Jedburgh Ba' Game


Jedburgh Market Place`
Jedburgh Market Place

The ba' game is essentially a form of street football, some of the action taking place in the streets around the market place shown in the picture above. Today the game is played at Candlemas and Easter E'en by two opposing teams. The ancient ball game known as 'Jethart Hand-ba', popular throughout medieval Scotland, supposedly derives from the Jedburgh men playing with the heads of English soldiers. The traditional ball game, which has been played in the Border town for 250 years, pits the Uppies (residents of the higher part of Jedburgh) against the Doonies (residents from the bottom half of the town). The game uses a leather ball stuffed with straw and decorated with ribbons. The ball is thrown, rugby-style, into a group of men who then proceed to move with it through the streets. It can move up alleyways, into yards and up street and can be concealed or thrown for someone to catch and run with. The aim of the game, which has had its current form since the 1700s, is to "hail" the ball to the respective side of the town. The boys play for a couple of hours before the men take over and it is usual for ‘hundreds’ to participate.

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