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Trading Journeys: Part Two

If boats aren’t your thing, and you like a more measured pace, keep your eyes open for Alice Francis is travelling with her horse who are making a three day trip to Wigtown from Auchencairn.

As they travel Alice will be creating a standard that will form the head of the Wigtown Trading Journey’s procession that will take place on Saturday afternoon. She will also be recounting the story of Billy Marshall, who supposedly had lived 120 years in southern Scotland and always claimed to be the “King of the Gypsies”. He was ,also, referred to as the “Caird of Barullion”. Caird (a skilled gypsy) referring to ceardon (a skilled worker who practices some trade or handicraft). Barullion is the name of a range of hills in the county of Wigtonshire in the council area of Dummfries-Galloway, in southern Scotland. Another so-called title of his was “King of the Randies”. The word Randies in this context may be referring to a type of macho, virile, man that despised all rule and authority.

Billy Marshall is buried in Kirkcudbright, and his grave features the curious crossed spoons on the reverse.

The crossed spoons possibly may represent a wish for his people that they may never go hungry, for the coins at his grave site may have been left there with a goodluck wish, but originally they were left there for a poor travelling gypsy to be able to buy another meal. The spoons probably represent horn spoons, which have been popular in Europe and Scandinavia as far back as medieval times, being, also popular with the Vikings. Horn spoon making has been a tradition among gypsies since the 1600’s, and possibly had been a labor of love for Billy Marshall.

If you find that you have a hidden talent for spoon playing, bring that new talent along to Wigtown on Saturday, it’s bound to come in useful!

For more details on the stove network’s Trading Journeys, head across to our project page here

Trading Journeys has been created as part of the Wigtown Book Festival

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