In Pictures: Bonfire night in Scotland

Bonfire watched by children in Dumbiedykes - Holyrood area Edinburgh, 1956.  Guy Fawkes night.

Bonfire watched by children in Dumbiedykes - Holyrood area Edinburgh, 1956. Guy Fawkes night.

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Since the failed Guy Fawkes’ plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament, people across the country have celebrated Bonfire Night on November 5th. In Scotland, the night is one of community wide celebration and wholesome fun, despite its origins being a lot more sinister.

The night was once a time of rowdy and raucous festivities - described as an evening of “prankish fun”. Before it was rebranded as fireworks night in 1910 by firework manufacturers, bonfire night saw Scots of all ages bring together any kind of material that would burn, and create sizable bonfires.

Bonfire at Calton Hill to celebrate the birth of new Prince - Section of crowd on Calton Hill who found vantage points around Edinburgh

Bonfire at Calton Hill to celebrate the birth of new Prince - Section of crowd on Calton Hill who found vantage points around Edinburgh

Often these would be made in fields or on hill tops, but pictures show they were even created in the middle of streets surrounded by tenement buildings.

In Numbers: Bonfire Night in Scotland

One Scottish tradition was the burning of Guy Fawkes. Effigies of Guy were made across the country, usually consisting of a jacket and trousers stuffed with straw. They would often then be wheeled around towns while the owners shouted “penny for a Guy” with the money raised going towards buying fireworks.

Guy would then be placed on top of the roaring bonfire.

A small bonfire in Scotland

A small bonfire in Scotland

Older traditions have seen people leap across half-consumed bonfires in excuse that it was an old custom. In more heavily safety conscious and policed times, it’s rare to see such a reckless acts taking place.

Fireworks like the Catherine Wheel were extremely popular during festivities. Many Scots would gather for more initmate fireworks displays before the larger scale town displays become common place.

The first firework that was ever let off in Scotland has been traced as far back as 1507 where “fireballs” were used by James VI.

Bonfire at West Pilton in 1973

Bonfire at West Pilton in 1973

Children piling up their bonfire at Silverknowes

Children piling up their bonfire at Silverknowes

Guy Fawkes Night - A Bonfire in the Pleasance, Edinburgh.

Guy Fawkes Night - A Bonfire in the Pleasance, Edinburgh.

Guy Fawkes Night - Children pile up bonfire

Guy Fawkes Night - Children pile up bonfire

Canaan Lodge Children's bonfire and fireworks for Guy Fawkes Day

Canaan Lodge Children's bonfire and fireworks for Guy Fawkes Day

An organised bonfire and firework show for children, staged at Redford Barracks in Edinburgh in November 1968

An organised bonfire and firework show for children, staged at Redford Barracks in Edinburgh in November 1968

An organised bonfire and firework show for children, staged at Redford Barracks in Edinburgh in November 1968

An organised bonfire and firework show for children, staged at Redford Barracks in Edinburgh in November 1968

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