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King College, Aberdeen  /

Built in 1498, King’s College Chapel, in Old Aberdeen, is situated in the heart of the university. This medieval design has an iconic crowned roof which symbolises King James IV’s imperial authority over that of Rome’s. Slate, lead and stone support the crown which was replaced after a severe storm in 1633.

 

Beneath the impressive canopy, in the chapel below, three consecration crosses mark the Five Wounds of Christ, a focus for religious devotion in the middle ages. The formal design reflects Solomon’s Temple and its choir stalls and rood screen are reminders of the building’s pre-reformation history. 

 

The college’s founder, bishop Elphinstone, is buried beneath the chancel. He was responsible for the introduction of printing in Scotland, and established the university via a papal bull as there was an urgent need for doctors, lawyers and schoolmasters. It was dedicated to the pursuit of truth in the service of others. 

 

However, it has been revealed that the bishop’s body is missing from the site. In the 19th century a professor recorded that the chapel’s floor had been lifted for damp-proofing and the tomb was empty, having obviously been disturbed. At St. Machar’s cathedral, only a stone’s throw up the cobbled streets, a watch-house is situated at the cemetery gates. Here, night guards protected corpses from a profitable bodysnatching trade which took place in Aberdeen in the 1700s. It remains to be seen if bishop Elphinstone’s remains suffered a similar fate. 

This project was a collaboration with writer Adelle Stripe who explored the city with me and created the stories and histories that sit alongside the thirteen main images from the exhibition. Secret Cities Aberdeen was part of the SPECTRA Festival of Light 2017 in Aberdeen and commissioned by Curated Place. 


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