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ScottFest: A Celebration of Sir Walter Scott’s 250th Birthday Anniversary

How do you commemorate the 250th anniversary of the birth of a Scottish legend? Well, you throw a huge two-day celebration of course! The renowned Scottish writer, Walter Scott, was born on the 15th of August 1771 in Edinburgh. He is a frequent visitor on our blog including a three-part series of his life. After finishing this article, be sure to read more about his Edinburgh monument, Abbotsford (his home), and his burial place at Dryburgh Abbey. For now, we head to Abbotsford to recount our latest adventure. In true Walter Scott fashion, it’s a tale filled with knights on horseback, archery, music, and more!

Sir Walter Scott is known for creating the historical novel, and one of his most well-known is Ivanhoe. Set in medieval Norman England, the story’s protagonist is the Saxon, Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe. One storyline in the novel involves a jousting tournament where Ivanhoe competes in disguise. This tournament was portrayed at ScottFest by the magnificent Les Amis Stunt Team.

'Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe'

Hailing from the Scottish Borders, this amazing stunt team (including their horses) has done work in such films as Mary Queen of Scots and Outlaw King. They are the only professional jousting group in Scotland, and we are so fortunate to have them.

For us, the jousting event was the highlight of the weekend, and we would love to get the opportunity to see them whenever they perform again in Scotland. Here are some more pictures of the show:

After the jousting event, we enjoyed a talk by some of the Les Amis professionals at the Interactive Stables tent where they discussed historical replicas of horse saddles and tack through the centuries. I was fortunate to grow up riding horses and it was very interesting to learn and see how the saddle evolved over the centuries. It was also fun to meet their famous fortune-telling goat, Billy. He has also appeared in movies.

I can’t quite imagine using this Roman saddle as it has no stirrups.

There were also fascinating living history displays in the Morris Garden that included lovely music, craft stalls, as well as the grittier side with demonstrations of battle wear, weapons, and medicine.

Next to the jousting field were archery demonstrations. Unfortunately, we did not spot Robin Hood.

Falconry was an important part of medieval Europe. Therefore, the South Court featured an interesting display of falcons and owls as well as discussion and handling sessions.

Of course, food is always a fun part of outdoor festivals, and we were thrilled to see our old friends, the Haggis Box, had a trailer set up. As always, their legendary haggis, neeps, and tatties with the mustard whisky sauce was superb (as a side note and traveller tip- if you visit Edinburgh, they are setup at the café inside the Scottish Storytelling Centre which is the building adjoining the John Knox House). For dessert, we got some freshly made donuts at the Mr Donut stand and they were quite delicious. In fact, Sami commented that the melding flavours of butter, sugar, and fried dough brought him back to his childhood in Finland when his mother would make fresh donuts.

Next to the food court was the stage which showcased music and dance performances over the weekend. I particularly enjoyed the piping of the Scottish Borders musician, Matt Seattle.

Overall, we are still buzzing with excitement with from the spectacular ScottFest weekend celebration! While we know this was a special event to celebrate Sir Walter Scott’s 250th birthday, we hope that the Abbotsford Trust will make this an annual event because we would return next year. And, if the organisers happen to read this- please be sure to bring back the Les Amis Stunt Team because they know how to put on a show! Here is a brief video of some highlights:

Until next time- Explore & Discover!


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