The Langholm Common Riding always takes place on the last Friday in July. It starts at 5am as the flute band parades the town and ends at 9.30pm as the cornet hands back the flag in front of the town hall.
Origin of Riding the Common
Two Hundred and forty-four years ago the three owners of the Ten Merk Lands of Langholm were parties in an action in the Court of Session in Edinburgh for the delimitation of certain areas of ground 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 legal rights and privileges, and that part of the Ten Merk Lands, particularly the Common Moss and Kilngreen, had belonged inalienably to the community. As a result of this award, it became an obligation of the Burgesses that the boundaries of the communal possessions 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 encroachments.
One of the features of Langholm Common Riding is the quaint emblems which are carried in the procession:-
First there is the Barley Bannock and the salted herring fastened by a large nail - a "twal-penny nail" - to a wooden platter and flourished aloft on a pole. The bannock symbolises certain of the privileges of the Baron under the obligation of thirlage, while the fish may be symbolic of the Baron's right to the fisheries in the Esk or merely of the necessity of having some "kitchen" or relish to go with the decidedly dry fare of the bannock.
Next emblem is the Spade , the very epitome of the Common Riding, used as it is for cutting sods at different points of the Common and for clearing out the pits which originally marked the boundaries on the Common Moss up Whita Hill.
Third emblem is a gigantic Scottish Thistle, a most picturesque accompaniment. The origin and purpose of the introduction of the thistle is very obscure. Being the national emblem of Scotland, it may have been adopted as such, or possibly on account of its 'jags' as a warning to anyone who contemplated interfering with the Fair.
The fourth emblem is the floral Crown. It has no historical significance, and may have been adopted as a symbol of loyalty to the sovereign.
Three of these symbols appear in the Langholm Coat of Arms.
To see more photos of the Common Riding click here