Riding the marches in Scotland c.1500-1996
Bogle, Kenneth R.
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The 'Riding of the Marches' or the 'Common Riding' refers to a series of festivals which take place annually in several Scottish towns. These festivals are loosely based on the old custom of a ceremonial procession, usually on horseback, around the boundary of the burgh common, which was intended to delineate the area and check any encroachment upon it by neighbouring landowners and others. Some ridings, such as Lanark, Linlithgow and Selkirk, have a continuous history since the sixteenth-century, whilst others are more recent innovations. The modern event is primarily associated with the Scottish Borders. The purpose of this thesis is to trace the historical development and evolution of the ridings from the sixteenthcentury to the present. The thesis is broadly chronological and is arranged in six chapters. Chapter One provides a detailed introduction and overview of the modern ridings. The intention is to explain some of the terminology and other features of the ridings, and to indicate the nature of these events and state why they are important. Chapter Two begins the chronological history of the ridings by examining the earliest records of the event. Chapter Three considers the battle of Flodden Field (1513) and the various Common Riding traditions about it. Chapter Four examines the form and functions of the eighteenth-century ridings. Chapter Five covers the period between 1830 to 1900, when profound social and economic change challenged and influenced the event. Chapter Six concludes the history of the ridings, and covers the period between 1880 to the present. There is also a plate section between Chapters Three and Four. This thesis demonstrates that the modern ridings are complex events, which are the product of several centuries of adaptation and development. Although derived from an old custom, the modern ridings continue to occupy a vital place in the lives of people who participate in them.