Biggest ever crowd witness Broch’s Pictish traditions

Clavie Crew at work – © Joan Megson

All roads led to Burghead on Saturday as an estimated crowd of over 4000 flocked to the Moray town to take part in Burning the Clavie at Doorie Hill.

Perfect blustery conditions greeted the flaming tar-filled herring barrel as it was carried through the streets of the Broch under the direction of Clavie King Dan Ralph.

The traditional Pictish tradition of seeing in the new year is thought to date from around 400AD when Burghead was the capital of the Pictish kingdom.

Several homes in the town accepted burning staves from the Clavie which is traditional thought to bring good luck throughout the year – for many visitors, however, it was the fantastic sight on Doorie Hill that was the main attraction.

Barry Phillips travelled from Peterhead for the evening, joining friends and family from throughout the north east who have made it something of a family tradition to meet up in Burghead.

He said: “My dad learned about the Clavie when he was in Moray around 30 years ago with the Royal Air Force – he kept coming back until he died and we have kept up the tradition.

“The procession is fantastic enough but the hospitality of the people in Burghead has always been second to none and that has made this the place to be at this time of the year.”

Dan Ralph said that the ‘Clavie Crew’ continued as far as possible to maintain traditional methods for the procession: “More and more people come along to see it every year and that is great – but we don’t ever want to lose the original feeling.”

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