The Edinburgh March Riding Association is honoured to have support from The Rt. Hon Frank Ross, Lord Lieutenant and Lord Provost of Edinburgh, who plays a key role in the event day proceedings, including leading the Cavalcade on foot, hosting a Civic Reception and presiding over an exclusive ‘Claret Toast’ Ceremony in his Private Chambers to which VIP guests and sponsors are invited.
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 11am, from where they embarked on an inspection of the Marches of the Common Land led by the Captain of the Trained Band (Town Guard), Provost, Baillies and Burgesses. “Intimatioun” (intimation) of the event was given to the “nichtbouris” (towns people) and anyone who regularly made use of the Common Land, possessed a horse and failed to take part in the inspection was liable to be fined. The following extract was taken from the Edinburgh Town Council minutes, 30th October 1579:
“….the Counsall ordains proclamatioun to be maid chairging all merchantis craftismen and utheris inhabitantis within this burgh to be in radynes the morn be xi houris to accompany the provest the baillies and counsall to vesy (examine/inspect) thair methis (boundary markers) and bounds as ordour hes bene on horsback and to proclame thair Allhallowes fair to begyn the morn be xii houris”
The 3 Lord Provosts who have been in position since the inception of The Edinburgh March Riding Association Ltd (‘EMRA Ltd’) have all been hugely influential in supporting the development of the event. George Grubb, Donald Wilson and Frank Ross are all from different political backgrounds and have very different approaches, however all three maintained serious dedication to the cause. Sadly George Grubb passed away in 2018, however his memory will live on in all the elected Lord Provosts. Special mention also goes to Norma Cuthbertson and all the Lord Provost’s staff who have worked with us over the years.
“The Edinburgh Riding of the Marches is more than a colourful re-enactment of an ancient tradition. It is about 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 1494. Since being reintroduced in 2009 by the Edinburgh March Riding Association Ltd, the event has gone from strength to strength. Now as well as 280 horses coming up the Royal Mile we have the High Constables, Lord Provost, DLP and Bailies, flags of the incorporated trades and the Merchant Company, pipe bands and more. It is quite a sight!
The Edinburgh Flag is ceremonially handed back atop the Mercat Cross with the symbolic declaration from the Edinburgh Captain that the city boundaries are clear.
I would like to thank all those involved for their tremendous effort. The Riding of the Marches ceremony is something we do as Edinburgh citizens for Edinburgh citizens and as civic leader I am a great supporter of it. I look forward to seeing you all on the High Street at the next Edinburgh Riding of the Marches.”
(Photo credit above: Alan Wilson)