Freedom Lands of Aberdeen

(Freedom Lands, Stocket Lands)

An ancient and extensive property lying to the west of Aberdeen, the Freedom Lands represent what was once the Royal Forest of Stocket, gifted to the burgesses and people of Aberdeen by Robert the Bruce (1274 - 1329) in 1315. This was confirmed in his Great Charter of 1319 and was a valuable gift, which included not just the land, but mills, timber, hunting rights, river fishings and tolls. This gesture recognised that Aberdonians were some of the first to rise in support of the cause of independence, but also that they had given refuge to Bruce when he was ill. The lands formed the basis of the Common Good Fund of Aberdeen, but were sold off by the city fathers from the 16th C. to pay for various civic projects, not least the laying out of Union Street and the other planned streets of New Aberdeen in the early 19th C.

The Freedom Lands are enclosed within a boundary measuring approximately 26 miles (42 km) in length, defined by sixty-seven markers known as March Stones, which can still be seen today around the city. These March Stones start with one labelled Alpha - lying to the south of Aberdeen Railway Station - and end with Omega (at the mouth of the Don). The lands include much of the Aberdeen Waterfront and New Aberdeen and extend west to the present-day Council Area border beyond Kingswells. In the north, the boundary reaches the River Don for a short section north of Woodside and runs west to Bucksburn and then turns southwest between Brimmond Hill and Elrick Hill. In the south the boundary proceeds west from the mouth of the Dee, passing to the north of Mannofield, Cults and Bieldside.

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