The Pageant of Royal Deeside

Pageant type


The pageant was organised by Aberdeenshire Education Committee's 'Deeside Youth Panel'.

Jump to Summary


Place: Aboyne Castle (Aboyne) (Aboyne, Aberdeenshire, Scotland)

Year: 1949

Indoors/outdoors: Outdoors

Number of performances: 1


6 August 1949 at 3 pm

Aboyne Castle was 'loaned for the occasion' by its owner the Marquis of Huntly. The performance took place on the lawns beside the Castle.

Name of pageant master and other named staff

  • Master of the Pageant: Gordon, Douglas Charles Lindsey, the 12th Marquess of Huntly
  • Master of the Arena: Lt.-Col. W. Lilburn
  • Master of the Arena: Brigadier C.V.A. Jackson
  • Drama Supervisor: Mr H.L. Mitchell.
  • Commentator: Mr A.M. Shinnie


The Marquis of Huntly's title as Master was, most likely, honorary, and production of the pageant was likely a combined effort by the two military men who acted as Masters of the Arena and by H. Mitchell who was at the time County Drama Advisor to Aberdeenshire Education Committee.3 Commentary on the action of the pageant was carried out my A.M. Shinnie; described as an 'actor and producer'. He worked for the BBC.4

Names of executive committee or equivalent

Pageant Committee:

  • Chairman: Mr J.S. Davidson, MA
  • Secretary: Mr J.F. Davidson, MA
  • Other members:
  • Mrs C.M. Blair
  • Mrs J.M. Fraser
  • Miss I.H. Grant, MA
  • Miss A. McKenzie
  • Mr J.R. Cardno MA
  • Mr G.H. Chisnall
  • Mr S.W. Dear, BSc
  • Rev. D. Hamilton
  • Sir Thomas Innes of Learny, KVO
  • Brigadier C.V.A. Jackson, CIE, CBE
  • Lt.-Col. W. Lilburn
  • Mr H.L. Mitchell
  • Rev. W.A. Macdonell, MA
  • Lt.-Col. J. Nicol, DSO
  • Capt. A.G. Ross, DCM
  • Mr R. Still, MA
  • Fenton Wyness, FRIBA, FSAScot


The committee was made up of 15 men and 4 women. Of the men, four had military titles, two were ministers of the church, and there appears to have been at least four schoolteachers since they gave their addresses as local schoolhouses.

Names of script-writer(s) and other credited author(s)

  • Wyness, Fenton
  • Bruce, George
  • Shakespeare, William


The pageant was based on the work of (James) Fenton Wyness (1903–1974), who had first published the booklet, Deeside: Phases of the Valley, with Brief Historical Notes, 1943. It is unclear if Wyness himself wrote the dramatic treatment for the pageant, but this is probable. He was well known locally as an architect and antiquarian and was involved with youth organisations, including as Aberdeen County Commissioner for the Boy Scouts.6 Wyness provided a synopsis of the local history included within the pageant within the event's programme; unfortunately, this does not include any of the content of the narrative itself. It is likely narration was provided in voiceover rather than dialogue.

George Bruce worked for the BBC and wrote a poem called Dedication to Youth for the pageant.7 It is unclear precisely at what point this was narrated, but it appears likely that this formed part of the epilogue.

Shakespeare's Macbeth was a clear influence on scene V, which includes his character of Macduff.

Names of composers


Numbers of performers


The performers were 'girls and boys' from local youth organisations. Horses were used in many of the episodes, particularly for hunting and martial scenes such as in scenes V, X, XII, XIII and XV.

Financial information

It is likely that some surplus was made given the numbers who attended; however, financial records have not been recovered.

Object of any funds raised

Deeside Youth Panel


Advertisements noted that any surplus made would go towards the work of 'Youth organisations in the Deeside Area'.9

Linked occasion


Audience information

  • Grandstand: Not Known
  • Grandstand capacity: n/a
  • Total audience: n/a


There was seating capacity for 1700 (of an unspecified type). However, there is likely to have been a large standing enclosure. The local press reported a total audience capacity of 15000 in the grounds. 11

The local press also reported '5000 schoolchildren attended' the performance.12

Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest

7s.–1s. 6d.

