Hundreds of horse troopers flock to capital’s fabulous equine spectacle

Next Sunday will see Edinburgh’s Royal Mile resound to the clattering of hundreds of horses’ hooves as the annual Riding of the Marches recalls a custom dating back many centuries.

By Roy Beers
Saturday, 7th September 2019, 2:32 pm

In a spectacle guaranteed to draw thousands of tourists no less than 300 riders will repeat a ceremony dating back to at least 1494, and abandoned (until ten years ago) in 1718.

A one-off event was revived in 1946 to mark the end of the Second World War, but since its revival in 2009 the Riding has grown to become one of the largest events of its kind in Scotland.

The modern-day re-enactment, revived in 2009, also commemorates Randolph Murray’s return to Edinburgh with the ancient Blue Blanket and the tragic news of defeat of the Scottish Army at the 1513 Battle of Flodden, in which King James IV and thousands of fellow Scots were killed during a disastrous invasion of England in support of Scotland’s ally France.

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Originally intended as a martial tour of the city’s common ground boundaries this year’s event will feature riders from all over the world, including Canada, the USDA and Australia.

They will join representatives from the Scottish Borders Common Riding and Festival towns, who will be dressed in their traditional colours and sashes.

The day starts early with high-energy gallops through countryside surrounding the city centre to re-enact the ancient custom of inspecting the Burgh Marches.

The 300 riders then continue their journey through Holyrood Park before finally traversing up the Royal Mile, led by pipes and drums.