Common Riding, a Langholm Tradition Celebrated on the Last Friday of July

Riders returning from riding the Selkirk Marches gallop in at The Toll ~ Public Domain ~ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Riding#/ media/File:Thetoll.jpg

Riders returning from riding the Selkirk Marches gallop in at The Toll ~ Public Domain ~ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Riding#/
media/File:Thetoll.jpg

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.”

Border-Reiver-Country-Langholm-Common-Riding | A blog about the history of the Border Reivers from the 13th to the 17th centuries. wwwborderreiverstories-neblessclem.blogspot.com

Border-Reiver-Country-Langholm-Common-Riding | A blog about the history of the Border Reivers from the 13th to the 17th centuries.
wwwborderreiverstories-neblessclem.blogspot.com

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

 

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About reginajeffers

Regina Jeffers is the award-winning author of Austenesque, Regency and contemporary novels.
This entry was posted in British history, Great Britain, real life tales, Scotland and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Common Riding, a Langholm Tradition Celebrated on the Last Friday of July

  1. And the inspiration for Hugh MacDiarmid’s. famous poem A drunk Man Looks at a Thistle: Christopher Murray Grieve wrote under the pen-name Hugh MacDiarmid and his masterpiece in Scots ‘The Drunk Man Looks At The Thistle’ was published in the same month and year as the Scots Independent was launched – November 1926. MacDiarmid was a founder member of The National Party of Scotland in 1928 and an early contributor to the Scots Independent. Although he lived most of his life outwith Langholm, he never forgot his cauf kintra, and returned regularly for the town’s July Common Riding which he immortalised in ‘The Drunk Man’ –

    “Drums in the Walligate, pipes in the air,
    Come and hear the cryin’ o’ the Fair.

    A’ as it used to be, when I was a loon
    On Common-Ridin’ Day in the Muckle Toon.

    The bearer twirls the Bannock-and-Saut-Herrin’,
    The Croon o’ Roses through the lift is farin’.

    The aucht-fit thistle wallops on hie;
    In heather besoms a’ the hills gang by.”

  2. junewilliams7 says:

    A man standing on the back of a horse…. that is amazing. If I were standing on the back of a horse, you would hear me screaming as I fall off! Thank you for this very fascinating bit of history.

  3. What a great fun day out, the loals must have a ball! 😀

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