Monday, 30 May 2011

20th Century Boundary Stones "ACB"

Once you've got your eye in, it's difficult to stop seeing stuff that you might otherwise miss. We've mentioned 'unknown stones' before - our tag for boundary stones that aren't mentioned on the Aberdeen City Council's splendid archeology pages, but perhaps are mentioned on the RCHAMS database. Or perhaps not mentioned anywhere at all, like this one:

Simply inscribed "ACB"
It's about 45cm in height. The stain 5/8ths of the way up suggests that it may once have been buried deeper than it is now. And that's all new turf around it, so this may not even be its exact original location.

It's on Lang Stracht (for those without Scots - a streetname which translates: "Long Straight"), at Sheddocksly, near the pedestrian/cyclist access to the new-ish housing association homes which occupy what had been the site of the garden centre chain before it moved farther west. From the crisp quality of the stonework and typeface used for the inscription, it appears to our eyes to be post-Victorian, and being different in its form factor (not having an inclined face for the inscription) is not one of the series of "ABD" or "CR" marked 'March Stones' which regular readers will know that we've been tracing over the weeks and months.

An educated guess might bring us to conclude that "ACB" stands for "Aberdeen City Boundary"; but that geographical point on the Lang Stracht is much closer in than today's far-flung city limits. So then we think of the time during the 20th Century when that city boundary was much closer in than today...

As a child, I remember road signs with words to the general effect: "Welcome to the City of Aberdeen"; specifically I remember them on the North Deeside Road at Pitfodels, on the Stonehaven Road just south of the Bridge of Dee and on Auchmill Road just about at Newton Terrace. We suppose that we should really get ourselves along to the local studies department at the Central Library and see if we can look at a mid-20th century map for clues to where we might find others of these 20th century boundary stones, but hey - this isn't a job! (Nevertheless - if anyone's got a copy of such a map that they can let us have we'd be really grateful.)

Anyhow, by far the easiest to get to of these half-remembered street-sign border signifiers from the early 1970's from Other Aberdeen's salubrious atelier in the upscale heart of downtown Pitmuxton is at Pitfodels. So, off we go for a look. And bingo! An ACB marked boundary stone at the bottom of Baird's Brae.

Just a hundred yards up the brae, at the junction with Airyhall Road/Rocklands Road there's another.

We've been past this location hundreds of times before and never
noticed it till today.
Interestingly, at the location of the ACB stone at the bottom of the brae, at it's junction with North Deeside Road, across the road a current roadside sign still marks the boundary of Cults village. A milestone still survives at this location too. Though it's seen better days...

If you weren't looking, you'd not see it.

The face seems damaged.
This would have been the 3-mile stone. Having spent time and effort looking for Aberdeen's boundary stones, and having become accustomed to people saying things like "oh yes, you mean those mile-stone thingies", it is ironic to actually come across one of these artifacts more or less by accident.  The item itself, pre-dating as it does the 1867 survey, seems almost impossibly remote and exotic (ish).

Farther along North Deeside Road, at Bieldside, the 4-mile stone has survived in a much better condition.

We've since seen other milestones in other locations around town which mark both different routes and different transport modes. But that probably enough trainspotting for one day. We'll get around to mentioning the other milestones in the usual course of psychogeography...


Anonymous said...

Really interesting! Have you already posted about the two milestones very close together on the Great Western Road, to the West of Nellfield Place? I presume they give the "Short Mile" pub its name.

Mark Pithie said...

Interesting stuff Alan. I remember back in 80's when I used to be a marathon runner , passing those stones by Cults and Bairds Brae . I had forgotten about them until I looked at 'Other Aberdeen'. I do remember the old signs in the 70s also , especially when going on family holidays by car as folk did back then.

Anonymous said...

another ACB stone at the Bridge of One Hair

OtherAberdeen said...

Bridge of One Hair?