We are fortunate that the medieval spirit is alive and well in Scotland; whether it be through experiencing ancient history at the foreboding castles that dot the landscape or even taking part in a medieval fair. Or I should say ‘fayre’ because, for the past two years, we have been fortunate to attend the Traquair Medieval Fayre on the grounds of Traquair House situated in the Scottish Borders’ town of Innerleithen, Scotland.
Attending a medieval fayre is quite the experience and it’ll be hard to do justice in this article, but I’ll do my best. I will be sharing photos from this year's and last year’s events as this is our first chance to write about both. I've also included photos and stories from last year of our beloved Golden Retriever angel, Stirling, as part of our commitment and promise to keep his memory alive with this blog.
We previously attended a similar event, ScottFest, at Abbotsford in 2021 that involved medieval activities, including one of our favourite events- jousting! Therefore, last year we were thrilled when we saw that the same talented group of riders- Les Amis D’Onno- were going to be at the Traquair Fayre. However, you can find so much more in addition to the jousting as it is a two-day event packed with exciting activities for people of all ages. So, let’s dive right into it and share our wonderful experiences at the Fayre for the past two years.
Every year at the end of May, the Traquair House puts on the Medieval Fayre. Now, this post is just part one of a two-part series. For this post, we will be covering the Medieval Fayre which is held on the grounds of Traquair House. Part two will cover the Traquair House itself which is Scotland’s oldest inhabited house.
As we walked through the gates and entered the walled garden on the grounds of Traquair House, I immediately felt as though I had been transported back in time. Everywhere you looked, it was if folks from the medieval times had magically appeared and set up camp. Dressed in period-appropriate outfits, the atmosphere was buzzing with noise and excitement. It was clear that these dedicated enthusiasts had spent a great deal of time preparing for this event based on their carefully crafted costumes with era-specific fabrics and accessories.
But it wasn't just about the outfits; they embodied the spirit of the era. Visitors were encouraged to join dancing to the lively tunes played by the medieval musicians. A jester and Gaia the Witch performed for the children. A variety of fascinating demonstrations took place, including medieval forging, stone carving, and willow working. Everyone was enjoying themselves and it was clear that there was a sense of camaraderie that only comes from shared a passion for the Medieval realm.
At one point, the sound of arrows whizzing through the air caught my attention. The Ettrick Archers had set up an area where visitors could try their hand at traditional longbow archery. However, we decided to just enjoy watching others participate as the crowds queuing were quite large.
As the day wore on, the delicious smell of grilled pork wafted through the air and our grumbling stomachs told us we needed to take a break. We sat in the shade and happily enjoyed the lively atmosphere as we ate our pork belly rolls with apple sauce. Although perhaps not everyone in our group was happy because Stirling and Sawyer seemed a bit put out that they weren’t able to enjoy the pork belly as well (don’t worry, they were rewarded with their own special dog treats).
After a satisfying lunch and rest, we eventually made our way out of the Walled Garden and out onto the Avenue and Lawn. This was where we saw (and heard!) demonstrations of canon firing, falconry displays, and duelling knights. At the far end of the Lawn and Avenue, Traquair House stood out in all its glory bathed in the brilliant sunlight.
The highlight of our day was watching the jousting spectacular on the Avenue. I can comfortably guess that it was probably the highlight of most of the attendees’ day. As many of you know, jousting was a popular medieval sport that involved two knights riding towards each other on horseback, armed with lances. The goal was to knock the other knight off their horse. Crowds gathered to watch these tournaments, cheering on their favourite knights and marveling at the skill and bravery required to compete. Jousting may have been a brutal sport, but it was also a thrilling spectacle that captured the imagination of the medieval world. And it also captured the imagination of everyone at Traquair Fayre!
We watched as knights took turns riding towards each other with thundering hooves, their lances aimed at each other's shields, and their armour taking the brunt of the ‘brutal’ blows. Everyone in Les Amis D’Onno troop are incredibly gifted stunt people, and it is amazing how they are able to make it look so real.
Sawyer took it all in stride (pun intended) as it was his second time watching a jousting tournament (having attended ScottFest). Stirling, however, didn’t seem to know quite what to make of the horses galloping about- perhaps he thought they were giant dogs.😂 Nevertheless, he watched attentively as the crowd cheered on their favourite knights.
Here are a some more pictures from the Fayre to scroll through (click on the black arrow):
Well, that is going to do it for this post, and we hope you have enjoyed learning a bit about the Traquair Medieval Fayre. If you are in Innerleithen, Scotland at the end of May we highly recommend you check to see if the Fayre is in town. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves as it was a way to escape the stresses of modern life and immerse ourselves in the spirit of a simpler, more romantic time. The sights, sounds, and smells brought history to life in a way that textbooks never could. We can’t wait to attend the Fayre again next year and experience more of the magic that it has to offer.
Join us next week for our second instalment in the series when we tell you all about our experience visiting Traquair House- Scotland’s oldest inhabited house. If you haven’t done so already, be sure to subscribe to our blog so that you get our articles ‘hot off the presses’.
Until next time- Explore & Discover!