Summer 2006 has been a scorcher and
we hope that the sun continues to shine, especially on Langholm, as
Border town gears up from the crack of dawn (5am) today (Friday 28 July
2006) for the highlight of the town’s year – the annual Common Riding
which is followed by Horse Races and Athletic Games. Langholm - The Muckle Toun o the Lang Holm - was formerly known as
Arkinholm and became a Burgh of Barony in 1610. The industrial mill town
is picturesquely situated in the heart of a river junction, where the
River Esk is joined by the Wauchope and Ewe Water. Reflecting on the
beauty of the town's location, Langholm's most famous son, the poet Hugh
MacDiarmid wrote :-
'Gin scenic beauty had a' I sook,
I never need ha' left the muckle toon.'
The town's Common Riding dates back to 1759. It is held on the date of the
annual festival known as the 'Langholm Summer Fair', which was Scotland's
greatest lamb sales. Today it is traditionally held on the last Friday in
July. Whilst enjoying a meal or refreshment in Langholm's Crown Hotel,
you can read on the entrance hall wall – 'The Origin
of Riding the Common'.
In 1759 the three owners of the Ten Merk Land of Langholm were in an
action in the Court of Session in Edinburgh for the delimitation of
certain area in and around the town. The boundaries were duly defined, but
in the award it was laid down by the Court that the Burgesses of Langholm
had certain local rights and privileges, and that part of the Ten Merk
Lands, particularly the Common Moss and the Kilngreen, had belonged
inalienably to the community.
It became an obligation of the Burgesses that the boundaries of the
communal possession should be clearly defined, and accordingly beacons
and cairns were erected and pits were dug to indicate where the communal
lands began and ended, and a man was appointed to go out each year to
repair the boundary marks and to report any encroachment.
The first man to perform this duty was "Bauldy" (Archibald) Beatty, the
Town Drummer, who walked the Marches and proclaimed the Fair at Langholm
Mercat Cross for upwards half a century. According to the records it was
in the year 1816 that the Riding of the Common began. The first person to
ride on horseback over the Marches was Archie Thomson, landlord of the
Commercial Inn. In the previous year, Thomson, like "Bauldy" his
predecessor, went over the boundaries on foot alone, but on the present
occasion he was accompanied by other townsmen - John Irving, of Langholm
Mill; and Frank Beatty, landlord of the Crown Inn, being probably the most
prominent. These local enthusiasts, sometimes referred to as the "Fathers
of the Common Riding" were responsible for introducing horse-racing, which
took place on the Kilngreen, Langholm's ancient commonty. Horse racing was
continued here until 1834, when the races and sports were transferred to
With the introduction of horsemen, there followed in 1817, the selection
of a leader or Cornet who would act as Master of Ceremonies during the
proceedings and activities of Common Riding Day.
In 1919 it was decided that the Common Riding be always held on the last
Friday in July.'
The entrance of the Crown Hotel also has a complete record of all the Common
Riding Cornets from W. Pasley in 1817 onwards. The name of the
2006 Cornet Kevan William Grieve will take his
rightful place on the Cornet's scroll. In the
Public Bar a poster is on display advertising the 1937 Common Riding
when on 30 July Walter Watson Robertson, an engineer, rode into Langholm
history and was added to the long list of Cornets, The price of
admission to the Horse Racing and Athletic Games was – Adults 1/6; Girls
and Boys 6d – in 1937. Interestingly the style of poster for 2006 still
looks exactly the same as in 1937 but the admission prices are slightly
dearer! Adults are now charged £5, Senior Citizens £2, however children
(under 12) now receive free admission.
the hope that not only Langholm, but all of Scotland, continues to bask in
and enjoy long summer days, our recipe thoughts for this week turned to
a suitable ‘hot weather’ one. Kenzie Wallace supplied the answer with
her very own ice-cream based Kenzie’s Knickerbocker Glory –ENJOY.
Method: Put fresh strawberry slices,
grapes and melon pieces in the base of a tall glass. Add two
scoops of vanilla and one scoop of strawberry ice cream. Pour over
peach melba sauce. Top with thick whipped cream. Finally, decorate
with a cherry and add an ice cream wafer.
immediately with a long handled spoon and a big napkin!