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Common Riding Festivals

Scottish border towns celebrate their turbulent history


  • What: Hundreds of riders, ride out at dawn following a night of partying and Scottish reeling (a kind of dancing) by torchlight
  • Where and When: In the Scottish border towns of
    • Hawick, June 8 and 9
    • Selkirk, June 15
  • Admission: free for all
  • Website
The filmBraveheart may have presented a fictionized account of the early history of Scotland, but the the towns of the Scottish borders experienced, first hand, the turbulent relationship with the sassenachs of England, to the middle of the 18th century.

The Common Riding Festivals of Hawick and Selkirk commemorate this history by recalling the ancient practice of riding a town's borders at dawn to give early warning of raids from the south. In Hawick, they recall a skirmish, in 1514, at a place called Hornshole, when a group of young Hawick men captured an English flag. Selkirk remembers the Battle of Flodden, when the town sent 80 men on to the field and only one returned, carrying a bloody English flag.

There are plenty of festivities surrounding the Common Riding and, in the week or two before the Common Riding, there are frenzied, galloping "ride outs" to neighboring towns and villages.

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