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Tuesday 7 June 2011

Hawick Common Riding - These Places Thursday

The Cornet carrying "The Banner Blue" leads Hawick Common Riding
Photograph by Lesley Fraser, www.ilfimaging.co.uk
Horse Statue, Hawick
Photograph by Lesley Fraser
I live in Hawick in the  Scottish Borders and June is the focal point of the local calendar, with the major event Hawick Common Riding.   It is both a symbolic riding of the town's boundaries, made in the past to safeguard burgh rights and also a commemoration of the callants, young lads of Hawick, who in 1514, raided a body of English troops  and captured their flag - the "banner blue".  This skirmish followed the  the ill-fated Battle of Flodden in 1513,  when  King James IV and much of the "Flower of Scotland" were killed.  The 1514 Monument (right), unveiled in June 1914 and known locally as "The Horse",  commemorates this victory.

All of the main towns in the Borders have a 'common riding' - or something similar,
but each one has its own unique spirit and specific traditions. Typically, a "Cornet"  or other named representative, i.e. Standard Bearer, Braw Lad, Callant, Reiver  etc. is selected from the young men of the town, and becomes an honoured figure. He leads a procession of mounted and foot followers through the town. He proudly carries the town flag,  creating a marvellous spectacle. He then leads his cavalcade of riders out of the town into the hills and around the town's ancient boundaries re-enacting the age old ritual of 'riding the marches.'

Hawick's Cornet with the "Banner Blue".
Photograph by Lesley Fraser

With thanks to Lesley Fraser
for allowing me to feature her
three photographs of the Horse Statue and the Hawick Cornet

It is a time for local pride and passion when exiles return to their home town to renew friendships and join in the celebrations - in ceremonies and processions, picnics and horse-racing, and  in songs, ballads  and music, such as one of my favourites below:

"Where Slitrig dances doon the dell
To join the Teviot Water
There dwells auld Hawick's honest men
and Hawick's bright-eyed daughters."

Hawick  where the River Teviot (here) meets the smaller Slitrig River ,
as depicted in the town song above.

Hawick among the hills
Those Places Thursday  is a daily prompt from http://www.geneabloggers.com/,
used by many bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.

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