plaque. I like the organic forms - leaves, flowers, and the curling tendril below the sill of the bay window.

Even on much more modest buildings you can see beautiful granite carving.  This one is also graced by a lovely Art Nouveau iron railing:

Top storey of what I believe is called a tenement house (i.e. flats - no implication of dire poverty). George Street, Aberdeen.

So if you’re in Aberdeen, keep an eye out for stone flowers, leaves, shells and feathers.  A good rule of thumb here is:  look up!



  1. Nice post, Christine. One of my favourite pastimes is looking up. Some of the sights are truly amazing.

  2. lovely pictures of Aberdeen. i have never been there but the buildings look really nice. i was having a read up on where the granite came from for Aberdeen and it says that the Aberdeen granite was used for Waterloo Bridge and the terraces of the Houses of Parliament in London.

  3. Hello Christine, lovely post and beautiful pictures, I love these kind of buildings..

  4. beautiful stone work indeed. I’ll need to remember to look up more often, I’m probably missing so much.

  5. Mmmm, granite bliss. My paternal grandfather built a house on Speyside with granite ‘imported’ from an Aberdeen quarry. I will try to post a photo of it – it’s no longer in our family, sadly.

  6. Oh my! You are surrounded by lovely, impressive architecture. Lucky you.

  7. Dear all, I’m so glad you enjoyed this post, and thank you for your comments.

    Martin and Lisa – you’re so right, it’s amazing what we miss when we don’t look up!

    ajb – you’ve reminded me that I meant to include something about where the granite comes from. Yes, it was once very much in demand. The subject of a future post!

    Linda, yes do please post a photo of your grandfather’s house!

    Erna and Relyn, it’s so nice when other people enjoy the things that make us happy. I think most people in Aberdeen take the architecture here completely for granted.

  8. Thanks for this post, Christine. I think that Morgan house is just so beautiful! Not just the magnificent stonework, but the overall design and proportions and shapes, and stuff I don’t understand or knowingly observe but which makes such a big impact on me as a viewer.

    • Oldblack, I know just what you mean. I’m sure there is terminology for explaining the effect of the whole – but a picture is worth a thousand words!

  9. I used to walk past and admire that house every week day on my hike from Kepplestone to St Andrews St while studying at RGIT. Like the last poster, I love everything about it, the shape, details, overall effect. Thanks for the memories!

    • Hello Kate! I’m glad you had a wee “walk down memory lane”. It’s such a grand house for a rather quiet street, so it’s nice to know it’s been properly appreciated.

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