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Black Isle village celebrates its ancient burgh fair

St Boniface Fair at Fortrose
St Boniface Fair at Fortrose

A Black Isle town took a dive back through the centuries to recreate its traditional burgh fair.

St Boniface Fair in Fortrose attracted hundreds of locals and visitors to Cathedral Square for an afternoon browsing the local produce stalls and enjoying the various entertainments on offer.

The medieval fair was revived in the 1960s by Peter MacDonell, who set the date for the second Thursday in August, and designed some 20 heavy wooden stalls with brightly coloured canopies for the market.

Iain Brown, treasurer of the community council, walks ahead of the pipe band. Picture: Andrew Smith

The stalls are set out in Cathedral Square, packed with produce and crafts mainly from the Black Isle.

This year, the opening parade was led through the High Street by the Dingwall pipe band, followed by stall holders in costume.

Dancers from Melanie McKay’s school of dancing entertained the crowd, while Groam House staff were on hand with medieval face-painting.

Afternoon tea was served in the Square, and local artists were showcased in an exhibition in St Peter and St Boniface church.

Members of Fortrose and Rosemarkie community council took on roles from when Fortrose was a royal burgh, with treasurer Ian Brown calling the crowd to order as town-crier, and chairman Tom Heath stepping up as town clerk to give the proclamation.

St Boniface Fair. Picture: Andrew Smith

Mr Heath sported the recently re-discovered chain of office of the provost of Fortrose.

The chain was made in 1955 by London silversmiths Pagett & Braham Ltd to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the formation of the Royal Burgh of Fortrose, and bears an enamel version of the town crest.

It had gone missing for decades while in bank storage, and was eventually unearthed in a safe deposit box by Mr Brown last year.

He said: “We are hoping to find somewhere like Groam House where it can be stored securely and also be on display to the public.

“It had been forgotten about for half a century, but now we have decided it can be worn by the chairman of the community council while on public duties.”

Money raised at the fair will be distributed among four local charities.

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