Special conference to reflect on Aberdeen’s history

Award-winning writers and renowned speakers will discuss Aberdeen’s rich heritage at a special free-to-attend one-day conference in the Granite City next month (March).

The ‘Hall of Mirrors’ event will examine how our understanding of the past is often used and misused, exploring topics such as local heritage, cartography, women’s history, oil and gas, genealogy, traditional music and dance, and archaeology.

The free-to-attend event has been organised by Aberdeen City Libraries, and will be held on Saturday 4 March, from 9am until 4.30pm in the city’s Beach Ballroom, Beach Promenade.

The programme features talks by: multi-award winning journalist and former executive editor of The Scotsman Bill Jamieson; historical fiction author Sara Sheridan; Christopher Fleet, the National Library of Scotland's map curator and local historian and Hidden Aberdeen tour operator Dr Fiona-Jane Brown, among others.

The conference also includes an historical book sale, an exhibition of creative works reflecting local history, historical book sale and a heritage stall offering the opportunity to find out more about researching local and family history.

Aberdeen City Council’s Convener of Education and Children’s Services Committee Councillor Angela Taylor said: “This free conference is a fabulous opportunity for anyone interested in Aberdeen and its rich and diverse history to find out more.

“With so many renowned experts on hand to give their views and assistance and some light entertainment on offer to round the day off this free event is bound to be popular. I’d recommend people book their place on the conference quickly to avoid disappointment.”

Map curator Christopher Fleet said: “Maps provide a window into local history, allowing us to see it in one of its most enthralling forms. However, these ‘windows’ are never simply transparent. By looking at who created the map, the driving forces behind it, and who it was intended for, we can learn more about the place and time.

“Scotland has been powerfully shaped on paper and in the imagination by being represented on maps, and by examining the reasons for this, we can more fully understand their role in shaping Scotland historically and today.”

Sara Sheridan added: “I love history festivals - they’re a chance to look at where we’ve come from and where we’re going. I’m looking forward to talking about women’s history in particular when I’m in Aberdeen. There are so many extraordinary stories that have been all but forgotten. We have some very audacious, female forbears. We should celebrate them.”

Dr Fiona-Jane Brown is the founder of Hidden Aberdeen Tours and the GrAFT Theatre Company, which will perform at the event. She said: “GrAFT stands for ‘Granite city Adventures & Folk Tales’, and that is what we aim to bring as a finale for the conference – a whistle stop tour of Aberdeen’s past through drama and storytelling.”

Speaker Bruce Mann, regional archaeologist for Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Moray, Angus councils said: “The Hall of Mirrors conference will give people a chance to find out about the latest exciting discoveries here in the North-east, while at the same time learn about aspects of archaeology that many will be unaware of.”

Joe Chapman, project development officer for Capturing the Energy, at the University of Aberdeen, who will also speak at the event, said: “2017 is not only Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology but also potentially a watershed moment for the Aberdeen economy, so it’s an ideal time to gain some new perspectives on our understanding of the past and how it might shape the future, with or without North Sea oil.”The event is free to attend and open to all. Refreshments are provided throughout the day but booking in advance is essential.

For more information or to register online visit www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/HallofMirrors

For telephone enquiries, contact Aberdeen’s Library and Information Service’s Local Studies team on 01224 652500.