Scottish Government / Greenspace Scotland




Aberdeen, often heralded as the “Granite City,” derives its nickname from the prominent use of granite in its architecture, leaving an indelible mark on its urban landscape. The city’s buildings, streets, and landmarks are crafted from the enduring stone, creating a distinct and resilient aesthetic. However, it also symbolizes the city’s endurance and strength, making it an integral part of the city’s identity. We wanted to reflect this within the design of the memorial by designing a contemporary reinterpretation of a traditional Scottish Cairn made entirely from upcycled granite salvaged from the city itself and given new life within the memorial.


By repurposing this granite into a memorial that will stand as a testament to the challenges faced and overcome, there emerges a powerful metaphor. The continuity of the granite echoes the resilience of the community, while its adaptive reuse in a contemporary context serves as a reminder that even in times of adversity, Aberdeen remains steadfast. The memorial, crafted from the very fabric of the city’s architectural history, becomes a living testament to the unwavering spirit of the people.


Cairns, steeped in Scottish tradition, hold a profound cultural and historical significance. Traditionally used as markers, burial sites, or navigational aids, cairns embody a tangible link to the past, serving as enduring symbols of connection and purpose. Our Cairn will be crafted from granite salvaged from demolished buildings within the city, serving as a powerful symbol of sustainability, resilience, and continuity. Just as granite withstands the test of time, so too has Aberdeen’s community shown remarkable resilience in the face of adversity. By repurposing this enduring material for the memorial, Aberdeen pays homage to its past while looking towards the future with optimism. Each stone will be meticulously stacked to form a circular spiral—a symbolic gesture of continuity and growth.


Engraved on the rear of each stone will be lines from a new commissioned poem, written by the incredibly talented poet Jo Gilbert and inspired by the experiences of the local community during the pandemic. The spiral configuration of the cairn encourages visitors to encircle the sculpture to read the poem, mirroring the community’s collective journey through the pandemic.