Riding of the Marches

There is always something happening in Edinburgh and this last weekend it was time for the Riding of the Marches once again. This was my second time enjoying the sight of the horses being ridden up the Royal Mile and as a life long lover of horses it's something I really enjoy being able to watch.

The Riding of the Marches has its roots in the Common Ridings of Scotland. Common riding is an event celebrated in many Scottish border towns as well as other locations, for example I learnt earlier this year that there is a similar event in Orkney! It's a tradition that dates back to the 13th and 14th centuries during the ongoing border wars both with England and with other clans. In these lawless times it became common practice for the local Lord to appoint a townsperson to ride the clan boundaries or 'marches' to protect their common lands and prevent encroachment and attack from others. Well after this riding was no longer necessary they continued to do it in commemoration of the history and tradition surrounding it.

Edinburgh's Riding of the Marches is a re-enactment of the return of the Captain of the Trained Band, who was responsible for keeping order in the city, to Edinburgh with news of defeat at the Battle of Flodden in 1513. The 26 mile ride begins in Edinburgh's surrounding countryside culminating with the Captain and Lass leading all the horses taking part up the Royal Mile towards the Mercat Cross. The earliest reference to the riding of the marches in Edinburgh was recorded as taking place on the 31 October 1579, rides were then held on a regular basis until 1718. After that no further ridings were carried out until a one off one in 1946, held to celebrate peace and the end of the war. It was however another 62 years before the ridings were again resurrected and it is now, once again, an annual event in the city.

As a spectacle to go and watch it's well worth it and best of all it's free too. There are various spots you can see the riding, not just the Royal Mile, but that's the spot to see the finale. Check out their website next year for great tips and details of good vantage points on route if you fancy seeing an earlier stage of the day. Wherever you decide to head though make sure you go prepared for the weather and if you're headed to the more rural sections go dressed sensibly. Last year I recall was a pleasantly mild day but this year there were a few showers and it wasn't quite as warm. Also go early, particularly if you're heading to the Royal Mile so you get a good vantage spot as it gets busy. Again check out the website for approximate timings to plan your day. You don't need to worry about having nothing to do whilst waiting for the main event as both years I've been there have been bands entertaining the crowds and a team of stunt riders doing some pretty impressive stuff on horseback with nothing between them and the cobbled road below. If you're in Edinburgh (or find out there is some common riding happening near where you are) make sure you go and check it out!


Popular Posts