History, discovery and days out in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.

One of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire’s greatest strengths is its history and heritage and rich archaeology. The area has a wealth of archaeological sites and heritage buildings, locations and visitor attractions.

Trying to put together a top 10 list would be nigh on impossible as such a list would miss something out!  Aberdeenshire is known for its Castles which can be enjoyed on Scotland’s Trail.  The county is home to many and varied historic buildings, some of which can be enjoyed during the annual Aberdeenshire Doors Open Day event in September.

For this blog I thought I would have a look at some of the great Heritage Centres and Museums that we have in our area and give you some background about some of them. They are all very different and cover different periods of time and history whether that be about the fishing industry, lighthouses or transport.

To start off with, here are a few did you knows?

  • Did you know that The Tolbooth Museum is one of the best preserved 17th century jails in Scotland?
  • Did you know that 640,000 cubic feet of Aberdeen granite went into the construction of the Forth Rail Bridge?
  • Did you know that Slains Castle at Cruden Bay is said to have inspired Bram Stoker in writing Dracula?

Aberdeen Maritime Museum

aberdeen maritime museum

Aberdeen Maritime Museum tells the story of Aberdeen's long relationship with the sea. It is also the only place in the UK where you can view displays about the North Sea Oil and Gas Industry

Buckie Fishing Heritage Centre

Discover the unique fishing history of this lovely part of the Moray Firth. There is an extensive range of photographs which depict all aspects of the fishing industries includes most of the Buckie (BCK) and Banff (BF) boat registrations, the gutting quines, coopers and many other items relating to the heritage of Buckie and District.  There are numerous artefacts on display and a splendid collection of model boats ranging from Scaffies, Zulu boats, Drifters and Motor Fishing boats.

Boyndie Visitor Centre

Explore 6 acres of woodland paths, ponds and natural wildlife which surround the visitor centre building. Boyndie Visitor Centre is home to display cabinets and interpretative wall displays of archive material from the RAF Banff Trust. You can walk onto the old RAF Banff airfield, with routes to view the wind turbines, control tower, and operations block.

Fraserburgh Heritage Centre

Fraserburgh Heritage Centre 1

The 4 star Visitor Attraction has over 20 exhibits including fishing heritage, Harbour Masters Office, Fraserburgh Railway and the Thomas Blake Glover story in the Japanese Garden.

You can enjoy a self-guided tour around the exhibits accompanied by an informative free audio tour.

Many exciting hands on activities to see, hear and handle for both young and old.

Grampian Transport Museum

grampian transport museum1

The award winning museum probes the past, present and future of land travel and transport in the North East of Scotland, with exciting climb aboard vehicles and fun for all the family.

Follow the history of travel and transport in the north east of Scotland through dramatic displays, working exhibits and DVD presentations. A visit includes climb aboard vehicle exhibits, extensive use of video and some great exhibitions.

The museum’s new visitor reception, now hosts part of the fantastic Guy Martin collection, including a stunning Rolls Royce Merlin Spitfire engine, along with the Gravity Racer, designed and built by Guy and the team from Sheffield’s Hallam university.

Museum of Scottish Lighthouses

lighthouse museum2

The museum is a place for you to have fun, to learn something new and to get involved. It is located on Kinnaird Head in Fraserburgh and offers a wonderful experience where you enjoy a tour of the Lighthouse compound including a climb up the fascinating spiral staircase in the lighthouse itself and a walk around the outside walkway. You can get into character by trying on their lighthouse keeper’s uniform and view the largest lens collection in the UK.

Maggie’s Hoosie

Stepping through the doorway of this traditional 'hoosie', you'll feel like you have been transported to a bygone age. This unmodernised fishing cottage, with its earth floor and original furnishings, would have once been typical of the accommodation lived in by the region's fishermen and their families.

See where Maggie Duthie, a local girl born in 1867, lived and worked all her days - the dwelling has remain unchanged since her death in 1950.

Peterhead Town Trail

This is a walking tour around Peterhead highlighting over four hundred years of history, stories, events, local scandals, gossip and sensations. The trail is made up of a short route, which concentrates on the town centre and harbour, with an optional longer walk along the northern edge, which takes in beaches, wildlife and some of Buchan’s fabulous coastline.

Dalmochie Lumberjack’s Trail

Site of the Newfoundlander’s WW2 logging camp. – Immediately outside Ballater, on the south side of the River Dee is the Pannanich Wood operated by the Forestry Commission. The wood is now reaching maturity, having been replanted at the end of the Second World War. Replanting was needed as the forest that previously stood on the site had been felled to meet the war needs. Now the Forestry Commission and the Cairngorms National Park have created a circular walk from the centre of Ballater to Dalmochie, the site of logging camp used by the Newfoundland lumberjacks who felled the forest.

Victorian Heritage Trail

Royal Deeside has been Scotland’s crowning glory ever since Queen Victoria and Prince Albert first visited, and fell in love with the Balmoral Estate in 1848.

Since then, successive generations of the Royal family have adopted the area as their tranquil retreat.

The Victorian Heritage Trail pinpoints many of the historic places that make the picturesque Dee and Don valleys, in the north east of Scotland, a truly majestic place.

Maggie Law Maritime Museum

This is an old two-storey coastguard building, which sits beside the old harbour and slipway (the Gutty) in the centre of Gourdon.

The Maggie Law was one of the first inshore lifeboats, built in 1890 and rowed by six men she was in service for 40 years and saved 36 lives.

It is interesting to note that the challenges which are faced in the North Sea today, were being met in the worst of conditions by six local fishermen, putting their own lives at risk, for the safety of their fellow fishermen and families.

This is what makes this piece of maritime heritage unique, and worthwhile saving as a valued piece of community heritage.


This is only the tip of the iceberg of what our area has to offer. You can enjoy many great days out visiting history and heritage attractions in North East Scotland so whether you are here for just a day, weekend or holiday you’ll have plenty of opportunities to see what has made Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire what it is today.