Aberdeenshire (Scots: Aiberdeenshire; Scottish Gaelic: Siorrachd Obar Dheathain) is one of the 32 council areas of Scotland.

Siorrachd Obar Dheathain
Official logo of Aberdeenshire Aiberdeenshire Siorrachd Obar Dheathain
Coordinates: 57°9′3.6″N 2°7′22.8″W / 57.151000°N 2.123000°W / 57.151000; -2.123000
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Lieutenancy areasAberdeenshire, Banffshire (Part), Kincardineshire
Admin HQAberdeen
 • BodyAberdeenshire Council
 • ControlCon + LD + Ind (council NOC)
 • MPs
 • MSPs
 • Total2,437 sq mi (6,313 km2)
 • RankRanked 4th
 • Total263,750
 • RankRanked 6th
 • Density110/sq mi (42/km2)
GSS codeS12000034
ISO 3166 codeGB-ABD

It takes its name from the County of Aberdeen, which has substantially different boundaries. The Aberdeenshire Council area includes all of the area of the historic counties of Aberdeenshire and Kincardineshire (except the area making up Aberdeen City council area), as well as part of Banffshire. The county boundaries are officially used for a few purposes, namely land registration and lieutenancy.[1]

Aberdeenshire Council is headquartered at Woodhill House, in Aberdeen, making it the only Scottish council whose headquarters are located outside its jurisdiction. Aberdeen itself forms a different council area (Aberdeen City). Aberdeenshire borders onto Angus and Perth and Kinross to the south, Highland and Moray to the west and Aberdeen City to the east.

Traditionally, it has depended economically on the primary sector (agriculture, fishing, and forestry) and related processing industries. Over the last 40 years, the development of the oil and gas industry and associated service sector has broadened Aberdeenshire's economic base, and contributed to a rapid population growth of some 50% since 1975.[2] Its land represents 8% of Scotland's overall territory. It covers an area of 6,313 square kilometres (2,437 sq mi).[3][4]


1654 map covering "Aberdonia & Banfia" (Banffshire)
Topographic map of Aberdeenshire and Moray

Aberdeenshire has a rich prehistoric and historical heritage. It is the locus of a large number of Neolithic and Bronze Age archaeological sites, including Longman Hill, Kempstone Hill, Catto Long Barrow and Cairn Lee. The area was settled in the Bronze Age by the Beaker culture, who arrived from the south around 2000–1800 BC.[5] Stone circles and cairns were constructed predominantly in this era. In the Iron Age, hill forts were built.[5] Around the 1st century AD, the Taexali people, who have left little history, were believed to have resided along the coast.[5] The Picts were the next documented inhabitants of the area and were no later than 800–900 AD. The Romans also were in the area during this period, as they left signs at Kintore.[5] Christianity influenced the inhabitants early on, and there were Celtic monasteries at Old Deer and Monymusk.[5]

Since medieval times, there have been many traditional paths that crossed the Mounth (a spur of mountainous land that extends from the higher inland range to the North Sea slightly north of Stonehaven) through present-day Aberdeenshire from the Scottish Lowlands to the Highlands. Some of the most well-known and historically important trackways are the Causey Mounth and Elsick Mounth.[6][7]

Aberdeenshire played an important role in the fighting between the Scottish clans. Clan MacBeth and the Clan Canmore were two of the larger clans. Macbeth fell at Lumphanan in 1057.[5] During the Anglo-Norman penetration, other families arrive, such as House of Balliol, Clan Bruce, and Clan Cumming (Comyn).[5] During the Scottish Wars of Independence, the English invaders’ king Edward I travelled across the area twice, in 1296 and 1303. In 1307, Robert the Bruce was victorious near Inverurie.

These new families set the stage for the upcoming rivalries during the 14th and 15th centuries.[5] This rivalry grew worse during and after the Protestant Reformation when religion was another reason for conflict between the clans. The Gordon family adhered to Catholicism and the Forbeses to Protestantism. Aberdeenshire was the historic seat of the clan Dempster.[8][9] Three universities were founded in the area prior to the 17th century, King's College in Old Aberdeen (1494), Marischal College in Aberdeen (1593), and the University of Fraserburgh (1597).[5]

During the 17th century, Aberdeenshire was the location of more fighting, centred on the Marquess of Montrose and the Wars of the Three Kingdoms.[5] This period also saw increased wealth due to the increase in trade with Germany, Poland, and the Low Countries.[5]

After the end of the Revolution of 1688, an extended peaceful period was interrupted only by fleeting events such as the Rising of 1715 and the Rising of 1745. The latter resulted in the end of the ascendancy of Episcopalianism and the feudal power of landowners. An era began of increased agricultural and industrial progress.[5]

