The Riding of the Marches in Edinburgh

Sunday, September 6, 2009, is set to mark an equestrian event of a different kind in Scotland – the Riding of the Marches. This unusual, historic event is one of Edinburgh’s oldest traditions. It dates back to 1579, though it has not taken place since 1946. 2009 will mark the revival of this grand tradition – much to the delight of horse lover’s everywhere.

If you’re wondering what Riding of the Marches means, you most likely are not alone. With this tradition almost lost in history, many youths are now learning about it for the first time. The event, which is also known as Common Riding, involves large numbers of horse riding participants who ride the boundaries of their respective towns on the day chosen for the event. In doing so, they honor the memory of those who carried out this duty in the past as part of efforts to defend, not only the patrons of the settlement, but also the land that surrounds it from encroachment. During the day’s proceedings, a principal rider carries the burgh banner and leads his comrades in the chosen path.

The most spectacular edition of this event will take place in Edinburgh. Here the principal rider is known as the Edinburgh Captain and he will make his way around the city with his first and second officers riding to his right and left side. As many as 250 riders will be setting off on the day to inspect Edinburgh’s southern boundary. When they return they will proceed up the Royal Mile to Mercat Cross where a lovely open air ceremony will give the proceedings an extra-special edge.

As this is the first time the event is taking place in 63 years, principal riders from 27 of Scotland’s towns will be riding in the very large group, each carrying his or her burgh flag. The sight of some 250 mounted men and women traveling in a single group flying flags is something that is hard to imagine and which must be seen to be truly appreciated. So make sure you don’t miss out. Make sure that you’re in Edinburgh on September 6, 2009 between 7:00 and 14:30 so that you can enjoy this lovely event!