Ground entrance: 1s. 6d.

Seats: 2s. 6d., 4s., 5s., 7s.

Car Parking: motor cars, 5s; motor cycles, 1s and cycles, 6d.

Advertisements for the pageant indicated that the ground charge of 1s. 6d. was cancelled if seats were reserved in advance.13 Around 10000 people attended indicating that the majority paid for ground admittance only, since the seating capacity was for 1500.

There was a charge for vehicle parking at the Castle.

Associated events


Pageant outline

'Opening Pageantry'

This involved a ceremony wherein a Herald (played by Mr H. Auchinachie, a Banchory Town Councillor) approached the Master of the Pageant (the Marquess of Huntly) for permission to hold the pageant.

Scene I. The Earliest Inhabitants ‘Reindeer Folk’

In the pageant programme the 'Folk' are described as 'a race of wanderers and food-seekers, who, as the ice-age tempered, followed the reindeer into Scotland'.14 The episode was played by youths from the nearby village of Tarland. No further details of the drama enacted have been recovered.

Scene II. The Lake-Dwellers of Devana

This episode covered the Romans in the northeast, highlighting that in 'Ptolemy's map of Scotland, made in about the year 146 AD, a town named Devana' was recorded. The scene depicted purported to show 'everyday life' in this settlement. The players again came from the local community of Tarland.

Scene III. St Machar Converts the Peoples of Cromar to Christianity

The conversion of the Picts by the locally significant saint, St Machar, was the subject of this episode. Pictorial evidence shows that it included an adult in the role of the saint and both boys and girls playing Pictish converts.15 It may have involved a human sacrifice scene, but few details of the drama have been recovered. The players were from the village of Aboyne.

Scene IV. King Kenneth II Hunts in the Braemar

King Kenneth II is described in the programme as 'one of the earliest Royal visitors to Deeside'. It is presumed that this scene involved horsemanship and enacted a hunt. Players involved came from Braemar.

Scene V. Malcolm Canmore Receives Macbeth's Head at Kincardine o' Neil [sic]

The drama of Shakespeare's Macbeth was a clear influence on the scene which depicted 'the gristly gift' of Maelbeatha's head being carried to Kincardine O'Neil [a village in Deeside] where it was 'presented to' Malcolm Canmore. Although Shakespeare based his drama on a historical narrative about the murder of Duncan I, it is evident that, in circular fashion, this scene drew heavily on the Shakespearean interpretation of history as it included the (likely) fictional character of Macduff. The youth of Lumphanan took charge of this episode.

Scene VI. The Knights Templar Visit their Kirk at Aboyne

This scene was organised and played by youths from Aboyne. It depicted the Scoto-Norman 'Walter de Beyseth', who, according to the pageant programme, had established ' a Preceptory of Knights Templar at Maryculter in the Mearns' sometime 'between the years 1221 and 1236'. Walter was a founding member of the locally important Bisset family who were given the lordship of Aboyne by Alexander III in the early twelfth century. The episode enacted the gifting of the church at Aboyne by Bishop Radulphus of Aberdeen to the Knights who were accompanied by Walter.

Scene VII. Alan Durward of Coull Inspects the Hospital at Kincardine o' Neil [sic]

The hospital's founder who was a member of the locally important family of 'Deeside Durwards' was depicted in the episode. It was played by youth from the village of Kincardine O'Neil.16 The programme highlights that the benefactor, Alan Durward, was 'one of the great figures in Scottish history during the 13th century'.

Scene VIII. King Alexander III Pays a Visit to Aboyne Castle

Alexander's association with the locality was highlighted in this episode. It was performed by youth organisations from the village of Aboyne. Alan Durward of Coull had been Regent of Scotland during the young King's minority and Alexander is reputed to have been a frequent visitor to Coull Castle situated nearby. Details of the drama enacted have not been recovered.