The present council area is named after the historic county of Aberdeenshire, which has different boundaries and was abandoned as an administrative area in 1975 under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973. It was replaced by Grampian Regional Council and five district councils: Banff and Buchan, Gordon, Kincardine and Deeside, Moray and the City of Aberdeen. Local government functions were shared between the two levels. In 1996, under the Local Government, etc. (Scotland) Act 1994, the Banff and Buchan District, Gordon District, and Kincardine and Deeside District were merged to form the present Aberdeenshire Council area. Moray and the City of Aberdeen were made their own council areas. The present Aberdeenshire Council area consists of all of the historic counties of Aberdeenshire and Kincardineshire (except the area of those two counties making up the City of Aberdeen), as well as the north-east portions of Banffshire.[5]



The population of the council area has risen over 50% since 1971 to approximately 263,750,[10] representing 4.7% of Scotland's total. Aberdeenshire's population has increased by 9.1% since 2001, while Scotland's total population grew by 3.8%. The census lists a relatively high proportion of under 16s and slightly fewer working-age people compared with the Scottish average.[2]

Aberdeenshire is one of the most homogeneous/indigenous regions of the UK. In 2011, 82.2% of residents identified as 'White Scottish', followed by 12.3% who are 'White British', whilst ethnic minorities constitute only 0.9% of the population. The largest ethnic minority group are Asian Scottish/British at 0.8%.[11] In addition to the English language, 48.8% of residents reported being able to speak and understand the Scots language.[12]



The largest settlements in Aberdeenshire are:

Settlement Population
Mid-2010[13] (2020)[14]
Peterhead 17,790


Inverurie 11,590


Fraserburgh 12,540


Westhill 11,220


Stonehaven 10,820


Ellon 9,910


Portlethen 7,130


Banchory 7,030


Kintore 4,180


Turriff 5,020


Huntly 4,570


Banff 3,720


Kemnay 3,710


Macduff 3,910


Laurencekirk 2,650


Oldmeldrum 2,990


Blackburn 2,720


Newtonhill 3,080


Aboyne 2,440


Mintlaw 2,610




Aberdeenshire's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is estimated at £3,496M (2011), representing 5.2% of the Scottish total. Aberdeenshire's economy is closely linked to Aberdeen City's (GDP £7,906M), and in 2011, the region as a whole was calculated to contribute 16.8% of Scotland's GDP. Between 2012 and 2014, the combined Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City economic forecast GDP growth rate is 8.6%, the highest growth rate of any local council area in the UK and above the Scottish rate of 4.8%.[2]

A significant proportion of Aberdeenshire's working residents commute to Aberdeen City for work, varying from 11.5% from Fraserburgh to 65% from Westhill.

Average Gross Weekly Earnings (for full-time employees employed in workplaces in Aberdeenshire in 2011) are £572.60. This is lower than the Scottish average by £2.10 and a fall of 2.6% on the 2010 figure. The average gross weekly pay of people resident in Aberdeenshire is much higher, at £741.90, as many people commute out of Aberdeenshire, principally into Aberdeen City.[2]

Total employment (excluding farm data) in Aberdeenshire is estimated at 93,700 employees (Business Register and Employment Survey 2009). The majority of employees work within the service sector, predominantly in public administration, education and health. Almost 19% of employment is within the public sector. Aberdeenshire's economy remains closely linked to Aberdeen City's and the North Sea oil industry, with many employees in oil-related jobs.

The average monthly unemployment (claimant count) rate for Aberdeenshire in 2011 was 1.5%. This is lower than the average rate of Aberdeen City (2.3%), Scotland (4.2%) and the UK (3.8%).[2]

Major industries

Blueberries grown in Aberdeenshire
  • Energy – There are significant energy-related infrastructure, presence and expertise in Aberdeenshire.[15] Peterhead is an important centre for the energy industry. Peterhead Port includes an extensive new quay with an adjacent laydown area at Smith Quay, is a major support location for North Sea oil and gas exploration and production and the fast-growing global sub-sea sector. The Gas Terminal at St Fergus handles around 15% of the UK's natural gas requirements, and the Peterhead power station is looking to host Britain's first carbon capture and storage power generation project.[2] There are numerous offshore wind turbines near the coast.
  • Fishing – Aberdeenshire is Scotland's foremost fishing area. In 2010, catches landed at Aberdeenshire's ports accounted for over half the total fish landings in Scotland and almost 45% in the UK. Along with Aberdeen City, Peterhead and Fraserburgh ports provide much employment in these sectors. The River Dee[5] is also rich in salmon.
  • Agriculture – Aberdeenshire is rich in arable land, with an estimated 9,000 people employed in the sector, and is best known for rearing livestock, mainly cattle. Sheep are important in the higher ground.[5]
  • Tourism – this sector continues to grow, with a range of sights to be seen in the area. From the lively Cairngorm Mountain range to the bustling fishing ports on the northeast coast, Aberdeenshire samples a bit of everything. Aberdeenshire also has a rugged coastline, many sandy beaches and is a hot spot for tourist activity throughout the year. Almost 1.3 million tourists visited the region in 2011 – up 3% on the previous year.[16]
  • Whisky distilling is still a practised art in the area.[5]



