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Thursday, 3 April 2014

A-Z Challenge - C of "My Scottish Borders"

Welcome to a Look Around 
"My Scottish Borders"

is for

Horse Statue, Hawick
Photograph by Lesley Fraser

Until recently I lived in the town of Hawick where the focal point of the local calendar is 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. 

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


No, Carter Bar is not a place for a drink - it is so  called after the old word for "gate or "pass,  used by the carters and drovers who crossed the Cheviot Hills at this high point of the Border between England and Scotland - high in British terms, that is,  as only 1370 feet.  Now marked by this impressive massive stone.

Nearby is the place of  the Raid of Redeswire in 1575 - the last encounter in the Borders between the English and Scots. 

 An atmospheric shot with showers looming - 
 Looking north east from Carter Bar over the Cheviot Hills.

Some more fascinating facts on the Scottish Borders: 
  • JIM CLARK (1936-1968) World champion racing driver grew up  at Chirnside, Berwickshire.  He had seven Grand Prix wins in 1963 and was the first non-American in sixty years to win the Indianopolis 500.  Hee was killed at Hockenheim, Germany in the European Formula 2 Championship Race.  The Jim Clark Museum in Duns shows a unique collection of his trophies, photographs,  model cars and other memorabilia,
  • William CHAMBERS (1800-1888), born in Peebles,  founded with his brother the famous Chambers publishing house.  In his home town he  endowed a library, museum and art gallery, gifted to the people of Peebles.  He served as Lord Provost of Edinburgh 1865-69.  In the capital he is remembered by a statue on the appropriately named Chambers Street.  
  • PLACE NAMES THAT APPEAL - Crumelknowes, Catslackburn, Cappercleuch, and Carterhaugh in the Scottish Borders are all the names that  roll off the tongue - try saying them!  (ch and gh are pronounced as ch in "loch")  

  • Follow the next stage of this A-Z Journey 
    through the Scottish Borders

    D is for
    Dryburgh Abbey, Duns Scotus
    and a Douglas Tragedy

The Scottish Borders 
The old counties of Berwickshire, Peeblesshire, Roxburghshire & Selkirkshire 


  1. The Common Ridings sound like an interesting tradition to get to see enacted.

    AJ's AtoZ wHooligan
    Tales of a Pee Dee Mama

  2. I did not know about either of your topics. Thank you for the education. I found both the Carter Bar and the Common rides interesting. :)


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