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The Archaeological Unit

St Nicholas Church Excavation

During 2006, a team of archaeologists led by Aberdeen City Council's Archaeology Unit carried out a major excavation at Aberdeen's historic Kirk of St Nicholas. It was the most extensive and productive excavation to have taken place within a Scottish medieval parish church in modern times. The archaeological dig was brought about by the need to reinforce the foundations of the Mither Kirk for a new development in this exceptional and historic building.

The present church on Union Street dates mainly from the 18th and 19th centuries. It incorporates portions of a 12th-century church and stands on the site of the 15th-century building, one of the largest and most prestigious burgh churches in Scotland. Walls and floors of a succession of medieval church structures have been uncovered by the archaeologists. They have also found a large number of burials (ranging in date from 18th century to 12th century and perhaps earlier) and a remarkable collection of small and large portable 'finds'.

Post-excavation processes of cleaning and cataloguing finds, checking plans, identifying objects, producing numerous drawings and reports and specialist examination of the 924 human skeletons which have been recovered will take a long time. The Kirk of St Nicholas Uniting funds the excavation and post-excavation work.

The Archaeological Unit

The Archaeological Unit has been part of Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums since 1979. It looks after the City's archaeological 'collections' in a wide sense. These include items from Ancient Greece and Egypt as well as Aberdeen and the North-East of Scotland. The main strength being in artefacts from medieval Aberdeen.

Aberdeen is one of a tiny group of European towns where soil conditions have allowed the preservation of organic remains such as wooden building foundations, leather shoes and microscopic remnants of seeds, insects and human parasites!

The Archaeological Unit also cares for the city's superb collections of coins, medals, banknotes and tokens, including several of the medieval coin hoards for which Aberdeen is famous.