Celebrating 800th anniversary of Aberdeen Burgesses charter

Later this month (February) the Burgesses of Guild of the City of Aberdeen will be celebrating the 800th anniversary of the charter granted to them by King Alexander II. It conferred on the guild various privileges and powers which enabled the burgesses to play a key role in the growth and development of Aberdeen over the centuries.

From the Alexander II charter until recent times, the Burgesses of Guild remained an integral part of the council in Aberdeen, upholding the town’s laws and customs. They were even called upon to defend the Royal Burgh on a number of occasions.

Colin G. Taylor - Dean of Guild Aberdeen Burgesses
Colin G Taylor, Dean of Guild, Burgesses of Guild

Exactly 800 years after the date on which historians believe the charter was signed in the Royal Palace at Alyth, the anniversary will be celebrated at a dinner on Friday, February 27. Around 500 burgesses and guests, are expected to attend at the Beach Ballroom, Aberdeen.

Commenting on the 800th Anniversary of the Alexander II charter, Dean of Guild Colin Taylor said:

“This is a hugely significant anniversary, not just for the Burgesses of Guild, but also for the City of Aberdeen. Over the centuries, Aberdeen’s burgesses have been a driving force behind the development of the Royal Burgh.

“Aberdeen’s Burgesses were responsible for guarding the laws and customs of the Royal Burgh of Aberdeen. On occasion they even laid down their lives in defence of the town. This loyalty to the King and the community brought with its own rewards in terms of trading privileges.

“Trading has been a key element in the growth of Aberdeen into a vital commercial centre, servicing an extensive hinterland. As a Royal Burgh, the burgesses were also able to build a thriving overseas trade with neighbouring countries across the North Sea.

“It is the actions of Aberdeen’s Burgesses of Guild over the centuries that laid the foundations for the modern City of Aberdeen.”

The Alexander II charter is dated “27 February”, but the year is not stated. Historians believe the year was 1214, expressed in the Julian calendar of the time. Because the Gregorian calendar changed the start of the new year from March 25 to January 1, that means it is exactly 800 years before 27 February 2015.
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