Notable features

Ythan Estuary nature reserve, with tern colonies and dunes in background.
The B976 road near Gairnshiel
An old lime kiln at Badenyon

The following significant structures or places are within Aberdeenshire:

Hydrology and climate

Ben Macdui, the United Kingdom's second-highest mountain

There are numerous rivers and burns in Aberdeenshire, including Cowie Water, Carron Water, Burn of Muchalls, River Dee, River Don, River Ury, River Ythan, Water of Feugh, Burn of Myrehouse, Laeca Burn and Luther Water. Numerous bays and estuaries are found along the seacoast of Aberdeenshire, including Banff Bay, Ythan Estuary, Stonehaven Bay and Thornyhive Bay. Aberdeenshire has a marine west coast climate on the Köppen climate classification. Aberdeenshire is in the rain shadow of the Grampians, therefore it has a generally dry climate for a maritime region, with portions of the coast receiving 25 inches (64 cm) of moisture annually.[5] Summers are mild, and winters are typically cold in Aberdeenshire; Coastal temperatures are moderated by the North Sea such that coastal areas are typically cooler in the summer and warmer in winter than inland locations. Coastal areas are also subject to haar, or coastal fog.

Notable residents



  1. ^ Land Register Counties & Operational Dates Archived 28 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Aberdeenshire Council – Profile 2012" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 February 2014. Retrieved 11 July 2012.
  3. ^ "Aberdeenshire profile" (PDF). Aberdeenshire Council. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 March 2014. Retrieved 9 October 2013.
  4. ^ Turner, Barry, ed. (2013). "Scotland". The Statesman's Yearbook 2014. Macmillan Publishers Ltd. p. 1301. ISBN 978-0-230-37769-1.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Hoiberg, Dale H., ed. (2010). "Aberdeenshire". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. I: A-ak Bayes (15th ed.). Chicago, IL: Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. pp. 28–29. ISBN 978-1-59339-837-8.
  6. ^ W. Douglas Simpson, "The Early Castles of Mar", Proceedings of the Society, 102, 10 December 1928
  7. ^ The Megalithic Portal and Megalith Map. "C.Michael Hogan, Elsick Mounth, Megalithic Portal, ed. Andy Burnham". Megalithic.co.uk. Archived from the original on 10 June 2011. Retrieved 6 July 2011.
  8. ^ Geni - William Leslie
  9. ^ The New Statistical Account of Scotland
  10. ^ "Mid-Year Population Estimates, UK, June 2022". Office for National Statistics. 26 March 2024. Retrieved 3 May 2024.
  11. ^ "Aberdeenshire Council Identity in 2011 Census" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 9 October 2022.
  12. ^ "What's happening in... Aberdeenshire's Towns Inverurie & Port Elphinstone" (PDF). August 2019. Archived (PDF) from the original on 9 October 2022.
  13. ^ "National Records of Scotland, Statistics and Data, Statistics, Statistics by Theme, Population, Population Estimates, Settlements and Localities, Archive, Mid-2010, List of Tables". Retrieved 19 July 2023.
  14. ^ "Mid-2020 Population Estimates for Settlements and Localities in Scotland". National Records of Scotland. 31 March 2022. Retrieved 31 March 2022.
  15. ^ Shepherd, Mike (2015). Oil Strike North Sea: A first-hand history of North Sea oil. Luath Press.
  16. ^ "Aberdeenshire Council – Profile 2012" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 February 2014. Retrieved 2 January 2013.
  17. ^ a b c Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607–1896. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who. 1963.
  18. ^ "Follow The Paper Trail". www.heraldscotland.com. Herald & Times Group. Retrieved 16 February 2016.
  19. ^ "Rough Cut Nation (Exhibition Notes)". National Galleries Scotland. National Galleries Scotland. Retrieved 27 February 2016.