Hawick Common Riding

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Common Ridings, Scottish Borders
Common Ridings, Scottish Borders

Hawick is the first of the Border Common-Ridings or festivals commemorating the custom of riding the boundaries of each parish or ‘march’. It also commemorates the townsmen’s capture of an English Flag in the early 16th century. The main Riding part of the festivities takes place over a Friday and Saturday in June. The lead figure is an elected ‘Cornet’, a young local man who carries out several ‘ride-outs’ in the area over the weeks preceding the main ‘common riding’ event with his supporters (see photograph above from the Roberton ride-out). As well as a Cornet, there is a different ‘Cornet’s Lass’ each year.

Numerous rituals and events take place throughout the week, many including singing (such as ‘Teribus’ from the war-cry of the townsmen circa the Battle of Flodden Field) music, eating and drinking: the Cornet is ‘Kirked’ (church blessing) the Sunday before the main event; there are horse races; on the Thursday of the week’s festivities the flag-bearing Cornet visits local schools giving children the rest of the week off to take part in the celebrations; the main event is a procession of up to 300 riders around the town and a last ride out when the Cornet cuts a ceremonial sod to take back to the town as evidence that ‘the marches have been duly ridden, without interruption or molestation of any kind’. [Ref: http://www.hawickcommonriding.com/]

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