Newburgh Games - History

Newburgh was created a burgh of barony by Alexander III under the patronage of the Abbey of Lindores, as a market town to serve the surrounding area. A charter of 1457 gave it additional privileges. It was confirmed as a royal burgh in 1631.

Poverty in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was improved with the weaving of linen and then the commercial fishing for salmon using the traditional “coble” boat. The nineteenth and twentieth centuries saw the jute then linoleum industries providing employment until the linoleum factory closed in the 1970’s.

The burgh had the right to hold a weekly market, two annual fairs, to celebrate Auld Handsel Monday (first Monday of the new year) and a Riding of the marches once every three years. One of the fairs was called the Race Market and was held on the third Friday in June. The other was called the Haggis Market, held on St. Katherine’s Day, the 25th of November, and was last held in 1869.

The riding of the marches continues to take place every three years to mark the burgh boundary, the continued access to the common lands and to maintain the right of way to the Tay granted to the town in the eighteenth century. The race market has evolved into the Highland Games and the coble boat race, with the latter replacing the horse racing of the original event.

Over the years the games have been held in different locations around the town. Most recently, until 2006, a field in Mugdrum Estate was made available for the event. In 2008 the games move to a new venue to be known as Robbie's Park. This is a large field opposite Scotland Terrace. The games committee are grateful to Abbey Farm for making this available. The coble boat race takes place on banks of the Tay on the site once used as the drying green for the salmon nets.