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Scottish Borders Common Ridings and Festivals

Borderers from across the region are set to put pen to paper and invite their friends and family back to the Borders to Return to The Ridings. The Border Common Ridings & Festivals has launched the Return to the Ridings invitations, a selection of iconic postcard images for each of the participating events, which residents can send to all their friends and family.

Return to The Ridings is part of the Homecoming Scotland programme, extending the invitation to Border Scots throughout the world to return to their Ridings and join a series of co-ordinated ancient festivals across the Scottish Border towns. A new website has been created for the celebrations at

The Postcards are FREE and can be collected from Tourist Information Centres, libraries and the town’s Common Ridings committees. E-versions of the postcards will also be available to download electronically from the Homecoming website:

During the Homecoming year 2009, the towns of Hawick, West Linton, Selkirk, Peebles, Melrose, Galashiels, Jedburgh, Duns, Kelso, Lauder and Coldstream join together to celebrate their historic Common Ridings and Festivals. These 11 towns in the Scottish Borders focus their ride-outs around the use of the horses.

An iconic image capturing the unique culture of each Common Riding & Festival was selected by the towns’ Common Ridings Committees. Each postcard carries the invitation to ‘Come Home’. The reverse of each postcard carries the date of the Common Riding & Festival with suggestion for the Borderer to ‘Invite your friends & family to the Ridings. The recipient is encouraged to log on to the new website for full details of the events and information on how to book their trips Back to the Borders.

Andrew Johnston Chairman of the Border Common Ridings and Festivals Association, said:
“The Return to the Ridings postcards are the perfect opportunity for all Borderers to invite their friends and relatives back to the Borders for the 2009 Border Common Ridings and Festivals. The image that has been selected for each postcard reflects the unique culture and heritage of the Common Ridings.

“With Christmas only a few weeks away why not include the postcards with any Christmas cards that are being sent abroad? According to the Royal Mail the international deadline for Christmas cards going abroad is from the 5th of December.”

Councillor Vicky Davidson, Executive Member for Economic Development, Scottish Borders Council, said:
“The Common Ridings are key events in the Borders calendar and 2009 promises to be an extra special year for them all with the increased emphasis on bringing Borderers back home.

“Almost everyone in the Borders will be able to think of relatives who have emigrated overseas. The postcards are a way for all Borderers to get involved in promoting the Borders heritage by searching out these addresses and sending a greeting.”

Paul Bush, Chief Operating Officer of EventScotland, the government agency leading the delivery of Homecoming Scotland said:
“We are delighted that Return to the Ridings is part of our Homecoming programme of events. The year long programme will bring the Scottish population, people with Scottish ancestry and those who simply love Scotland ‘home’ to join us in celebrating the 250th anniversary of the birth of our national poet and international cultural icon, Robert Burns.”

“Return to the Ridings is a fantastic fit with Homecoming and the call for people with Scots ancestry, as well as those who love Scotland, to come home in 2009. The Common Ridings and Festivals are an integral part of Borders life and embody the living traditions that appeal to people around the world who are or who feel connected with our country.”

The Return to the Ridings Postcard Images*
Coldstream – The Coldstreamer being piped to the wreath-laying service to commemorate the dead of the Battle of Flodden, 1513.

Duns – The Reivers Lad, who is charged with the safekeeping of the Burgh flag, and Reivers Lass on their way to the summit of Duns Law. Here in 1639 General Leslie‘s covenanting army encamped to oppose Charles I who was preparing to cross the River Tweed.

Galashiels – The Braw Lass and Braw Lad riding the Burgh Flag through the streets of Galashiels before continuing on to the Raid Stane. The Raid Stane visit commemorates a victory by Gala lads over English raiders in 1337.

Hawick – The Cornet with “the banner blue” leads his followers in the chase, a ride at full gallop, in memory of the victorious youths of 1514. This ride commemorates the callants, young Hawick lads who in 1514 routed English plunderers, capturing their flag.

Jedburgh – The Callant leading the festival proceedings through the town. The Festival takes in sites of historical interest, including Redeswire, close by Carter Bar, the site of a battle in 1575 when the timely arrival of the Jedburgh contingent with their cry “Jethart‘s here” turned an apparent defeat of the men from Liddesdale into a rout of the English.

Kelso – The Kelso Laddie Bussing the Burgh Standard. This ceremony takes place in Market Square and concludes with the Kelso Laddie‘s Reel.

Lauder – The Cornet leading a mounted cavalcade to the Watering Stane and onto the Burgess Cairn, the only boundary stone still in existence.

Melrose – A selection of four images depicting: The Melrosian during the rideout, The Festival Queen and her attendants, a young rider and a Roman Centurion at Trimontium.

Peebles – The mounted procession riding the marches during Peebles Beltane Week. Beltane signifies the fire of Bell or Baal and originated from the pagan Celtic festival in honour of the power which in early summer gave light, warmth and growth.

Selkirk – A packed town square during the casting of the colours, a tradition created following the Battle of Flodden in 1513 when only one man, Fletcher, survived to return, weary and wounded but bearing a captured English flag which he raised aloft and then cast to the ground. The Flodden legend came to be associated with the Common Riding, with the Royal Standard Bearer as the central figure and the casting of the colours the main ceremony.

West Linton – The Whipman, wearing his official sash, leading a mounted procession through the village.

Since the beginning of the 16th Century, Common Ridings & Festivals have formed an integral part of Scottish Borders tradition. Common Riding is an annual celebration that involves townsfolk in a grand ‘ride-out’ on horse-back around the town.

The centuries-old Scottish Borders Common Ridings & Festivals have joined together to support Scotland’s first national Homecoming celebration by issuing a joint invitation to Border folk around the globe to Return to the Ridings in 2009.

The events are friendly, heart-stirring and steeped in local history, including rousing music and song specific to each town. 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.

Return to the Ridings Dates:

o 1-6 June: Hawick Common Riding
o 5-13 June: West Linton Whipman
o 8-13 June: Selkirk Common Riding
o 14-20 June: Peebles Beltane
o 14-20 June: Melrose Festival
o 19-28 June: Galashiels Braw Lads Gathering
o 27 June-10 July: Jed Callants Festival
o 5-11 July: Duns Summer Festival
o 13-18 July: Kelso Civic Week
o 26 July - 1 August: Lauder Common Riding
o 2-8 August: Coldstream Civic Week

About Homecoming Scotland 2009 (
• Homecoming Scotland is a Scottish Government initiative managed by EventScotland, the national events agency, in partnership with VisitScotland, the country's national tourism agency.
· Robert Burns is the inspiration for Homecoming Scotland as 2009 is the 250th anniversary of the birth of Scotland’s national poet.

Homecoming Scotland 2009

Scottish Borders Festivals

Date: 03/12/2008