|The Cornet carrying "The Banner Blue" leads Hawick Common Riding|
I live in the Scottish Borders, a region often called "Scotland's Horse Country", where riding is in the blood. In the summer the towns celebrate their history and heritage with the annual common ridings. In Hawick where I lived until recently, 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.
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.' It is a time of community picnics, horse racing and general celebrations.
|Hawick's Cornet with the "Banner Blue". |
Not surprisingly, riding is a popular activity locally and one my daughter was keen to join at any early age.
35 years on, and donkey is still going strong, with my granddaughter eager to get in the saddle.
With thanks to Lesley Fraser for allowing me to feature her two photographs of Hawick Common Riding