Monday, 18 July 2011

Edgeland at Moss of Rotten

In the liminal zone, that edgeland zone of replacement where the town and the countryside fray into each other, scrubland horse-riding centres rub shoulders with smallholdings in a landscape characterised by picturesque benign neglect. This is time's realm and time, given time, blends the mineral into the organic, the artificial to the natural as first-generation barbwire and corrugated iron - beyond aged - flake in transmutative rust, richly endowing soils with their serendipitously ferric fertiliser. Sickly-sharp-smelling brackish standing water silver-mirrors through surface-skating midge-haze the discontinuous summer-showery sky. Fern frond, gorse barb, hogweed stand.
All this on that rarity - unimproved land. Here a bog - a 'moss', as known here - where medieval freemen dug their peat fuel - wealth from the land, continued prosperity and security against a hard winter; there craggy bedrock - last blanketed by topsoil some ten-thousand years hence before glacier's denuding scrape - stands exposed; a convenient landmark, waymark. Property marker.

To the west of our town, the proposed (delayed?) Aberdeen bypass motorway will thunder, heroic high on embankment shoulder-carried through this landscape, claiming this Moss of Rotten, facilitating the motorist as he looks down upon the equestrians, the smallholdings and the unimproved edgeland. Once the motorway comes this edgeland will be replaced, subsumed into a rigidly defined geography of minimum speed limits and theodolite delineated plots; housing-zoned for pleasant-valley detatched and semi.

We don't fear for the edgeland - the edgeland will move on, move farther out. Edgelands are always with us. But the Moss of Rotten will be forever gone.


Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route
Environmental Statement
Non-Technical Summary



The road crosses a predominantly rural landscape, which has a range of landscape characters relating to topography, vegetation and land use.

Impacts will typically be associated with the introduction of the road, embankments, cuttings, bridges, junctions, lighting and vehicle movements into the open and wooded farmland, hill and valley landscapes.

Measures included in the scheme proposals to reduce impacts on the landscape include careful alignment of the road and easing of embankment and cutting slopes to blend with existing landforms and allow a potential return to agriculture. Appropriate boundaries, as drystone walls or planting, will be put in place to reflect existing boundaries and maintain the character of the landscape. The effectiveness of this planting will typically increase over time as vegetation matures.


Cultural Heritage

There are a number of sites of cultural heritage importance located within the route corridor, The effects on these include direct physical impacts and indirect impacts on their setting.

Where possible, the route of the road has been designed to avoid or reduce direct impacts or impacts on the setting. Where this has not been possible, archaeological recording is proposed for known sites where direct impacts are predicted. Works will also be undertaken to identify and record previously unknown sites. In addition landscape design proposals have been developed to reduce impacts on setting.



Alternative Names March Stone; Moss Of Rotten
Archaeological Notes NJ80SW 51 c. 8474 0400

This boundary marker comprises the letter P (285mm high) incised into the upper surface of an area of bedrock about 225m E of North Westfield farmsteading (NJ80SW 52). The bedrock is situated on the S edge of an area of low-lying ground that originally formed the W end of the Moss of Rotten (OS 6-inch map, Aberdeenshire, 1st edition, 1869, sheet lxxxv).

The marker almost certainly indicates a point on the Outer Marches of Aberdeen and is of medieval date, the letter 'P' standing for 'Propertie'.


Look closely - click for a big version of the pic - and the 'P' is evident proof that, even in pre-enlightenment times, the people of Aberdeen were obsessed with 'Propertie'.

1 comment:

Peter Burnett said...

Like 'archaeological recording' is a salve to archaeological annhilation :(

A Mossy Aside: My great grandfather, who lived in New Pitsligo, used to inexplicably call the Ace of Spades 'The Moss of Byth' when playing cards... nobody knows why.