A Fair Day in Fife
St Andrews is best known as the home of golf. With 11 courses of international distinction, visitors with a penchant for a putter and a tee will be easily catered for. Many ‘golf widows’ though may agree with Scottish King James II’s decree, banning golf in 1457 as an unwelcome distraction to learning archery. If you do prefer archery, or perhaps have made the most of the courses so far, St Andrews and the rest of Fife have plenty more to offer.
St Andrews Lammas Fair
One option is the Lammas Fair which takes place in St Andrews on the 2nd Monday and Tuesday of August. This event dates back to medieval times, and traditional fair-goers would have been able to purchase all kinds of goods, as well as seek employment in the farms to help bring in the harvest.
In 1838 William Home states in The Every Day Book
"[they] build towers...leaving a hole for a flag-pole in the center so that they may raise their colors." When the flags over the many peat-constructed towers were raised, farmers would go to others' towers and attempt to "level them to the ground." A successful attempt would bring great praise. However, people were allowed to defend their towers, and so everyone was provided with a "tooting-horn" to alert nearby country folk of the impending attack and the battle would turn into a "brawl." According to Hone, more than four people had died at this festival and many more were injured. At the day's end, races were held, with prizes given to the townspeople.
More recently however, the Lammas fair is of a tamer nature, with a fun fair and stalls, as well as a continental market.
Inverkeithing Lammas Fair
Further south down the Forth, Inverkeithing also enjoys a Lammas festival. It can be traced as far back as 1640, and used to be held on Lammas day – which is 1st August. The burgh records of 1652 states that the fair was a day for "fun, frolic, fit races, ale, and drunken folks, and gentel and simple. Nowadays it is held just before the St Andrews fair, on the first Thursday of August.
Organised by the Showman's Guild, it is now an annual fairground held in the centre of Inverkeithing. However ‘fun, frolic and races’ continue in the tradition of the Hat and Ribbon Race. This is probably the oldest foot race in Scotland and involved races between local shepherds to win ribbons for their sweethearts. The prize hat is paraded through town before the race.
If you've missed these events this year, but still want to see what else is in offer in St Andrews and the rest of Fife, how about a guided walk round St Andrews with a professional Scottish Tourist Guide. Take time to hear about the founding of the town of St Andrews once the relics of the saint arrived here in the eight centrury, and the pilgrims who flocked here. Also, learn about St Andrew’s University's foundations lies in the religious community and hear stories of the martyrs in the lead up to the Reformation.
St. Andrews welcome many modern day pilgrims, who come to visit the hole of golf. Our guides can also guide you around the golf complex, as well as recommending the best places to refuel after a hard days golfing.
Did You Know...?
Lammas Day (Loaf-mass day) is a festival celebrating the wheat harvest. Christians would bring a loaf made from the new crop to church. Ancient and neo-pagans alike, also celebrated Lammas as Lugnasadh which also celebrates the first harvest.