Posted by: christinelaennec | March 26, 2013

A chapel to Our Lady on the Brig o’ Dee

Over a year ago, at the start of 2012, Michael and I left the ailing Dafter to go for an afternoon walk down to the Brig o’ Dee.  I never did make a post to show you, and as it’s even more wintry this morning – actually snowing (and lying) outside this morning – I thought I might as well today!   Although the weather is still wintry and we’ve had a very snowy March, we no longer have the beautiful pearly low light of January.  I think it was about 2 pm when we went for our walk.  Here is a photo looking towards the centre of town and thus the harbour.  We’re about two miles from the North Sea here.

Those who know Aberdeen will recognise the obelisk in the Duthie Park.  It was originally in Marischal College, and was paid for by medical students to honour James McGrigor.  He was more or less the founder of medical studies in the city.

View of the River Dee (towards town and the Duthie Park) from the Brig o' Dee, January 2012.

View of the River Dee (towards town and the Duthie Park) from the Brig o’ Dee.  Aberdeen, January 2012.

You’ll see that the river was quite high the day of our walk.  As it’s so close to the sea, it fluctuates with the tides.  Here’s a view from the South side of the river:

The Brig o' Dee, Aberdeen, January 2012.

The Brig o’ Dee, Aberdeen, January 2012.

I knew that the Brig o’ Dee was an old bridge.  What I hadn’t realised before our walk was that in the 1530s there was a chapel to the Virgin Mary built on it.  The sign commemorating the chapel says that it was at the Southern entrance to the bridge, and that it was built for travellers to “make their devotions”.  Sir Gordon of Abergeldie complained that it was an obstruction and violated his fishing rights, but apparently his opposition didn’t prevail with the City Council.

The side of the bridge has coats of arms along it, added as the bridge was constructed in the 1520s.  You can see one of them in the photo below:

The Brig o' Dee, Aberdeen, January 2012.

The Brig o’ Dee, Aberdeen, January 2012.

Isn’t the reflected sky in the water beautiful?  It’s amazing to think that this ancient bridge is still the main entrance to the city from the south.

The Brig o'Dee, Aberdeen, looking East towards town.  January 2012.

The Brig o’Dee, Aberdeen, looking East towards town. January 2012.

In 1560, at the time of the Reformation, the silver statue of the Virgin Mary that stayed in the chapel was apparently smuggled to safety.  The sign below explains that most probably William Laing, an Aberdeen merchant, took it out of the country in the early 1600s.  To this day it is in the church of Notre Dame de Finistère in Brussels.

But Our Lady wasn’t forgotten in Aberdeen.  There is a chapel to her (“Our Lady of Aberdeen”) in St. Mary’s Cathedral.  The large photograph on the right of the sign is of the statue of her there.

Sign explaining about the chapel

Sign explaining about the chapel on the Brig o’ Dee

So although it isn’t on the bridge any longer, there is still a chapel to Our Lady of Aberdeen here.

I was really surprised to receive a little notification from WordPress yesterday that my blog was three years old.  Gosh, when I think back to what I imagined was before me then!  I thought the Dafter was on the verge of much more independence, I imagined I would have more time to work on my creative writing, and more time to spend with Michael.  I had no inkling of the Dafter’s suffering both by being bullied at school and then a year and half later from serious illness.  I certainly didn’t realise that we would be moving to Glasgow (although I have often longingly looked West from Aberdeen and yearned to be a bit further in that direction!  But I was thinking maybe more like Banchory once we retired).  However, although it’s been a very painful time in many ways, especially seeing my daughter suffer so much, I have been so very, very blessed.

The other night I was saying to the Dafter that once she’s able to swim back into the stream of life, and make friends, and go out and do things, I will really miss her company!  She and I have spent most of our waking hours over the last year and a half together or in very close proximity.  And do you know, it has really been a joy.  Although she has been too ill to do schoolwork, she has gained insights, wisdom and compassion that I certainly don’t feel I had until I was in my 30s.  Her company and conversation is a delight to me.  As we were talking about her future independence, we both said at the exactly the same time, “For now, I guess you’re/I’m stuck with me/you”.   And we laughed and hugged each other.



