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Tuesday, 9 April 2013

A-Z Challenge: H is for - Hawick & Hambleton

Join me on this journey  into  A SENSE OF PLACE where I will be:
  • Featuring places connected with my own family history
  • Highlighting places with happy memories
  • Shining the spotlight on place names that appeal.
  • Linking my interests in history, travel and photography.


 HAWICK in the Scottish Borders was my home for all my married life, until we moved last year.  Knitwear (Pringle, Lyle & Scott, Peter Scott) , rugby and pride in its heritage typify this,   the largest town in the Scottish Borders, (population 14,800), some 50 miles from Edinburgh and 44 miles north of Carlisle. 
Hawick among the hills

One of my favourite  local songs tells how:

"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.

Horse Statue, Hawick
Photograph by Lesley Fraser
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. nown 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.

The Cornet carrying "The Banner Blue" leads Hawick Common Riding
Photograph by Lesley Fraser, www.ilfimaging.co.uk

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.
With thanks to Lesley Fraser for allowing me to feature her photographs of the Horse Statue and the Hawick Cornet - http://www.ilfimaging.co.uk/
HAMBLETON - my great grandmother Maria Rawcliffe (below)   was one of eight daughters born in the small village of Hambleton, near Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire.  In a local history publication, I came across this witty little verse referring to the different villages in the  area. I  like to think that Maria  was a "bonnie lass"!  

Pilling for paters (potatoes)
Presall for pluck
Hambleton for bonnie lasses
Stalmine for muck!

Place Names that Appeal - two more place names from the Scottish Borders - Hangingshaw and Howcleuchshiel, both near Hawick.  

"Shaw" means" woodland;  "Cleuch"  means ravine or gorge;  "Shiel"  means shelter. 

Did a hanging take place in the woodland at Hangingshaw?   
                        Join me in the next part of my journey with the letter I
Copyright © 2013 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved



  1. A hanging was the first thing that came to mind when I read the name Hangingshaw. And was the victims name Shaw?

  2. The Common Riding sounds like a wonderful tradition that I'd like to witness one day. Your great-grandmother was lovely. Could she actually have been wearing lipstick (shocking!) or was she simply blessed with strong coloring?


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