Scottish Travellers - Non-Romani Groups - Fairground Travellers - History

History

Fairs in Scotland have been held from the early Middle Ages, and traditionally brought together the important elements of medieval trade and a festival. Many of the common markets and fairs are rooted in ancient times, from the medieval period or earlier, and are said to be 'prescriptive fairs'. Other fairs will have been granted a royal charter to cement their importance and secure their future, and these are known as Charter fairs. In the Middle Ages the Royal charters gave the fairs legal status and developed their economic importance. The majority of fairs held in Scotland and the rest of the British Isles can trace their ancestry to charters granted in the medieval period. Traders would travel long distances to sell their goods, as did travelling musicians and entertainers who kept both the traders and customers entertained. In the thirteenth century, the creation of fairs by royal charter was widespread. Between 1199 and 1350 charters were issued granting the rights to hold markets or fairs. Kirkcaldy links market remains the premier funfair in Scotland, evolving from a charter granted by Edward I in 1304. By the early 18th century the main aspect of these Scottish charter fairs had diminished and shifted to that of amusement with the advent of technology, and had evolved into the modern day travelling fairs.

The modern travelling showmen have as strong a family history and heritage as do their counterparts in Wales and England. Fairs in Scotland are presented around the same time as they are in the rest of Great Britain with a similar mixture of Charter, Prescriptive and private business fairs. The run of fairs include Buckie fair, Inverness, Kirkcaldy links market and the historic fairs held at Dundee and Arbroath. Annually a team of young showmen from both Scotland and England play an “international football match” known as the international, where trophies and caps are held in high esteem. A Showman newspaper; World's Fair is in circulation and available to showmen and non showmen alike.

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