Posted by: christinelaennec | February 12, 2013

The pointing hand: street signs in Aberdeen

Not long ago, Lorna commented that she likes the street signs in Aberdeen that have pointing hands.  I do, too, very much.  So I thought I would share them with you.

The Victorian parts of the city are graced with inset tiles spelling out the street names, and occasionally accompanied by a pointing hand.  Sometimes the hand is pointing the way to another place, as below:

Aberdeen street signs, with hand pointing to nearby square.

Aberdeen street signs, with hand pointing to nearby square.

Sometimes the pointing hands indicate where a street’s name changes (streets have a habit of doing that in Britain).

But other times, the hand appears when there can’t be any confusion.  For example, Braemar Place begins at a t-junction.  There’s no confusion about where the street begins, and yet the hand directs us along:

The hand points even when not strictly necessary.

The hand points even when not strictly necessary:  the start of Braemar Place, Aberdeen.

But I don’t mind.  I’m very fond of it!

I'm very fond of the pointing hand.

I’m very fond of the pointing hand.

I really like the care, attention and artistry that people used to put into everyday things.  And of course, they do occasionally still.  But I’m not sure any city council would decide to lavish money on such tiles today.



  1. What a lovely post about Aberdeen’s cheering signs, thank you! I remember wondering why it was that some signs had pointing fingers and others didn’t. As you say, it’s not necessarily because they’re needed, it almost seems quite random. I agree that it’s a great shame such artistry is seldom seen in new things nowadays, but I hope we can preserve these little treasures that make our environment so interesting.

  2. I suppose it all comes down to money, Christine. Although it possible to see limited funding used in imaginative ways in signage, ‘bland’ often appears to be the preferred option.

  3. How quaint! I love the street signs all over Europe – they add a certain charm that you don’t find anywhere else. ❤

  4. I am with you — the hurry-up slap on is the today’s world of signs no artistry involved.. least that’s what I’ve seen in most cases but I’ve have see in tourist places they put more into their signs…I enjoyed seeing these signs too..

  5. how very friendly and informative. I was surprised that they were tiles. such attention to detail and the pointing hand is just a bonus. 🙂

  6. Up here in the North East Corner the signage is reflecting whats around, we have boats on the signs. Sort of a fishy finger!

  7. I love Jill’s comment 🙂

    Recently, I found out that my blogging friend whose blog name is her name, Teresa Kasner, created a sketch that is on the Columbia River Highway signs on the way to Multnomah Falls.

    I also read this past week that Boring, Oregon where I live is seeking permission to post signs that pair it with Dull, Scotland 🙂

    Thanks for “pointing out” Aberdeen’s charming signs, Christine.


  8. Normally I don’t care for pointing fingers, but in this case, they are very useful and charming! Hope you are having a love-ly week! xx

  9. The pointing fingers are fun, and I, for one, don’t mind a little directional help!

  10. Thanks everyone! I’m glad you enjoyed them as much as I do. I don’t believe the pointing hand tiles are in Glasgow, but I could be wrong. I’ll miss them, anyway.

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