Posted by: christinelaennec | July 5, 2013

Granite on the radio

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.

Granite columns in the Aberdeen Art Gallery, May 2013.  They were donated by the Aberdeen Granite Association.

Granite columns in the Aberdeen Art Gallery, May 2013. They were donated by the Aberdeen Granite Association.

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.

Granite columns, Aberdeen Art Gallery.

Granite columns, Aberdeen Art Gallery.

At the base of each column is a wee plate that tells you where the granite of that column is from.

This column is made of granite quarried in Kemnay, Aberdeenshire.

This column is made of granite quarried in Kemnay, Aberdeenshire.

This column is made of granite from Rubislaw Quarry, Aberdeen.

This column is made of granite from Rubislaw Quarry, Aberdeen.

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:

This column is made from Norwegian "Blue Pearl" granite.

This column is made from Norwegian “Emerald Pearl” granite.

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:

Glittering granite in February sun, Aberdeen.

Glittering granite in February sun, with pigeon, Aberdeen.

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.



  1. Fame at last!

  2. Wow! Congratulations on ur upcoming interview. I have been to the Art gallery many times and am appalled that I never noticed that the columns were made of granite- and all different- how amazing. Will definitely have a closer look next time:) thank you.

  3. Lovely post! That Norwegian ‘Emerald Green’ granite is beautiful. The only trouble with granite is that it’s radioactive! xx

    • Forgot to say – congratulations on your radio interview!

  4. Very interesting post! Thanks for sharing. Great you get an interview!

  5. Thank you for this wonderful lesson Christine, and congratulations on your interview…I will surely listen to it.
    Hugs and a wonderful weekend

  6. Beautiful pictures and very interesting information. Congrats on the interview.

  7. I found your information on granite very interesting and the photos to go
    along with it. I live not very far from Tate, Georgia, the home of the Georgia
    Marble Company. This is some of the finest marble is the world and
    has been used in many famous sites, the most notable is the statue at
    the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
    Best to you on your radio interview! (might be the start of a new adventure!)…

  8. Beautiful granite columns – I love the different colors! Congratulations on your interview! xo

  9. I’ll try and listen for the interview, Christine. Smashing post, as usual!

  10. That’s great about the interview, it’s amazing how blogging about something can lead to other things. I didn’t know about those granite pillars in the art gallery, what a lovely idea with the wee labels.

    • I just listened to the granite programme online and it was great! You have an excellent radio voice, I’d happily listen to you reading books. 🙂

  11. Fascinating stuff, Christine. How flattering for you to have been asked to speak about the granite. Good job! ❤

  12. Will look forward to listening! I loved the granite aspect of Aberdeen when I lived there – it had so many moods.
    Have just listened to the first programme in the series, about Doric, and have got so homesick for the North East and its speech. I was struck by the comment about going into B&Q in Inverurie and seeing signs in Gaelic but none in Doric, when Gaelic hadn’t been spoken in the North East for very many years but Doric was still a natural part of life. Time to divert some funds from the Scottish Government’s blinkered focus on Gaelic!

  13. interesting — I love granite stone — it’s the best stuff for granite counter tops and shower units surrounds in our homes. But have never done column – a lot of work and beautiful work that you are showing in your blog post today.. love seeing all the usages..

  14. I heard it . . . but I can’t believe it’s you!! The voice doesn’t match the idea I had in my head at all. The accent is, as expected, unusual. I’m sure I’d pick it as Scottish but I’d know it wasn’t typical of the ones I’d heard and wouldn’t have picked an American influence. What I was not surprised by was the thought behind your comments and your confidence of speech. You’re a great interviewee. – now I’m really regretting not being within tea-drinking distance of Aberdeen/Glasgow.

  15. Dear All,
    Thanks so much for your comments! Believe me when I say that they give me so much happiness. I thought the programme was really good, and I certainly learned a lot more about granite in Aberdeen than I’d previously known.

    Lottie – yes, it’s true! But don’t tell the Dafter until we’ve relocated. Good thing we’re not going to Cornwall – another highly granite-laden place.

    Linda – so glad you liked the Doric programme. I was in Keith recently and there is a shop there “The Mither Tongue” that campaigns for more money for Scots/Doric. I think both Doric and Gaelic were treated with the same contempt – children being punished at school for speaking their native language. It’s a very sad history and I agree that both should be supported.

    oldblack – Thanks for your kind words. I think my confidence often comes across as forwardness in Aberdeen – but hey, I’m American. How funny that my accent didn’t match what you’d imagined, and furthermore that you would have pegged me as Scottish. I have no idea what I sound like now. When I’m back in the States people remark on my odd accent; here people wonder if I’m perhaps Canadian. When I say I’m American they often comment that I have a “soft” American accent. My daughter, who has a very different accent from me, is often told that she has an American accent. Who knows?!

    I really do hope you can someday come to Scotland. It would be great to meet up. I imagine your voice to be like someone from Neighbours! Having said that, the Dafter and I do notice that the actors don’t seem to all have the same Australian accent.

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