Self-guided tour to feed city's appetite for the past

Self-guided tour to feed city's appetite for the past

Those with an appetite for Aberdeen's past can now explore how the diet of its inhabitants has changed over the centuries with the launch of the Hungry Histories Trail.

The self-guided walk is part of a project led by the University of Aberdeen and funded by a Heritage Lottery Grant which explores the history and archaeology of food, diet and eating habits in the Granite City. The leaflet has been produced in association with Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums.

Dr Chris Croly from the University’s Public Engagement with Research Team said the level of interest in the project prompted the creation of the new guide to enable people to explore sites around the city which have yielded the greatest clues for archaeologists and historians.

“We staged a series of public events as part of the project and every one was fully booked,” he added. “People were fascinated to learn how Aberdeen is uniquely placed for this type of research thanks to its archive and museum collections as well as the rich soil and the quality of archaeological finds over recent decades.

“Excavations at St. Nicholas Kirk, Aberdeen Art Gallery and the council offices at Marischal College have yielded preserved archaeological biological material – including many human skeletons – dating back across almost 10 centuries.

“We wanted people to be able to explore these sites and learn more about how our archaeologists have been able to use the material to gain insights into the lives of those who inhabited this city before us. This leaflet would not have been possible without the contribution of Orshi Czere and Dr Kate Britton from the Department of Archaeology, who are leading the way in the analysis of this skeletal material.”

Investigations into the archaeological material are ongoing with experts within the University’s School of Archaeology also examining bones held in the University and Marischal collections which date back to the Neolithic period.

Dr Croly added: “The food consumed by our ancestors not only had a major impact on their health and wellbeing, it was at the heart of the social and political complexities of these times.

“Bringing these stories to the public over the past year has shown us that there is an appetite in the city for more information relating to its archaeological and dietary past.

“We hope that our Hungry Histories self-guided trail will help to bring that past to life for visitors to Aberdeen and enable those who are already familiar with landmarks such as St Nicholas Kirk and Marischal College to see them in a new light.”

Councillor Marie Bolton, Aberdeen City Council’s cultural spokesperson said: “It’s great to be able to link up with our Aberdeen University partners on this unique culinary approach to exploring our city’s history. I’m sure that, by the end of this fascinating self-guided walk, participants will have worked up enough appetite to enjoy some of the cuisine contemporary Aberdeen has to offer!”

The Hungry Histories trail will be available to pick up in all Aberdeen city libraries and museums and across the University of Aberdeen campus. It is also available on