Scene IX. Edward I of England Receives the Homage of Sundry Local Barons

This scene was performed by the youth of Glentanar Estate. This was the home of the Coats family, owners of the famous thread manufacturing business in Paisley. The estate was established in the mid-nineteenth century when the then Marquis of Aboyne partitioned his lands and sold off a portion which became the new estate in the ownership of Sir William Cuniliffe Brooks (1819–1900). It was later sold to George Coats in 1905. The drama featured the Wars of Independence. The programme states that during 1296, Aboyne Castle was 'held as an English garrison' and that 'tradition tells that Edward I visited the castle, received the homage of several local lairds and carried off the Aboyne charter chest'. The drama featured the locals 'paying homage' to the English king and this being 'resented by patriots from the ‘wild forests of Mar’ '.

Scene X. The Battle of Culbleam, 30 November 1335.

The wars of Independence were again featured in this episode which was performed by a 'composite' group. This suggests that it involved a large number of players; it is assumed that the drama re-enacted a battle which took place in the wake of the death of Robert the Bruce and at which the large army of Regent Moray, then guardian of Scotland, killed the Balliol supporter, the Earl of Atholl. This episode was followed by an interval in the programme.


Part II (1500 to 'Present Day').

Scene XI. Witches Frolic on Craiglash Hill

Following an interval, the performance restarted with this episode which featured the witch trials in the area in the 16th century. The scene was performed by youths from the village of Torphins. The episode was based on the legend that the 'Torphins Coven of witches held their conventions at Beltane and Hallowe'en' around “an immense granite boulder”—the gryt grey stane’. The episode showed 'a witches' frolic’ on Craiglash Hill: the site of the boulder. The pageant programme mentions many local women whose names featured in the witch trials of the period including Helen Rogie who was burned to death in 1596; the programme claims that had Rogie lived in the twentieth century she might have been 'elected the ‘Glamour Girl of Craiglash’ instead of meeting her terrible fate. It is not known whether the episode featured Rogie or others accused of witchcraft, but the general tone of this programme's piece suggests that the episode was not a serious treatment of the Aberdeenshire witch trial era.

Scene XII. The Battle of Corrichie, 28 October 1562

The pageant programme relates that in 1562, 'Sir John Gordon, third son of the fourth Earl of Huntly was imprisoned by the Magistrates of Edinburgh for causing a breach of the peace by engaging in a street fight with James, Lord Ogilvy, whom he severely injured'. This incident is described as having 'greatly enraged the protestant lords' resulting in a Privy Council being arranged which met with Queen Mary in Aberdeen while she was returning from a visit to the Highlands. The Roman Catholic Earl of Huntly raised an army, which then marched on Aberdeen; the two sides met at Corrichie Burn in Aberdeenshire. Huntly died and his son was later executed. The defeat of the Gordons at this battle was the drama of this episode. It may have included the character of Mary Stuart who in legend reputedly watched the battle from the 'Hill o' Fare', a moorland plateau near Banchory. The episode was performed by youths from Torphins and by members of the local Army Cadet Corps.

Scene XIII. The ‘Black Colonel’ of Inverey Sends out the Fiery Cross before Killiecrankie, 1689.

John Farquharson of Inverey, a local laird known as the 'Black Colonel', was a Jacobite supporter and, according to the pageant programme, had fought with Graham of Claverhouse at Drumclog and Bothwell Bridge. In this episode his raising of the standard to rally his clan members in preparation for the Battle of Killiecrankie, at which the Jacobites were the victors, was re-enacted. The performers were from youth organisations in the small town of Ballater.

Scene XIV. The Origin of the Reel of Tullich

This episode was based on a version of local legend about the origins of this famous reel. The story is that on a stormy Sunday morning the congregation of the village of Tullich waited overlong at their local kirk for their Minister to show up to conduct worship. To alleviate the cold they invented this energetic dance. The pageant programme states that later the 'congregation was soundly rebuked by the minister for this terrible act of sacrilege and not a single person who took part survived the year—or so legends say!' The scene was enacted by youths from Aboyne. Tullich itself declined as a settlement after the introduction of the railways in the nineteenth century when the rail terminus was sited at nearby Ballater.

