Common Riding is an annual event celebrated in Scottish Border towns and in some other places, to commemorate the times of the past when local men risked their lives in order to protect their town and people. Common Riding, a tradition dating from the 1700s, happens on the last Friday of July in Langholm. The tradition is set from a time when Langholm received the rights to common lands. According to Mysterious Britain and Ireland, “These lands were marked out by ditches, cairns, and beacons, which originally fell to the responsibility of one man. The duty eventually passed to a local landlord who rode out on horseback with other townsfolk, this was the start of the Common Riding, and from then until the present time a Cornet has been elected from Langholm to be the master of the riding. The ceremony eventually became a fair. (1) The horsemen hold aloft several different symbols as they ride through town. (2) A spade, used for cutting pits, and digging turf that marked part of the common boundary. (3) A salted herring nailed to a bannock on a wooden plaque. (3) A Scottish thistle, the symbol of Scotland. (4) A floral crown, the meaning of which is obscure.”
Calendar Customs adds, “The Common Riding at Langholm takes place on the last Friday in July. Common Ridings are a boundary marking custom on horseback. They are mainly held at locations across the Scottish Borders, perhaps because this area suffered from centuries of raiding and reiving between local families and the English, and the locals needed to protect their lands from encroachment. Long after this was necessary, the Ridings survived to become major festivals and a great day out! As with all the common riding customs, expect lots of equestrians and flag waving and , uniquely to Langholm, the four emblems of the festival which are carried in the procession. They are a barley bannock & a salted herring on a pole, a spade, a giant thistle and a crown. Watch out for the spectacular gallop up Kirk Wynd and the Fair Crying, when the proclamation is read by a man standing on the back of a horse! The equestrians ford the river to get to Castleholm, where racing follows; dancing and other sporting events take place around town throughout the day.”
In 2015 it will take place on Friday July 31st.
Click here for more info: http://www.langholm-online.co.uk/pages/content.asp?PageID=122
and for a detailed schedule click here : http://www.atasteofnorthumberland.co.uk/langholm-common-riding-timetable-1.739882?referrerPath=2.3214