Medieval Aberdeen and the Aberdeen Council Registers
Surviving town records from Scotland in the later middle ages are few and fragmentary. Aberdeen’s medieval council registers are the exception to this general rule, and for that they have been recognised though inscription on UNESCO’s UK Memory of the World Registers. They survive in a near-continuous series from 1398 onwards, with only one significant gap (from c.1414-c.1434), offering more material than those of all other Scottish towns combined for this period. They are primarily legal records, containing court proceedings, ordinances, elections, dispositions of property, and correspondence.
The town described in these records was a major regional nucleus of political and judicial power within the Scottish kingdom. Aberdeen (itself consisting of two neighbouring burghs; what came to be known as New Aberdeen on the River Dee and Old Aberdeen on the River Don – the latter with its own civic registers surviving from the seventeenth century) was also a major episcopal seat, the site of one of Europe’s most northern seats of learning (King’s College founded 1495 and Marischal College founded 1593), and a commercial entrepot with extensive hinter-lands and hinter-seas.