Edinburgh Riding of the Marches

Above: The Cavalcade approaches the Mercat Cross on the Royal Mile in 2017. Photo by Phunkt.com

The Edinburgh Riding of the Marches is one of Edinburgh’s largest public events, taking place right in the heart of the Scottish capital every September.

Taking its roots from the historical Common Ridings of Scotland, 300 horses will traverse the ancient Royal Mile this year on Sunday 15th September 2019. This spectacular cavalcade is a re-enactment of the return of the Captain of the Trained Band (responsible for keeping order within the City) to Edinburgh with the tragic news of defeat at the Battle of Flodden, 1513.

The first record of a Riding of the Marches in Edinburgh was on All Hallows (Halloween), 31st October 1579.  On this date, a group of towns' people gathered at the Provost's house at 11 o'clock from where they embarked on an inspection of the Marches (boundaries) of the Common Land led by the Captain of the Trained Band (Town Guard), the Lord Provost, Baillies and Burgesses.  The inspection of the Common Land continued, until the demise of the practise in 1718.

Every year, following a morning of re-enactment of inspecting the city boundaries through some of Edinburgh’s countryside, the elected Captain and Lass will lead the 300 horses up Edinburgh’s Royal Mile towards the Mercat Cross.  Crowds of around 25,000 line the Royal Mile from midday onwards, awaiting the arrival of the Cavalcade, at the base of the Royal Mile, before commencing the climb to Parliament Square.  Accompanied by several pipe bands and led by the Lord Provost, his City Officer, The Deacon Convenor of the Incorporated Trades of Edinburgh, Trades Officer, The Old Master and Lord Dean of Guild of the Merchants Company of Edinburgh and representatives carrying their Edinburgh Trades Banners and representatives from the Edinburgh Exiles Association, all carrying their associated banners and flags in what has proven to be a fantastic spectacle, with resonating historical and cultural significance.

But this annual event is in danger of having to cease.  A small committee of just 12 volunteers work tirelessly to fundraise to pay for the event to take place, and rising costs mean that in order to run the event and secure it for future years, they must raise £30,000.00 just to pay for this year's event.
Above: In 1946 a special 'Riding of the Marches' was held in Edinburgh to celebrate peace and the end of the war. Seventy riders tooks part and a large crowd, reported to be 'approaching Royal visit dimensions' greeted the riders on the Royal Mile.

All monies raised go towards funding the event itself, including Licenses, Insurance, PA System for the Royal Mile, Security, Event Radios, Portaloos, Raynet, International Rescue Corps, Border Search & Rescue Unit, Traffic Management, Police Scotland, Edinburgh City Council Admin, Historic Scotland, Vehicle Hire (including fuel), Horse Hire for the Captain & Lass, Entertainment (Pipe and Silver Bands) for the Royal Mile, Marketing & PR Costs, Event Brochure and the Website.

In 2018 it was estimated that around 25,000 visitors watched the event on the Royal Mile which has become an annual event in honour of those who sought to protect the integrity of Edinburgh's Common Land and defend the inhabitants of the city.  The symbolic tradition of inspecting the common land dates back centuries, to at least 1494, making it one of the oldest rides in Scotland.  It is this link with the past that we must protect and remember those who have helped shape and build the city over the centuries.

We would be so very grateful to anyone who has spectated this event for themselves, or would like to during a trip to Edinburgh, or is simply passionate enough about Scottish history and traditions, to donate whatever you can towards this cause.

We thank you for your generosity and support - every penny counts, to help towards securing a future for this incredible historical event.

Please visit our website for more information: www.edinburghridingofthemarches.com


Edinburgh ROM

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