The first eight volumes of the Aberdeen Council Registers, covering the period 1398-1511 are Scotland’s oldest and most complete run of civic records. The registers have been inscribed on the UNESCO UK Memory of the World Register, in recognition of their historical significance.

unesco site

The Aberdeen Burgh Records Project

In collaboration with the keepers of the registers, the Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives, the Aberdeen Burgh Records Project at the University’s Research Institute of Irish and Scottish Studies has advanced a series of digital engagements with these materials since 2012.

This site began as the online presence of the research project grant (2016-2019) called LACR (Law in the Aberdeen Council Registers 1398-1511), principally funded by the Leverhulme Trust. The LACR team produced a digital textual resource from the Aberdeen Council Registers in the format of a full, accurate, versatile and online Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) compliant transcription. LACR also fostered an academic programme aimed at conducting research into the contents of the registers.

This website continues to report on the progress of the Aberdeen Burgh Records Project, and in particular its new grant (2020-2023) called FLAG (Finance, law and the language of governmental practice in late medieval towns: Aberdeen and Augsburg in comparison), jointly funded by the AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) and the German Research Foundation (DFG).

Further associated Research Fellowships and Postgraduate Research Funding

In October 2020 Ebba Strutzenbladh began a PhD project on “Women, law and landed networks in Scotland, c.1460 – c. 1560: Aberdeen and the Northeast”. Ebba holds SGSAH doctoral funding and is working with supervisors Jackson Armstrong (Aberdeen), Ali Cathcart (Stirling) and Alan MacDonald (Dundee).

In 2019-2020 Dr William Hepburn held a Research Fellowship funded by Chivas Brothers which investigated the stories in the ARO connected with the mention in 1505 of an aquavite still.

In 2019 Dr William Hepburn held an AHRC Creative Economies Engagement Fellowship through the Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities. It was called Playing in the Archives: Game Development with Aberdeen’s Medieval Records. In the Fellowship Dr Hepburn explored the effectiveness of video games as a scholarly medium for examining the burgh records and the historical subjects they inform.

Creative and Artistic Responses

In 2020-2021 Dr William Hepburn and Dr Jackson Armstrong led a project to create Strange Sickness, a narrative game built from the burgh records.

In 2020-2021 an initiative led by artists Hetty Haxworth and Kit Martin piloted print-making work in primary schools to explore words and themes in the ARO.

In 2018-2019 Dr Claire Hawes won a Creative Funding Award from Aberdeen City Council to support her collaboration with musicians Davy Cattanach and Paddy Buchanan to explore how songwriters can use historical material in their work. The trio have written a set of original songs composed in response to the contents of the Aberdeen council registers. In March 2020 they performed at the Holyrood Parliament.

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