Scene XV. The Stuart Standard is Raised at Braemar, 6 September, 1715

The drama of the Jacobite rebellion was the subject of this scene, which as enacted by organisations based in Braemar. In the pageant programme, the standard is described as 'of bright blue colour, having on one side the Arms of Scotland... and on the other the brave thistle of Scotland with these words underneath, “No Union”, and on the top the ancient motto, “Nemo me impune lacessit”'. It was further declared to have been, 'an impressive and colourful sight' but marred when 'the gilt ball decorating the top of the flag pole fell to the ground.' According to Fenton Wyness, who wrote this text, 'the superstitious Highlanders' saw this as 'an evil omen' and '[p]erhaps they were right'. The episode featured the character of John Erskine, Earl of Mar, whom Wyness blames for the failure of the rebellion.

Scene XVI. Rob Roy Macgregor Visits his Kinsmen on Deeside

The Jacobites were again revisited in the sixteenth episode which was based on the legend that Rob Roy Macgregor may have visited his clan kin in Cromar. The pageant programme acknowledges that his alleged associations 'have often been disputed'. It was performed by youth organisations from the small village of Tarland. No details of the drama have been recovered.

Scene XVII. The Story of Balnacraig, 1746

This episode retells 'the amusing story of Balnacraig'. In this legend, following the defeat of the second Jacobite rebellion, Redcoats arrived at the home built by the local laird and Jacobite supporter, James Innes. While the laird hid nearby, his wife and daughter distracted the soldiers by offering such good hospitality that the Recoats (under orders to destroy Balnacraig) left in such 'high glee' that they forgot their orders and the house and family survived.17 Details of the performance have not been recovered. The scene was performed by youth from the Finzean estate.

Scene XVIII. The Young Lord Byron Visits Ballaterich and Pannanich Wells

This scene recalled the visits of Byron during his childhood to Ballaterich farm and the nearby spa of Pannanich Wells. The programme states that 'it is believed that Mary Robertson, daughter of the farmer at Ballaterich, was the Mary referred to in Byron's Hours of Idleness'. This volume was published when Byron was 19 years old in 1807 and in one poem he writes of 'sweet Mary'. The pageant programme's author states that this woman, who died in 1867, was referred to all her life as 'Byron's Mary'. Organisations from Ballater performed in the episode, further details of which have not been recovered.

Scene XIX. Queen Victoria Lays the Foundation Stone of Crathie Church, 11 September 1893

This episode re-enacted the ceremony which took place in 1983 when Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone of Crathie Church. Queen Victoria, 'accompanied by the Duke and Duchess of Connaught, the Princess Beatrice, the Duke and Duchess of York and several of the Queen's grandchildren', was part of the ceremony at which the 122nd psalm was sung. It is not known if this music was also a part of the scene's re-enactment. Youths from the village of Crathie, which has had royal associations since Victoria's time, performed this piece. King George also loaned Queen Victoria's phaeton carriage for use in the performance; and 14-year-old Sheila Watson whose father was employed as a mason on the Balmoral Estate played Queen Victoria.18 Another child, Lena Cruikshank, who carried Queen Victoria's parasol during her performance, played Princess Beatrice.19

Scene XX. Royal Deeside—100 Years of Popularity

This century was dated from 1848 when Queen Victoria first visited Balmoral and in the wake of this other visitors were attracted—which meant that improved transport infrastructure arrived in the shape of railway lines. Few details of the performance have been recovered; however, information in the pageant programme suggests that this may have included the enactment of sporting pursuits:

With increased transport facilities came the desire to get out of doors—shooting, fishing and golf, tennis and bowls, hiking, mountaineering and ski-ing all received a tremendous fillip and Royal Deeside could provide facilities for them all. Little wonder that the beautiful valley of the Dee has enjoyed one hundred years of popularity.

The 'Deeside Area' performed in this episode; suggesting all involved with the pageant took part.

