Article X written by Alexander Gunn was printed in the Northern Ensign on 17 Feb 1881 – Part A
This picture of a busy Shore Street, Thurso
about 1900 could also show a community
getting ready for market. Source: Thurso museum
The Winter Market at Dunbeath
The winter market at Dunbeath, had a great attraction for us young folks, and few will ever forget their first visit to the “Little Market”. We who lived at a distance had to bestir ourselves at an early hour, so as to be there in time. There was little sleep for us the previous night, and we started several hours earlier than the older folks, and were on the stance about 10 A. M., before anyone else had arrived. The “Little Market” is held on the first Tuesday of November old style, and if the weather is favourable and money plentiful, it lasts for several days, but the first day is the best. The market stance is situated about half a mile to the east of the village of Dunbeath, on a bare barren spot good for nothing else.
Dunbeath. I think the field where the market
was held is in the top of the photo where the
gorse is in yellow flower
The different classes of dealers begin to put in an appearance between 10 and 11 o’clock, and at once fix on a spot to erect their tents. There were whisky tents from various districts of the county for a circuit of 30 miles. Those from along the coast were distinguishable by their covering of brown canvas sails, stretched out on a collection of oars and boathooks. There were drapery establishments from Wick, Lybster, and other parts of the county – some even hailing from the midland counties of England as well as “Cheap Johns” from Birmingham, Sheffield, and other English towns. There was also Moses Jacob, of the ancient and peculiarly chosen race, from the Lawnmarket, or the West Bow of Edinburgh all “giving away their goods for nothing”.
There were also Brotchie and Budge with Brogues from Thurso, and matrons with webs of “scourings,” blankets, and a few gross of home-made stockings from Halkirk, Braemore, and Houstry; others with creels for carrying peats from hills, or fish from the shore, and hand baskets to gather the potatoes with not to speak of the apple and sweetie barrows to be met at every corner, as well as cows, calves, stirks, and Highland ponies.
Alexander Gunn has written about the Dunbeath market before - see blogs Jan 16, 2015 and Aug 30, 2015. He goes into some delightful detail in this article. A 'stirk' is a young bullock. The dates he was at the market must have been about 1825 to 1845 as he was born in Badbea in 1820 and was married and gone by 1849.
|Besoms, potato basket and fish creel|