The original title deeds for the land on which Aberdeen is situated were signed by the British Governor Lord Charles Somerset in 1817. Aberdeen was established on the farm Brakkefontein which was sold by its owner Jan Vorster to the Dutch Reformed Church in 1855. The new settlement was named Aberdeen in honour of the birthplace of the Reverend Andrew Murray (senior). Many of the title deeds for property in Aberdeen date back to 1857 when the Dutch Reformed Church Council began to sell land to early residents in the precinct surrounding the church.
The 2nd Anglo Boer War caused tremendous dissension between Dutch and English residents of Aberdeen in line with many of the smaller towns scattered across the hinterland of the Cape Colony. During the war, 139 residents of Aberdeen rebelled against the Colonial Administration and joined up with the Boers fighting on behalf of the Orange Free State and the Transvaal. By so doing they were technically traitors as all residents of the Cape Colony irrespective of whether they spoke Dutch or English were British citizens.
Aberdeen boasts a well-preserved architectural heritage with a spectacular array of Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian, Art Nouveau, Gothic Revival and Flemish Revival styles side by side with typical Karoo style cottages interspersed throughout the town.
The Magistrates Court and Post Office are situated in a single building constructed in 1898 from sandstone in the Art Nouveau style. It is believed that the building was built in Aberdeen in error as it was intended as the magistrate’s court in Grahamstown. To add insult to injury the confused builders were not paid for their work. The imposing building features Scottish Baronial, Flemish Revival and Japanese design elements together with two heraldic dragons or griffins and a terracotta roof.
The Dutch Reformed Church dominates the central square in Aberdeen and indeed the entire town. The church boasts an impressive steeple that is visible from many miles distant. The steeple is thought to be the tallest in the country at a little over fifty meters in height.
Some of the best preserved Victorian-era residences in the Karoo can be experienced in Aberdeen some of which are guest houses or private residences.
Some seven kilometers along the highway towards Graaff-Reinet the road passes Gordon’s Kop from where the explorer Captain Robert Jacob Gordon drew a panoramic view of the Camdeboo Mountains in 1777 from the crest of a small koppie or hillock. The spot is marked with a small memorial stone.
25 kilometers from Aberdeen there is an old cast iron bedstead next to the road which according to local folklore marks the grave of a woman who took ill and died while her family was trekking by ox-wagon through the Karoo.