Epilogue and Dedication

This again involved the whole cast. Details have not been recovered but it is likely that some sort of spectacle was presented and the poem ‘Dedication to Youth’ by George Bruce was narrated. This was specially written for the pageant, but the text is not included in the programme.

Key historical figures mentioned

  • Kenneth II [Cináed mac Maíl Choluim] (d. 995) king in Scotland
  • Malcolm III [Mael Coluim Ceann Mór, Malcolm Canmore] (d. 1093) king of Scots
  • Macbeth [Mac Bethad mac Findlaích] (d. 1057) king of Scots
  • Macduff [Macduib] (fl. 1057–1058), ‘thane’ of Fife found in Dubh [Duff; Dub mac Mael Coluim] (d. 966) king in Scotland
  • Durward, Alan (d. 1275) magnate
  • Alexander III (1241–1286) king of Scots
  • Edward I (1239–1307) king of England and lord of Ireland, and duke of Aquitaine
  • Strathbogie, David, styled eleventh earl of Atholl (1309–1335)
  • Murray [Moray], Sir Andrew, of Bothwell (1298–1338) soldier and administrator
  • Mary [Mary Stewart] (1542–1587) queen of Scots
  • Gordon, George, fourth earl of Huntly (1513–1562) magnate
  • Gordon, George, fifth earl of Huntly (d. 1576) magnate
  • Erskine, John, styled twenty-second or sixth earl of Mar and Jacobite duke of Mar (bap. 1675, d. 1732) Jacobite army officer, politician, and architect
  • MacGregor [later Campbell], Robert [known as Rob Roy] (bap. 1671, d. 1734) outlaw and folk hero
  • Byron, George Gordon Noel, sixth Baron Byron (1788–1824) poet [also known as Byron, Lord]
  • Victoria (1819–1901) queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and empress of India
  • Arthur, Prince, first duke of Connaught and Strathearn (1850–1942) governor-general of Canada, army officer, and son of Queen Victoria
  • Beatrice, Princess [married name Princess Henry of Battenberg] (1857–1944)

Musical production

It is unclear if there was musical accompaniment for this pageant.

Newspaper coverage of pageant

Aberdeen Press and Journal

Book of words


No Book of Words

Other primary published materials

  • The Pageant of Royal Deeside, Saturday 6th August 1949 at 3 pm, Souvenir Programme. Aberdeen, 1949. Price: 1s. 6d.

A pictorial record of the pageant was included in the [Aberdeen] Weekly Journal, 4 August 1949. Images were taken at dress rehearsals and described as a 'preview' of the event. A further pictorial record was published in a souvenir supplement the following week in this same paper on 10 August 1949; this included two pages of photographs of the performance.

References in secondary literature


Archival holdings connected to pageant

  • Aberdeen City Archives holds a copy of some 16mm film of the pageant. ED/GR6S/K4/4/4.
  • One copy of the programme available in Aberdeen Central Library, Local History section. LP 394.5.

Sources used in preparation of pageant

  • Wyness, Fenton. Deeside: Phases of the Valley, with Brief Historical Notes. Aberdeen, 1943.

Wyness's booklet was one of a series on local history and topography.


In the preface to the programme of the pageant, Councillor Thomas B. Work, who chaired Aberdeenshire's Education Committee, highlighted that youth services in the county had been developed over the past 'six or seven years', creating 'nine Youth Panels' along district lines.20 That which covered the Deeside district was responsible for this particular pageant, and it seems clear that this was an educational initiative, with part of the cost being underwritten by the Education Committee.21 Its narrative was centred on local history. Local architect and active antiquarian, Fenton Wyness, who was author of much of the pageant programme and who may have been responsible for, or at least contributed to, the dramatic treatment which the pageant enacted, had also been commissioned by the Education Committee to write a series of booklets aimed at arousing 'the interest of Youth Club members in the lore of their own districts'. At the time of the pageant, four of these had been published with the series title 'Let's Look Around'.22 The pageant was most likely an offshoot of this enterprise, given that one of these on the subject of the Deeside area had emerged in 1943. Wyness was a prolific author of such short works during his lifetime.

