Administrative area: Scotland, Cumberland and Westmorland
The Scottish Section is the largest by area of the Guild’s ten Sections.
The season begins with the spectacular Kirkcaldy Links Market. Extending along a one-mile stretch of the town’s esplanade, it is probably the longest street fair in the world. It was granted in 1304 by charter of Edward I of England as an Easter fair, but is now held at a fixed time in April.
In what used to be Cumberland, a sequence of four fairs in quick succession, ‘The Cumberland Run’, take place along the Solway Firth over the period of the spring bank holiday, beginning at Maryport and ending at Whitehaven.
The Common Ridings along the Borders provide great opportunities for the travelling showmen. The 500-year-old Hawick Common-Riding in June marks the start of these festivities. Other places that hold ridings include Dumfries, Selkirk, Peebles, Jedburgh and Galashiels, where the Braw Lad’s Gathering is celebrated in late June.
First held in the late twelfth century, Glasgow Fair opens on the second Monday in July on Glasgow Green. July is also the month for two fairs that are distinguished by their location. Rathven Market, otherwise known as ‘Peter Fair’, is held in the Banffshire countryside far from the nearest town, the seaport of Buckie. Despite its remoteness, it is a large and popular event.
Tarbert Fair in Argyll, held on the last Thursday in July, was established by a charter of 1705 and stands on the harbour walls of this Loch Fyne fishing village.
The Highland games during the summer attract the support of the showmen, particularly those at Alva and Nairn. August is the month for one of the greatest fairs in this Section. Given by royal permission of King Malcolm in 1153, the St Andrews Lammas Market is the oldest surviving medieval fair in Scotland. Occupying the centre of this university city and golfing capital of the world, the fair begins by tradition with an auction of some of the stances at the two-day Market.
Standing beneath the famous Firth of Forth rail bridge, the seventeenth century Ferry Fair, held at South Queensferry in August, is accompanied by the local custom of Burry Man’s Day. Following the Act of Union in 1707 the growth in demand from England for cattle raised in the highland glens led to the establishment of the huge autumn cattle markets, or ‘trysts’, at Falkirk. The Falkirk Tryst Fair in early September is a legacy of those days.