07/09/2016 by Lord Provost
This Sunday sees the return of the historic Edinburgh Riding of the Marches.
Much more than a colourful re-enactment of an ancient tradition, to me the Riding is about appreciating the history of the city we live in and celebrating being a citizen of Scotland’s great Capital City.
Inspecting the borders of the common land and reporting that the citizens are in ‘good heart’ is an ancient tradition dating back at least as far as 1579. Yet how many of us living in Edinburgh know how it all began?
The Common Land, known as the Burgh Muir, was part of the ancient forest of Drumselch. It is believed that the land was gifted to the people of the city by David I in 1143 around the time of the foundation of Holyrood Abbey. The area was famously where Scotland’s Kings would gather their armies before entering into battle.
In 1579, a group of towns-people gathered at the Provost’s house from where they embarked on an inspection of the Marches of the Common Land led by the Captain of the Trained Band, Provost, Baillies and Burgesses.
On Sunday, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d stepped into the set of a movie when the city steps back in time to re-enact the inspection. High Constables in their traditional dress and the City Guard complete with muskets pass by. There will be 280 horses led by Captain Paul Richards and Lass Cheryl McVay-Edwards trotting up the Royal Mile to the Mercat Cross near St Giles’ Cathedral. Flags of the incorporated trades and the Merchant Company will be flying and pipe bands will pass by. It’s going to be quite a sight!
I’m looking forward to supporting not only the tradition, but the local excitement of the day. The event is held by Edinburgh citizens for Edinburgh citizens and since being reintroduced in 2009 by the Edinburgh March Riding Association, it has really has gone from strength to strength.
The Edinburgh Flag is ceremonially handed back atop the Mercat Cross and then it is round to Parliament square for the casting of the colours. Each year the Riding attracts thousands of eager tourists, but it is local people I really hope to see lining the High Street this year.
Join us and hundreds of others from 1:30pm as we inspect the borders of the common land and report that the citizens are in ‘good heart’ - an ancient Edinburgh tradition dating back at least as far as 1579.
The best viewing areas to see the ceremonies will be on the High Street, with the focus centered on the Mercat Cross where the returning of the city banner will take place.
The main timings and route through the city centre will be:
- 1.30pm Entertainment begins in the High Street Event Arena
- 3.10pm Ride enters Holyrood Park at Duddingston
- 3.35pm Ride arrives at Holyrood Palace
- 3.40pm Ride enters the Royal Mile at the Scottish Parliament
- 3.55pm Ride arrives at the Mercat Cross in the High Street
- 4pm Ceremony Commences
- 4.30pm Ceremony & Ride Finishes
- After Party to be held at the Three Sisters in The Cowgate. All are welcome!
Make sure you don’t miss it. Safe oot, Safe in!