The pageant took place on a single day on a Saturday afternoon; the south front of Aboyne Castle was the ‘set-piece’ against which the pageant took place.23 The castle was then in the ownership of the Marquis [sometimes styled Marquess] of Huntly who had acquired it in 1944.24 The pageant's organisation seems to have been undertaken by individuals who already had a role in local youth organisations. Many came from a military background, perhaps not surprising during this post-war period, and the pageant also involved local army cadets.25 Some of the committee, as well as other adult youth leaders, also took on roles within the pageant performance.26 The pageant involved several months of planning and was initially publicised in December 1948.27 Its cast of 500 players was made up of the members of the youth groups who came under the banner of Deeside Youth Panel. These included the girls' organisations of the Brownies, Girl Guides, Girls' Guildry, the Girls' Training Corps and Girls' Life Brigade; male organisations were the Scouts, the Boys' Brigade, the Sea Cadets and Sea Scouts. In addition, there were members from mixed groups such as the Junior Red Cross and the Local Young Farmers' Clubs, as well as local, non-nationally affiliated youth clubs.28 There were longer-term plans to hold such pageants in the remaining eight areas which had youth panels in the northeast.29

The drama aimed to encompass 6000 years of local history. The 'opening pageantry' consisted of a prologue described by Wyness as being based on the medieval tradition wherein 'it was necessary for the Master of the Pageant to seek formal permission from the Baron of the Barony on whose domain the Pageant was held'.30 In the event, this ritual was slightly altered with 'Mr H. Auchinachie, a Banchory Town Councillor', in the guise of a 'Herald', approaching the Marquess of Huntly 'for permission to proceed'.31 The first of twenty scenes was then enacted, depicting prehistoric times and with a drama containing what the scriptwriter named as the 'Reindeer People'. Across the whole pageant, a 'running commentary... linking up the different events' was provided by a radio producer and actor employed by BBC called A.M. Shinnie.32 Although it cannot be corroborated, it seems unlikely that there was any kind of dialogue performed; rather Shinnie narrated the action and summary details of what was being recreated were given in the pageant programme. Technology was employed, however, with a loudspeaker system being used, as well as field telephones.33

Following the opening ceremony, the remaining programme was split into two parts: the first covered prehistoric times up until the fourteenth century; the second part encompassed the period between 1500 and the recent past. The episodes proceeded chronologically; following a scene centred on the Romans, the arrival of Christianity, reputed to have been introduced by the legendary Saint Machar, was performed. In scene III, the first intimations of Deeside's royal connections and its association with hunting were intimated in a depiction of a royal hunt involving Kenneth II of Scotland. From there, the first part of the pageant continued with episodes centred on various local heroes from the medieval history of the area, including the monarchs Alexander III and a King possibly better known nationally from theatre, Malcolm Canmore. The latter featured in Episode V when the head of Macbeth was presented to him. Part1 of the pageant culminated in the time of the Wars of Independence. It is notable that throughout these episodes habitual characters generally central to the treatment of the Wars in Scottish pageants, such as William Wallace and Robert the Bruce, do not make an appearance. On the other hand, Edward I of England does feature within Episode IX, making an alleged visit to Aboyne Castle. However, generally, the pageant's coverage of this period of conflict with England is intensely focussed on well-known local sites and individuals.

An interval was then held in the proceedings and refreshments in the form of 'afternoon and high teas' were available to buy in the grounds (the catering had been put out to tender a few months beforehand).34 The second part of the pageant took place thereafter, beginning with a dramatic treatment of a witches' coven. Although the notorious witch trials of the northeast were mentioned in the pageant programme, there is no indication that these were in any way covered within the pageant, and the sixteenth-century era of hysteria about witchcraft seems to have been handled as a light-hearted affair. From this, the pageant entered the period of Jacobite struggle and the strong local loyalties to this cause in the past were made clear. Episodes XI, XII, XIII, XV, XVI and XVII all cover the Jacobites in some form and mostly feature locally known figures that were sympathetic to the cause, with only one nationally famous individual, Rob Roy, featuring as a central character. In the middle of this series, Episode XIV, on the legend of the origins of the dance, the 'Reel of Tullich', was no doubt presented as light relief from this tense drama on the Jacobites, which, although it held many successes, is remembered more for its failures. Indeed, the final humiliation of the Jacobites was finessed through a comic performance of a local legend. This told of a local laird's wife who managed to provide such good hospitality to Redcoats when they threatened her home that they went off forgetting about the fire and pillage they were meant to deliver!

