• Charlotte Ashley

Commemorative works for Scottish Border town


Since the 12th century riders have taken themselves out on horseback to patrol the borders of their land and Langholm is no different, the ancient tradition is still alive and thriving today, the bloodshed and wars between the towns on both sides of the Scottish border have now been replaced by the theatrics and ceremony so us foreigners may safely watch what was once a ritual that would have had you running for your lives.

This event always takes place on the last Friday in July. It starts at 5am as the flute band parades the town and ends at 9.30 pm as the cornet hands back the flag in front of the town hall, during this long day 140 or so riders and followers patrol the town culminating in an epic gallop up Kirk wynd to a monument on the hill. during the patrol walkers on foot carry four emblems First there is the Barley Bannock and the salted herring fastened by a large nail - a "twal-penny nail" - to a wooden platter. Next emblem is the Spade , the very epitome of the Common Riding, used as it is for cutting sods at different points of the Common and for clearing out the pits which originally marked the boundaries on the Common Moss, Third emblem is a massive Scottish Thistle, and it is gigantic i honestly dont know how they carry it around, The fourth emblem is the rose crown three of these symbols appear in the Langholm coat of arms.

every spring a Cornet is elected by the people of the town to be the symbolic leader and is honoured with carrying the town's flag. Iv just read that the election of the 'Honest Lad' attracts more votes than a General Election and i can well believe it, iv never felt such a community spirit its sadly whats missing from society today. This boy an unmarried, native lad of admirable character and riding skills, Becoming 'king for the day' is the greatest honour he could receive from the town, and almost certainly is a proud and memorable day, Ian Little was Cornet in 2018 and said "it has been an ambition of his since being a child" so with that in mind i have been asked for 2017 and 2018 to commemorate the young lads with a felt, in 2017 Latimers of Langholm presented Stuart Murray a woolly representation of the rose crown and town hall and in 2018 Ian Little was presented the 4 emblems in wool by his family, as an artist i felt honoured to be a part of something so historic and memorable and will continue to make the pilgrimage to the borders every year to feel a bit of that real community spirit.

81 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All