One of Aberdeen’s nicknames is “The Granite City”. Until fairly recently, granite was a major industry in Aberdeen. There were many quarries in the surrounding countryside, and at least one within the city, Rubislaw Quarry. Granite yards, stonemasons and monument makers were dotted about the city. And of course, most of the Victorian city centre was constructed from granite.
I’ve always enjoyed the granite of Aberdeen, and I’ve written about it here on my blog (here and here and here). My lovely neighbour Mary Morrison worked in a granite yard before she retired, and she opened my eyes to the beauty of granite. As we would walk down a street in Aberdeen (slowly, as she was in her late 80s and early 90s when I knew her), she would point out shop fronts or steps made of different types of granite. She really opened my eyes to the beauty and variety of granite.
Aberdeen Art Gallery is a good place to go if you’re interested in granite, because they have a series of granite columns from various quarries in the area, as well as a few made of Norwegian granite.
At the base of each column is a wee plate that tells you where the granite of that column is from.
Mary Morrison was given a beautiful granite pendant when she retired from the granite yard. It was made from Norwegian “Blue Pearl” granite, very similar to this:
The flecks in this granite give it a beautiful depth and iridescence. If you start to look, you will see it in different places in the city. Recently, I was walking past a wall with polished granite set into it. A rather exasperated mother was trying to push her little girl past in her buggy. But the little girl insisted on touching the piece of granite. “We can never go past here without touching the granite,” the mother said. And I thought, that little girl is right – it really is beautiful!
Now here’s the funny thing. Radio Scotland, having found my blog posts on granite, contacted me to ask if I would like to be interviewed on the topic! Why not, I said. It’s for an interesting local history series called Our Story. Episode One is on the Doric language and has already aired. Episode Two is on Granite and will be broadcast Monday, 8th of July 2013 at 1:30 pm. If you’re interested, you can listen to the episodes online and for up to a week after they’ve been broadcast. The webpage is here.
In the interview – I’ve no idea whether they will use this bit – I talked about how especially in the wintertime, the granite seems to “wink” at you in the low sun. Here’s a photo that I took to illustrate this phenomenon:
I hope you can see the sparkles just above the window? It’s a difficult thing for my little camera to catch.
So here’s to granite! And the Granite City, which is also known as the Silver City – now you know why.