Common Ridings

Since the beginning of the 16th century the Common Ridings have formed an integral part of the Borders tradition.  
Common Riding is an annual celebration that involves townsfolk in a grand ‘ride-out' on horse-back around the town and its historic boundaries when they as well national borders needed to be kept under constant surveillance against incursion and encroachment.  

These, after all, were the border badlands, home to the infamous Border Reivers, whose way of life leaves little to the imagination when you consider they bequeathed blackmail and bereavement to the English language.  

There are 11 border towns who share an ancient tradition known as riding the bounds with horses - and plenty of debate as to whose is the oldest.  We can be certain that Hawick and Selkirk are among the biggest.  

From May to August hundreds of riders saddle up for their respective territorial trots led by a standard bearer, usually elected by his local community. Depending on where you are in the border region the standard bearer is known as the Laddie, Cornet, Coldstreamer, Bari Gadgi and Callant among other colourful descriptions. 

 Nowadays the ridings form the centrepiece of civic week celebrations and attract visitors from all over the world. They have been included in the official programme for Homecoming Scotland and a ‘Return to the Ridings' has been a centrepiece of the Borders' efforts to welcome home ex-pats and those of Scottish descent.   

The events are friendly, heart-stirring and steeped in local history. Visitors are always made welcome and will soon find themselves joining in - whether it's linking arms as the procession moves through the town or cheering the stunning displays of horsemanship as the riders gallop back into the town.   

The town's who stage common ridings include Coldstream (August 2-8), Duns (July 5-11), Galashiels (June 19-28), Hawick (June 1-6), Jedburgh (June 27 - July 10), Kelso (July 13-18), Lauder (July 26 - August 1), Melrose (June 14-20), Peebles (June 14-20), Selkirk (June 8-13), West Linton (June 5-13).   Just across the Border, at Berwick-on-Tweed, townsfolk celebrate the 400th anniversary of their Common Riding and are planning a spectacular turnout of 400 riders to do the honours.   

A new website has been created for the celebrations at  


Steve Hislop | New tartan launched for Return to the Ridings

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