St Nicholas



Aberdeen Graveyards - St Nicholas Churchyard


This graveyard is right in the heart of the city adjoining the main thoroughfare, Union Street. It is a very old churchyard dating from at least medieval times with a long and distinguished history. Many prominent citizens of the city are buried there. The present graveyard layout dates from 1829 and was designed by architect John Smith. There are a little over 1000 gravestones to be found - though the proportion of unreadable ones is higher in this resting place as many of the flat ones have been walked over (or sat upon) for generations. There are approximately 4000 names still to be found on the inscriptions.

The church itself has an interesting history - more so when you consider that the building consists of two churches - the East Church and West Church, this arrangement dating from 1596. The present building is obviously constructed of differing architectural styles. The earlier West Church dates from 1755 while the more modern ornate East Church was constructed in 1876. 

An interesting graveyard with many distinguished stones spanning the centuries. Those against the west wall are particularly interesting.  One grave of particular note within the grounds is that of Mrs Duthie, donator of the grounds which formed the Duthie park to the west of Aberdeen.  A woman to whom all Aberdonians owe a great debt. 

Main paths are flagstones, though be aware - a number round the church are actually gravestones! Because many are so badly worn I'm sure lots of tourists walk over these graves without realizing it. There are also fragments of gravestones to be found in odd corners of the same paths. Look carefully and you may spot some.

This churchyard, despite its central location has in the past had a bit of a reputation for being a haunt of undesirables. However the police and council have tightened up on this and on my visit I saw no evidence of anything untoward.  A number of civic improvements such as new paths and benches have been placed within the grounds and this has improved the overall look and feel of the site. Use a little common sense and don't enter the place when no one is around at twilight. During the middle of the busy day there should be no problem. It's a common haunt for lunchtime workers when the weather is good.

As I said, there are many fine stones. Quite a few belong to local merchants, burgesses, church officials and university professors. However there's also a good mix of 'ordinary' folks as well. Are yours among them?

Certainly worth a visit - if only to examine the wide range and types of gravestones. Speaking of which, check out the monument to Robert Hamilton, one time professor of mathematics at Marischal College located on your left as you enter via Union Street. This was built from public subscriptions. How's that for a modest tomb?!

If you require a specific gravestone photo from the above send me your relevant details and I'll e-mail you what I have. Contact me here


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Entrance to St Nicholas graveyard
from Aberdeen's main street