  1. What a beautiful pictures again !! Congrats with the 3 year blogging, it is so much fun to do, isn’t it?
    You never will stop enjoying her company, even if you don’t see her everyday 🙂

  2. This time you’ve had with the Dafter and the spirit with which you’ve both managed the situation must surely have created a bond that goes way deeper and will be more robust than occurs in the vast majority of mother-daughter relationships. It seems to me that this isn’t just luck. I attribute this outcome to the extraordinary amount of acceptance, patience and love that you have demonstrated.

  3. What fascinating insights into the history of the city!

    Happy blogging birthday and thank you for sharing with us all that you do. Your strength and joy in the small things are such a pleasure to read!

  4. I’ve only ever driven across that bridge and I had no idea of the interesting history. If I’m ever in Aberdeen again with time to spare I’d like to pop into the cathedral and see the chapel.

    I think the relationship you have with the Dafter is a wonderful thing. How many parents get to know their children that well, particularly during teenage years? It’s great that you both get so much good out of it, I’m sure she very much appreciates the time you’ve devoted to her, and it’ll pay dividends when you’re both older and have such a good understanding of each other. That bond is for life, and it’s an absolute delight to see your example.

  5. As always, I read with rapt attention and marveled at your photos. Even though Himself and I spent only part of a day in Aberdeen all those years ago, I feel like I have a better sense of the city from reading your posts! Next time, I’m going to explore more. And there WILL be a next time, if I have anything to say about it. 😉

    I know exactly what you mean about the blessing of spending time with the Dafter. That is one of the main reasons we homeschool, actually. I do hate she is so ill and send blessings for a speedy recovery!

  6. Thanks for posting such an informative piece, Christine. Three years blogging eh? Long may you continue. I look forward to reading the Glasgow posts in the future.

  7. Lovely pics, and lovely words of wisdom. xx

  8. Lovely post and so interesting. Its funny that we incomers often find out far more than those who are natives!
    Of all the problems so wonderful that something as good as your relationship with the Dafter has grown.

  9. Oh! I want to take a walk there! History right there beneath your feet comes alive in today’s world – a melding of past and present. ❤

  10. Daughterly companionship is so precious, and yours has stood the test of adversity to be even more so.

    Well, I didn’t know the history of the bridge. Although I had a flat in Albyn Grove for a year, for the rest of my 7 years in Aberdeen I was very Old Aberdeen-centric. I love the bridge, tho. Every time we cross it on our way to Moray I feel that we’re truly in the North East and can feel myself relaxing.

  11. As you prepare for a move away from Aberdeen it seems fitting to me for you to highlight some of what makes it unique and memorable and share it with us. Thanks, Christine. And concluding with your acceptance and appreciation of where you are now with your family is perfect 🙂
    I posted some pictures of Mt. Hood and the Sandy River you might enjoy.

  12. sound words of wisdom Christine. memories and time spent with your lovely daughter can never be replaced. they are like gold.

  13. Such beautiful photos! I love winter skies with the dark trees against them. I hope you do receive some spring weather soon! Last year spring was so early for us and now it will be so late.

    All messages have arrived! Will reply sometime soon. So glad that despite the hardships you are getting these precious moments with the Dafter.

  14. You fill me with great forms of info and I am always interested in what you share.. keep it coming.. And all the best for you and your dear family..

  15. Beautiful phoots. Your daughter sounds like an absolutely delightful young lady and you are truly blessed.

  16. What a lovely spot. The picture before last looks like a painting. Being in North America, I so miss the history you find anywhere in Europe! Happy blog anniversary to you and thanks for making the blogsphere an even more interesting space with your thoughtful posts. I love when your share the Dafter’s insights. She’s truly precious!

  17. Thank you for taking us on your beautiful walk and showing us the history of your amazing bridge! It is hard to believe that it was built in the 1500’s and our modern bridges not even 100 years old are falling apart! It certainly is very lovely and what a treasure. So nice that the statue of Our Lady was rescued and kept safe.
    How dear your words are about the turns your lives have taken, unforeseen just a short while ago. Through all your trials with your sweet daughter, you have managed to find the silver lining. You and your daughter are truly inspiring ( as is your whole family) and a wonderful example to the rest of us of what truly matters. Hugs, xx

  18. Beautiful photos which make me wish I could walk across the old bridge and soak in all that beauty! The bond between a mother and daughter is a special thing and we are blessed!

  19. Thank you for more beautiful photos, Christine. And thank you for the sweet news of how you and your girl are appreciating this time together. So very precious!

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