Friday, January 16, 2015

Dunbeath Market. Article III, 21/08/1879 - Rambling Recollections of Berriedale, Badbea, and Neighbourhood - Part A

Article III written by Alexander Gunn aka A Native of Badbea, was printed in the Northern Ensign on 21 August, 1879, Part A. The illustrations I have used were not published with the orginal article.

"I am not sure that my rambling recollections of Badbea will be the means of attracting any visitors or tourists to the place, unless they are attracted to it with a view of "seeing the nakedness of the land" - yet to a native, and I speak for myself in particular - it is endeared by a thousand fond associations which can never be effaced. Here I spent my childhood, and as previously stated, remained till I reached the years of manhood. The tender care and watchful upbringing of godly parents are things not easily forgotten. The innocent enjoyments and simple habits of our younger days rise up before us, after years have changed the colour of our hair, and sprinkled our locks with a silvery tinge, and when surrounded with associations and engaged in employments which present a very strong and striking contrast with those of our youthful days.
But it may be asked, what enjoyment could be had in such a place and under such circumstances as have been described? Well, we must admit that there were not many. There was real and true friendship between us all, young and old; and when the long dreary winter casts its mantle over us, we had cheery firesides around about which we assembled, and listened to and told tales of fairies, ghosts, and witches, in all of which we were firm believers.

Unknown Fiddler Blair Athol 
Collection 1858 
Am Baile Facebook

Not infrequently, also, was the long winter night whiled away listening to the strains of Jamie Sutherland's violin, and sometimes varying the enjoyment by trying to dance to music, which differed as much from the laws of real music as our movements on the floor did from the laws of dancing.

Threshing using flails. McIan
We had one day in the year to which we looked forward with an unusual amount of interest, and expectation, and that was the day of the Dunbeath Market - the November or Little Market, as it was called. There was a great amount of preparation on the previous evening, when our wares for sale at the market were put in order. These consisted of different kinds. "Supplies and flails," by which most Caithness farmers threshed their corn crops in those days, formed a considerable part of our merchandise; but there were other things, such as bread baskets, potato baskets, and rashes, to supply the household lamp, during the winter nights. After a fruitless attempt to enjoy the night's sleep we were up, and ready for the road by four o'clock in the morning, and generally arrived at the market stance, when we would be the only occupants. As soon as the people gathered, we did our best to dispose of our goods, after which we held away to "cheap John's" stand, and invested part of our cash in a clasp knife, which had a greater attraction for us than any other thing we saw there."

Old Scotsman selling besoms or heather brooms

Potato Baskets

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