The browser you are using is out of date and is no longer supported. To view and use this site correctly, please update your browser to the latest version.

We're changing

We have created a new public body, Historic Environment Scotland. While we work on shaping our future we can reassure you that all services and products will continue as normal. Please follow our progress and find out more about our new organisation.

Medieval Referee Wants Audience Help in Making Grand Tournament a Clean Fight

20 May 2009

Keeping teams in order on a football field is tough enough, but being referee for 80 warriors in a Medieval tournament is a whole new ball game.

That’s the challenge for Denis Reid who will take the role of Carrick Herald Pursuivant, during Party at the Palace 1503 on 23 and 24 May.

The two-day pageant and grand tournament takes place at Linlithgow Palace and recalls the celebrations for the wedding of James IV to Margaret Tudor and the signing of the Treaty of Perpetual Peace with England.

It has been organised by Historic Scotland as a colourful contribution to the Year of Homecoming.

In Medieval times the Herald Pursuivant would act on behalf of the king at royal tournaments, making sure that warriors with swords, spears and battle axes stuck to the rules.

He would also award the points for how well they fought.

Denis, from Girvan, South Ayrshire, who runs Black Raven Living History, said: “For much of the time I’ll be judging contests between small numbers of fighters and making sure there’s no foul play.

“So striking your opponent with a broadsword is fine, but kicking him if he falls over is right out of order.”

The original Herald Pursuivant would have been a seasoned soldier who knew all the tricks of the trade.

His word was law in the arena and a fight, no matter how intense, would immediately stop if he raised his baton.

Anyone caught cheating could risk the equivalent of a red card and be sent off.

Denis, however, reckons he will have his work cut out for him at the climax of the each day’s contest when 80 armed men, representing four rival clans, battle it out in the arena.

“I expect they’ll try to get up to all sorts of tricks behind my back, but unlike a football ref I haven’t got linesmen to help out.

“I’ll be hoping that the crowd will assist and shout out if there’s anything going on when I’m looking the other way.”

Party at the Palace 1503 features more than 120 costumed performers and will have four tented Medieval encampments in the palace grounds where visitors can find out all about early 16th-century life.

Inside the palace there will be music, dance, a jester, poet, storyteller, alchemist, cooks and falconers.

Nick Finnigan, Historic Scotland events and filming manager, said: “Denis has been in the business for some 40 years and is a skilled swordsman, and not bad with a battle axe either.

“He’ll be great as the Herald Pursuivant, which is an important role as he was the king’s personal representative.

“Party at the Palace 1503 is set to be one of the best family days out of the year and we have costumed performers coming from all over Scotland and the UK to take part.

“There will be lots for visitors to see and do throughout the day, and hopefully some of them will help Denis make sure the tournament fighters keep it clean.”

The four clans represented in the clash will be the Lindsays, Douglases, Hamiltons and Campbells.

To find out more about the teams and how to vote for which of them should be the People’s Champions visit the website at  

For further information

Rebecca Hamilton
Marketing and Media Manager
Marketing and Media
0131 668 8685 / 07788 923871

Denis Reid
07776 286778