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Arts & culture Event

Sat, 11th Nov 23 - Mon, 18th Mar 24 10:00 - 16:30

Yellow Butterflies : The colourful character, costume and culture of Scotland's Fishwives

Anstruther & Cellardyke


The Scottish Fisheries Museum
St Ayles, Harbourhead
Anstruther & Cellardyke
East Neuk of Fife
KY10 3AB

Contact Info

01333 310628 Email



Although fishing is commonly thought of as being dominated by men, women contributed directly to the industry through their work in preparing the gear, processing the catch, and then selling the fish.  It was this latter activity that brought the fisherwomen into closest contact with wider society, and in this role that they were known as “Fishwives”. While women working in the herring industry were generally employed, fishwives worked for themselves, selling the fish caught by their family members or bought directly from the fishermen.  They would work all year round, their wares varying with the seasons from shellfish to white fish to oily fish, ungutted or filleted, fresh, salted or smoked. Being independent and distinctive saleswomen, fishwives gathered a reputation – both positive and negative – in the eyes of the public.  They were admired for their colourful clothing, strength of character and healthy looks, while often being scorned for their harsh tongues and loud voices: “to scold like a fishwife” was a well-used phrase.  This exhibition examines the roles of the fishwife in the Scottish fishing industry, exploring how these women and their labour was regarded, represented, censured and celebrated, both by others and by the women themselves.

The Scottish Fisheries Museum
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