Aberdeen Maritime Museum

Useful Information

Location: Shiprow, Aberdeen AB11 5BY.
(57.146456, -2.094881)
Open: All year Mon-Sat 10-17, Sun 11-16.
Fee: free.
Classification: MineOil Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: yes
Address: Aberdeen Maritime Museum, Shiprow, Aberdeen AB11 5BY, Tel: +44-3000-200-293.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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Wide areas of Europe were subsided forming basins during the Mesozoic. For several hundred million years sedimentary rocks were deposited on top of crystalline basement. During some perios it was covered by the sea and marine sediments were deposited, during others it was land and sandstone or silt was deposited. If such an inland sea is deep enough there is no oxygen on the bottom, and animals, anythning between algae and dinosaurs, was deposited on the ground without being decomposed, becaus the bacteria responsibel for decomposition need oxygen. The carbohydrates from the animals became part of the sedimentary rock which is typically called oil shale. For the formation of oil deposits two more layers of rock are needed, a porous rock on top of the oil shale a,d a waterproof silt on top of the porous rock. After some time the carbohydrate become oil and as it is lighter than the groundwater it swims, so the oil moves upwards. If there is a sandstone with silt on top, this is a so-called oil trap, the oil is trapped by the water resistant layer, which is also oil resistant.

Oil deposits are found in all parts of those Mesozoic sediments, all over Europe, but the biggest are on the continental shelf between Great Britain and Norway. And half of this area belongs to Great Britain.


We have listed the Aberdeen Maritime Museum under mines, which is at first a bit strange. However, Aberdeen is located at the sea, has an important harbour, and is thus one of the main bases of the northern North Sea oil exploration and exploitation. The maritime museum is obviously the right place for the oil museum. It has a huge exposition on all aspects of the British oil and gas mining on the North Sea shelf. The main highlight of the exposition is a 9 m high model of the Murchison platform.