The last three episodes took the pageant into the nineteenth and twentieth centuries: beginning with a romantic tale of a visit made by the poet Lord Byron during his boyhood. The final episodes importantly highlight local pride in the area's connection with the royal family, which had given the locality the title 'Royal Deeside'. This appellation came into common usage because of the location of Balmoral Castle and because of the legacy of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's great affection for the area—both of which increased the attractions of Deeside to tourists. Indeed, this association was celebrated as the subject of the final episode which drew attention to the various sporting activities popular with royalty and the upper classes, and which continued to be offered to a wider spectrum of visitors.

On the day of the event, the weather was a little blustery, but it did not rain.35 The windy weather may account for the fact that pageant music is not mentioned in any of the reporting on the pageant and the programme contains no information about either live or recorded music. Given that there was a loudspeaker system, and at least one scene contained dance, it seems unlikely there was no music played at all; however, the audibility of that played may have been adversely affected by the weather.

Although financial records have not been found, it is likely that this pageant at least broke even financially. There was something of a ready-made audience for the pageant in terms of the membership of youth groups in the wider county, and these may have made up a substantial proportion of the 10000-strong spectatorship. Even so, it is likely that at this time of year a good number of tourists did also attend. Those who bought the cheapest tickets were able to take advantage of the 'natural amphitheatre' provided by sloping lawns.36 Unfortunately, although the royal family were at Balmoral during August, no family member attended the pageant.37 Had this been the case, capacity of over 15000 might have been reached. However, Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother) did request to see a copy of the colour film made of the pageant and this was arranged later in the year when the family again came to Balmoral.38 Public showings were also held.39

Overall, this was a learning experience for the youths involved who were encouraged to play the fullest part: all made their own costumes and most of the props and it was said that adults were involved only to 'provide advice' and not to 'spoon-feed' those taking part.40 From the outset, it was emphasised that the pageant aimed to encourage 'initiative and self-reliance' among the youths. 41 As the press commented, this effort involved, 'arts, crafts, drama and history, and was as much an educational triumph as a grand spectacle'.42 In the wake of the pageant, the committee chairman, James Davidson, wrote to the local press, thanking everyone who had made the pageant a success 'that had attracted praise from all quarters'.43 Plans to hold pageants in all nine Youth Panel districts do not seem to have been fulfilled, however, although a further one did take place at Drum Castle in Festival of Britain year organised by the 'Aberdeen Landward Area'.44


