This year I had a pleasure of experiencing a picturesque Quid Nychburris ( Good Neighbours) Festival for the first time. It’s the main pageant of the year celebrating Dumfries’ status of a Royal Burgh granted to its community by King Robert III in 1186. Quid Nychburris bristles with distinctive traditional touches and charming quirks, such as the Riding of the Marches, horse races, the Charter Ceremony and the crowning of the Queen of the South.
The day started early when the cavalcade of some 250 horsemen including Cornet and Cornet’s Lass met Pursuivant to Ride the burgh boundaries to ensure they were intact and Stob and Nog (i.e. mark the boundary with posts and flags). Together with other Kingholm Quay dwellers John and I lined the main road around 9.45am to admire Kingholm Gallop sequence of the Ride as the procession of hundreds of riders of all ages and sex briskly moved past us.
By midday we joined the crowds of proud Doonhammers who cheered the arrival of the Queen of the South, her attendants and honoured guests, and waited for the Ride’s return to the Midsteeple. Despite seeing the proceedings many times before people were on the lookout for particular riders and festival principals and thus were eager to wave, photograph and greet their favourites. It was amazing to watch how expertly the long cavalcade was divided into smaller groups with a whip sign as the horsemen went up a very narrow Bank Street across the Plainstanes square.
We were then treated to a pomp of the Charter Ceremony replete with traditional exchanges, such as the Ride’s report to the Provost, his address to the citizens of Dumfries, the demonstration of the Royal Burgh’s seal and flag, the Clerk’s proclaiming the ancient Charter, and, of course, the crowning of Emma Weir, 2014 Queen of the South.
The ceremony was followed by the afternoon entertainment organised by Quid Nychburris Association and the council. Kids enjoyed some fun rides, including the mind-spinnining centrifuge. In addition, as I wrote last week, in the course of the afternoon anyone could sign, seal and stamp their own copy of 2014 Dumfries charter at the Stove’s stall and add water to reveal a secret message on the blue banners.
We did not have enough stamina to endure the heat till the Big Parade at 5pm. I promise we’ll definitely record it for Dumfries Diaries Project next year.