Berwick stages 407th Riding of the Bounds

More than 80 horses and riders took part in the 407th Riding of the Bounds around Berwick.

Sunday, 1st May 2016, 3:39 pm
Updated Sunday, 1st May 2016, 4:42 pm
2016 Chief Marshal Rachel Martin leads the cavalcade down Marygate

Chief marshal Rachel Martin led the way after receiving permission to undertake the ancient rideout from Mayor Hazel Bettison.

It was one of the biggest turnouts in recent years, partly due to it being on a Sunday this year but also thanks to Berwick Riders’ Association’s efforts to drum up support.

Despite the rather damp and cold conditions, there was also an excellent turnout of spectators at Berwick Barracks and on Marygate to see them on their way.

Rachel, 19, has ridden the 15-mile route every year since she was 10.

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This year she was on board Deano, a retired racehorse from Kimmerston Riding Stables.

The principals line-up was completed by left hand Beth Innes and right hand Lorraine Fiddes, last year’s chief marshal.

A number of principals from other Border towns also attended.

The event dates back to the 15th century.

It is known that the Bounds were agreed by Scottish and English represenatives in 1438, that they were walked in 1542 and ridden by a chief marshal and garrison soldiers in 1550.

The need to protect against encroachment by the Scots ended with the Union of the Crowns and the Riding of the Bounds became merely a civic occasion, beginning in 1609.

In the early years, there were two ridings each year, reduced later to a single event, taking place on May 1.

By the 18th century, the format had changed to incorporate a variety of festivities. There were horse races and gifts were given to school children.

To greet the return of the riders, the town hall bells were rung and cannon fired from the ramparts and music played from Scotsgate.

It was the custom for the mayor to present ribbons to the riders to decorate their horses, a tradition that continues today in the form of rosettes.