Aberdeen, Greyfriars Church

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Alternative Names Marischal College; Grey Friar's Monastery; Aberdeen, Franciscan Friary
Canmore ID 20146
Site Number NJ90NW 26
NGR NJ 9425 0650
Former Region GRAMPIAN
Former District CITY OF ABERDEEN
Datum OSGB36 - NGR

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Archaeological Notes

NJ90NW 26 9425 0650

For Dominican friary (NJ 9389 0640) and Carmelite friary (NJ 9411 0608), see NJ90NW 27 and NJ90NW 49 respectively.

(NJ 9425 0646) Greyfriars Church (AD 1500) (NAT)
(NJ 9425 0650) Site of of Marischal College (NR)
OS 1:500 map, Aberdeenshire, 1st ed., (1867).

(NJ 9425 0650) Marischal College on site of (NAT)
Grey Friar's Monastery (NR)
OS 1:500 map, Aberdeenshire, 2nd ed., (1901).

The site of the Franciscan Friary, some of whose buildings were used by the original Marischal College after the Reformation.
The friary was founded in 1469 and consisted of cloister, church dedicated to the Virgin Mary, etc. A new church was built for the friars in 1518-32 and in 1559 they resigned their whole property to the Town Council, so the buildings survived the Reformation. In 1567 permission was granted for 'the place of the Friars Minor' to be converted into a hospital, but the church stood derelict until 1624, when it was restored. A north projection was added to it in 1768 and it remained in use as a parish church until its demolition in 1903. The other buildings passed to George, Early Marischal, who founded Marischal College on the site in 1593 although new college buildings were not erected until c.1676. The college was rebuilt on the site in the early 19th century.
D E Easson 1957; D MacGibbon and T Ross 1897; A Smith 1882.
Visited by OS (JLD) 20 August 1952.

The original college buildings were grouped around a courtyard behind Broad St. In 1837 Simpson designed a new Tudor-Style quadrangle in white granite behind the original houses of Broad St. A Mitchel Mackenzie built the Mitchell Tower in 1891.
(Additional bibliography cited).
NMRS, MS/712/83.

The site of this church is now occupied by Marischal College.
Visited by RCAHMS (JRS, ATW), 26 February 1997.

NJ 9425 0651 Interim report on ongoing works around Marischal College, Aberdeen. This report covers evaluation work within the rear and front quadrangles (Trench 1-8). Medieval and post-medieval contexts have been recorded in all areas.
Information from OASIS ID: aberdeen3-53479
Alison Cameron, Aberdeen City Archaeological Unit

1 June 2009 to 30 June 2009

Notes NJ 9426 0650 Conversion of Marischal College into the new headquarters of Aberdeen City Council involved gutting the standing buildings, engineering work to retain the facades and the construction of new walls and services.
Phase 1 Garden soil levels pre-date all construction at this site; small amounts of medieval pottery and bone were recovered from these levels.
Phase 2 Buildings probably belonging to (but possibly pre-dating) the Franciscan friary which occupied part of
the site from the mid 15th century. A series of stone walls, pits (including one containing two complete 15th- to 16th century pots), postholes and a dump of rubbish, including pottery, ceramic floor tile, stone roof tile and window glass, are probably of friary origin. The Greyfriars Church stood on a NW–SE alignment until the early 20th century, when it was removed to make way for a new frontage for Marischal College. No structural evidence of the church was uncovered, but possible cloister walls which survived to a height of 1.5m were recorded. A series of seven burials of older male individuals with their hands clasped were buried with their heads to the SW against a cloister wall.
Phase 3 From the late 16th century the friary buildings were occupied by the newly founded Marischal College.
College buildings were regularly added and refurbished; some of these demolished buildings survive under the
Quadrangle to a height of over 1m. Plastered walls, doors, windows and a fireplace were recorded.
Phase 4 We recorded the 19th-century development of Marischal College in the form of a demolished wing and
numerous drains, some containing glass stirrers and other objects that had probably been discarded down the drains from the laboratories of one of the science departments which were housed in Marischal College. This work was undertaken 1–30 June 2009.
Archive: Aberdeen City Council and RCAHMS
Funder: Aberdeen City Council
Alison Cameron – Aberdeen City Council Archaeological Unit

Further details

16 June 2010 to 4 August 2010

Notes NJ 94240 06481 A watching brief was undertaken, June–August 2010 during the excavation of deep drains in the college quadrangle and on Broad Street. The quadrangle excavations revealed a series of large cut features, the base for the now removed McGrigor Obelisk, and a section of granite masonry. It is possible that the masonry relates to the Franciscan friary or early college structures. Finds recovered included sherds of medieval pottery, roof tiles and Flemish floor tiles. A series of modern made ground deposits, overlying a compacted surface, of unknown date, were recorded during the Broad Street excavations.
Archive: Aberdeen City Council and RCAHMS
Funder: Aberdeen City Council
CFA Archaeology Ltd, 2010

Information also reported in Oasis (cfaarcha1-102482) 16 September 2011

Further details

15 November 2011 to 1 May 2012

Notes A watching brief was carried out from 15 November 2011- 1 May 2012 on trenches excavated for the City Centre Heating Phase 1 (Aberdeen City Council Planning references P110789, P111251 and change of route P120455). The trench for laying the pipes starts at The Beach Ballroom, Links Road (AB24 5NR), runs SW along Links Road, along Constitution Street, around Constitution Court, along Wales Street, across Park Street, along Frederick Street, north along King Street, Mealmarket Street, West North Street to Mitchell Hall (AB24 5AS) and also SW along Longacre and Queen Street to Grampian Police HQ and Aberdeen City Council Town House (AB10 1BS).
Information from Oasis (camerona1-125584) 24 July 2012

NJ 95273 07178 (Beach Ballroom) – NJ 94325 06603 (West North Street) – NJ 94325 06405 A watching brief was maintained, 17 November 2011 – 1 May 2012, during the excavation of trenches for new heating pipes. The trenches running from The Town House, Broad Street to Aberdeen Leisure Centre, Beach Boulevard were 1.5m wide and 1.2m deep. The foundations of 19th-century tenements were recorded in Broad Street and garden soils in Mealmarket Street.
Archive: RCAHMS
Funder: Aberdeen Heat and Power
Alison Cameron (Cameron Archaeology) July 2012

Further details

Books and References

Bogdan and Bryce, N and I B D (1991) 'Castles, manors and 'town houses' survey', Discovery Excav Scot
Page(s): 24

Cameron, A (2009a) 'Marischal College, Aberdeen City (Aberdeen parish), evaluation, excavation and watching brief', Discovery Excav Scot, New, vol.10 Cathedral Communications Limited, Wiltshire, England.
Page(s): 11

Cathcart, Murray and Hall, R, C and D W (2000) Gazetteer of medieval hospital sites in Aberdeenshire, Glasgow City, Highland, Lanarkshire and Moray Council areas, [S.l.]
Held at RCAHMS E.13.1.CAT

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Charity SC026749