  1. ^ The Pageant of Royal Deeside, Saturday 6th August 1949 at 3 pm, Souvenir Programme (Aberdeen, 1949), 2.
  2. ^ The Pageant of Royal Deeside, Saturday 6th August 1949 at 3 pm, Souvenir Programme (Aberdeen, 1949), 2.
  3. ^ 'Schoolgirl Queen Triumph in Deeside Pageant', Aberdeen Journal, 8 August 1949, 6.
  4. ^ Brief note made in the Aberdeen Journal, 20 May 1949, 2.
  5. ^ The Pageant of Royal Deeside, Saturday 6th August 1949 at 3 pm, Souvenir Programme(Aberdeen, 1949), 5.
  6. ^ See Dictionary of Scottish Architects, Architect Biographies, accessed 29 September 2015,
  7. ^ Noted within the acknowledgments in The Pageant of Royal Deeside, Saturday 6th August 1949 at 3 pm, Souvenir Programme(Aberdeen, 1949), 4.
  8. ^ 'Deeside Pageant of History', Aberdeen Journal, 2 August 1949, 6.
  9. ^ See, for example, advertisement, Aberdeen Journal, 21 July 1949, 5.
  10. ^ 'Girl Acts Part of Queen Victoria', Dundee Courier 8 August 1949, 3.
  11. ^ Aberdeen Journal, 2 August 1949, 6.
  12. ^ 'Schoolgirl Queen Triumph in Deeside Pageant', Aberdeen Journal, 8 August 1949, 6.
  13. ^ Advertisement, Aberdeen Journal, 21 July 1949, 5.
  14. ^ Unless otherwise indicated, all quotations in synopses are taken from The Pageant of Royal Deeside, Saturday 6th August 1949 at 3 pm, Souvenir Programme(Aberdeen, 1949).
  15. ^ See photograph of dress rehearsal of this scene in 'St Machar Converts the Pageant Picts', Aberdeen Journal, 26 July 1949, 3.
  16. ^ Kincardine O' Neil is generally written with an uppercase O nowadays, but was given a lower case when named in the pageant programme.
  17. ^ The Pageant of Royal Deeside, Saturday 6th August 1949 at 3 pm, Souvenir Programme (Aberdeen, 1949), 25.
  18. ^ Aberdeen Journal, 8 August 1949, 6.
  19. ^ 'Girl Acts Part of Queen', Aberdeen Journal, 10 August 1949, 3.
  20. ^ The Pageant of Royal Deeside, Saturday 6th August 1949 at 3 pm, Souvenir Programme (Aberdeen, 1949), 8.
  21. ^ The Pageant of Royal Deeside, Saturday 6th August 1949 at 3 pm, Souvenir Programme (Aberdeen, 1949), 8.
  22. ^ Ibid., 8.
  23. ^ Ibid., 12.
  24. ^ Ibid., 10.
  25. ^ Ibid., 7.
  26. ^ See 'Pageant Rehearsals', Aberdeen Journal, 6 July 1949, 3; a picture published shows committee member Gaham Cardno in the role of Alan Durward of Coull. Another performer called William Milne is depicted as the Bishop of Aberdeen.
  27. ^ 'Deeside To Have Pageant', Aberdeen Journal, 24 December 1948, 2.
  28. ^ '500 Will Tell Story of Deeside', Aberdeen Journal, 22 February 1948, 6.
  29. ^ 'Deeside To Have Pageant’, 2.
  30. ^ The Pageant of Royal Deeside, 12
  31. ^ Aberdeen Journal, 8 August 1949, 6.
  32. ^ Ibid., 6.
  33. ^ Ibid., 6.
  34. ^ See advertisement for estimates from caterers, Aberdeen Journal, 15 April 1949, 5.
  35. ^ Aberdeen Journal, 8 August 1949, 6.
  36. ^ Aberdeen Journal, 8 August 1949, 6.
  37. ^ '3000 Welcome Prince Charles to Deeside', Dundee Telegraph, 6 August 1949, 1.
  38. ^ 'Film the Queen Wanted to See', Aberdeen Journal, 21 October 1949, 2; the film was shot by 'Mr Vincent Dason, Cambus o'May Hotel'.
  39. ^ See, for example, note, Aberdeen Journal, 25 November 1949, 2
  40. ^ See note, Aberdeen Journal, 7 January 1949, 2; and 'Deeside Pageant of History', Aberdeen Journal, 2 August 1949, 6.
  41. ^ Aberdeen Journal, 22 February 1948, 6.
  42. ^ Aberdeen Journal, 8 August 1949, 6.
  43. ^ See 'Letters to the Editor', Aberdeen Journal, 15 August 1949, 2.
  44. ^ See Historical Pageant at Drum Castle, 25th August 1951, Souvenir Programme (Aberdeen, 1951).

How to cite this entry

Angela Bartie, Linda Fleming, Mark Freeman, Tom Hulme, Alex Hutton, Paul Readman, ‘The Pageant of Royal Deeside’, The Redress of the Past,