When I was in school, my favourite teachers were those who really knew how to bring a subject to life, to transport you to another time or place and immerse you in something new and unfamiliar. After spending an evening with Dr. Fiona-Jane Brown, I suspect she would have made a very good teacher.
Dr. Brown, of Hidden Aberdeen Tours, has combined her extensive education in Ethnology with her passion for preserving Aberdeen’s rich history and created a unique business that invites her guests on a variety of walking tours throughout the city. Although many topics are on offer, the most popular are the tours that delve into the city’s darker criminal past.
During a two-hour Terror Tour of Torry, I and a sold-out crowd were taken progressively further into the past with each step, hearing of sordid murders, grave robbing and tragic shipwrecks, all of which took place on the very streets on which we stood. The stories were captivating in their own right, but the real hook is in Hidden Aberdeen’s flair for drama.
Through the use of local actors, guests literally come face to face with characters that shaped the folklore of the area. Suddenly, a young lady is being kidnapped before your very eyes and a broken-hearted captain is speaking despairingly about his crew that was lost in sight of home. Some of the scenes are so realistic, it takes restraint to stop yourself trying to intervene.
Most of us are content to live our lives in the present, without ever giving those who came before us their deserved attention. Fortunately for Aberdeen’s forebears, Dr. Fiona-Jane Brown has found a way to ensure that the voices of the past are not only heard, but also remembered.