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TITLE
Battle of the Cheeses, Inverness
EXTERNAL ID
GB1796_SINCLAIR_MARYMASFAIR
PLACENAME
Inverness
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
INVERNESS: Inverness and Bona
PERIOD
1980s; 1990s
CREATOR
unknown
SOURCE
Inverness Museum and Art Gallery
ASSET ID
2110
KEYWORDS
festivals
fairs
competitions
audio

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The Marymas Fair in Inverness was a traditional festival which was held every year on the feast day of St. Mary (August 15th) from 1590 until 1850. It was revived again in 1986. In this audio extract from that year, competitors taking part in the 'Battle of the Cheeses' talk about their experiences. (The photograph was taken during the Marymas Fair of 2006.)

Basically, what we've got to do is get that rubber dinghy across that other side of the river and back, twice, in the process picking up a cheese (which is actually a rubber ring), and a fair maiden from the other end, and get her back, dry. Hopefully.

Interviewer: Why are you doing this? What's the history about it?

Well, as far as I can gather, away back in sixteen hundred and something, they used to have fairs in the River Ness, here, and a gentleman knocked a cheese into the river. And in the ensuing riot, two people were killed, before the army restored order. That's one story; the other is that there was a full-scale fight between the country people and town people. Again, a couple of people were killed. So this is just to commemorate that.

Interviewer: You're not dressed in costume of the period?

I want to live! [Laughter]. It'd be too heavy for that river, anyway, you know? It'd too heavy on you. You'd just sink.

Interviewer: Now when are you going to - ?

Right now, in fact. I'm just getting my lifejacket on and I'm away.

Interviewer: Good. Good good. Let's hope you get on well.

OK! Right, thanks.

Announcer: Just a quick word before you go. The presentation will not happen until all three teams are back. Stand by! [Gun fire and applause].

Interviewer: Well, congratulations! Inverness Round Table won.

Yes, indeed.

Interviewer: Who's the - is it the, is it the crew, the captain of the boat or - ?

I'm the captain, yes. I have the distinction of being the captain, yes.

Interviewer: How did everything go?

Very exhausting but we seemed to get the knack, just by one person pulling and keeping the boat pointing upstream we seemed to get on all right.

Interviewer: I'd the difficulty finding out who was winning or losing.

That's right. There's so many boats in the water. Yes, I know.

Interviewer: What did you actually have to do? Tell me from the beginning what was happening?

First of all you've got a crew of six. You do it in a relay, you get three in a boat at first. You go across the river, pick up a cheese, which is in the form of a Landrover tyre painted yellow, and you bring that back again. And then the three crew swap over and the other three go across and pick up a maiden and bring her back, and then carry her shoulder high and present her to the queen

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Battle of the Cheeses, Inverness

INVERNESS: Inverness and Bona

1980s; 1990s

festivals; fairs; competitions; audio

Inverness Museum and Art Gallery

Bill Sinclair Audio: Miscellaneous

The Marymas Fair in Inverness was a traditional festival which was held every year on the feast day of St. Mary (August 15th) from 1590 until 1850. It was revived again in 1986. In this audio extract from that year, competitors taking part in the 'Battle of the Cheeses' talk about their experiences. (The photograph was taken during the Marymas Fair of 2006.)<br /> <br /> Basically, what we've got to do is get that rubber dinghy across that other side of the river and back, twice, in the process picking up a cheese (which is actually a rubber ring), and a fair maiden from the other end, and get her back, dry. Hopefully.<br /> <br /> Interviewer: Why are you doing this? What's the history about it?<br /> <br /> Well, as far as I can gather, away back in sixteen hundred and something, they used to have fairs in the River Ness, here, and a gentleman knocked a cheese into the river. And in the ensuing riot, two people were killed, before the army restored order. That's one story; the other is that there was a full-scale fight between the country people and town people. Again, a couple of people were killed. So this is just to commemorate that.<br /> <br /> Interviewer: You're not dressed in costume of the period?<br /> <br /> I want to live! [Laughter]. It'd be too heavy for that river, anyway, you know? It'd too heavy on you. You'd just sink. <br /> <br /> Interviewer: Now when are you going to - ?<br /> <br /> Right now, in fact. I'm just getting my lifejacket on and I'm away.<br /> <br /> Interviewer: Good. Good good. Let's hope you get on well.<br /> <br /> OK! Right, thanks.<br /> <br /> Announcer: Just a quick word before you go. The presentation will not happen until all three teams are back. Stand by! [Gun fire and applause].<br /> <br /> Interviewer: Well, congratulations! Inverness Round Table won. <br /> <br /> Yes, indeed.<br /> <br /> Interviewer: Who's the - is it the, is it the crew, the captain of the boat or - ?<br /> <br /> I'm the captain, yes. I have the distinction of being the captain, yes.<br /> <br /> Interviewer: How did everything go?<br /> <br /> Very exhausting but we seemed to get the knack, just by one person pulling and keeping the boat pointing upstream we seemed to get on all right.<br /> <br /> Interviewer: I'd the difficulty finding out who was winning or losing.<br /> <br /> That's right. There's so many boats in the water. Yes, I know.<br /> <br /> Interviewer: What did you actually have to do? Tell me from the beginning what was happening?<br /> <br /> First of all you've got a crew of six. You do it in a relay, you get three in a boat at first. You go across the river, pick up a cheese, which is in the form of a Landrover tyre painted yellow, and you bring that back again. And then the three crew swap over and the other three go across and pick up a maiden and bring her back, and then carry her shoulder high and present her to the queen