The grand city of Aberdeen, where the rivers Don and Dee meet the North Sea, has been settled for over 8000 years, and has amassed a rich history in that time. Its name is a sort of confluence itself, of the Pictish word aber, meaning ‘river mouth’, with the don portion being derived from the name of the Celtic river goddess Devona.
The city was granted Royal Burgh status by King David I of Scotland in the 12th Century CE, and, as a coastal town, its early industry was heavily reliant on fishing and shipping. This nautical history is explored in the Aberdeen Maritime Museum, a hi-tech visitor attraction adapted from the 16th-century Provost Ross’s House. The building’s frontispiece is an example of the distinctive stonework that gives Aberdeen the nickname of ‘the Granite City’.
Aberdeen became the centre of the global granite trade by the end of the 19th Century, and the wealth this brought to the city is evident in some of the many granite constructions built around that time and that are still standing today, among them the newer parts of Marischal College on Broad Street, the second-biggest granite building in the world.
For many, this marks the beginning of the North East 250 road trip. Overnighting here before the trip means you can sample the delights of the city’s many restaurants and bars, galleries, theatres and venues before embarking on your journey.
Depending on which direction you set off in, the first part of the journey will either skirt the city and take you through leafy suburbs or head straight up the East Coast for rugged North Sea coastal views. There are plenty of places to stay outside the city if you want to start your journey en route rather than in Aberdeen.