Few traditions of South West Scotland celebrate days gone by more than the annual Ridings of the Marches. They are common across the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway and commemorate a time when boundary land was often fought over. Disputes often became violent as land and livestock were stolen by rival families. Nowadays, Kirkcudbright Riding of the Marches is much more friendly and celebratory!
Many towns’ rideouts follow a similar format with a local young man chosen to lead horses and riders. They ride round the boundaries of the town to check they haven’t been moved. A young lady is chosen to ‘buss’ his flag by adding her ribbons. This harks back to the tradition of a lady adding her ribbons to a lance before her beloved went into battle.
The principals are given different names in different towns. For example, Standard Bearer, Braw Lad and Honest Lad. In Kirkcudbright, he’s known as the Cornet and is joined by the Pursuivant or King’s Messenger. Kirkcudbright was granted royal status by James II who sent a representative to inspect the boundaries with the Cornet. This was a Cavalry Officer in those times.
This year’s Kirkcudbright Riding of the Marches takes place on Friday 20thJuly from 7-9pm. You can expect a cavalcade of over 100 horses and riders. One of the customs is that they stop at the town’s pubs and hostelries for a tipple before carrying on their way.
Close to the action
The Kirkcudbright Holiday Cottages at High Kirkland are the ideal place to stay if you’re visiting the area for the Riding of the Marches. It’s just a five-minute drive to the start at Dee Walk. And after the Cornet has performed his duties, it’s just a short drive back from Harbour Square, where it ends. (Or a brisk walk of just over a mile if you’ve sampled a few tipples, too!).
Our Galloway Holiday Cottages are perfect for unwinding after the festivities. With luxurious surroundings and stunning views, it’s a great location for a well deserved break. We haven’t quite got room for all 100 horses and riders but The Byre sleeps 4, Heron View sleeps 5 and Robin’s Nest sleeps 8. Bring a few friends and have a truly relaxing visit.
To check availability and prices for our cottages please click here.
To find out more about the Kirkcudbright Riding of the Marches please click here.
Images of Kirkcudbright Riding of the Marches 2014 by Dumfries & Galloway! What’s Going On?