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Lauder Common Riding is proud to be one of the original and oldest Border Common Ridings, with references to the festival dating back to the 1600s. 


The Common Riding in Lauder originally had a religious basis, being related to the ceremonial blessing of the lands, crops and affairs of the Burgh, and it was celebrated on Ascension Day.  The Riding of the Marches (boundaries) points to a time when the Burgh Lands were not enclosed, and was a serious business – failure to attend could result in a fine of 5/- in the early 19th century. 


The Burgesses and Town Council assembled in front of the Old Tolbooth, where they pledged allegiance to their Sovereign Lord before setting off to ride round their territory, following largely the same route that we do today.   At intervals in the ride the Burgess Roll was called, and stones were carried in the pockets of the riders to be deposited at various cairns or landmarks on the route – this is a tradition still upheld by the Cornet today when he adds a stone to the last remaining original cairn, now known as the Burgess Cairn, high above the road from Lauder to Stow.

When within a mile of the Burgh all the riders were historically commanded to a halt before a race was started; accidents sometimes took place, but these were overlooked in the scramble for the goal of the centre of Lauder.  The Common Riding was ceased in the 1800s by order of the Town Council for reasons of public safety - excessive amounts of alcohol and galloping of horses down the high street seem to have been involved.


However, in 1911 there was a desire to resurrect the tradition as a way of marking the coronation of King George IV.  Help was sought from our friends at Selkirk Common Riding, and the Common Riding as we know it came into being, and since then the ceremonial aspects of the Common Riding have remain unchanged. 


The Border Telegraph had this report on 27th June 1911:


"One of the most unique features in the Border celebrations was that at Lauder, where the old ceremony of riding the marches was revived, and which proved entirely successful.  The ceremony was timed for 8.00am and long before that the Market Place was crowded, while nearly fifty horsemen were present.


Promptly at 8.30 Provost Cossar and Mrs Cossar took their stand at the Town Hall steps and Cornet Webster immediately advanced to receive the Standard.  The Standard Bearer was first invested with his sash of office by Mrs Cossar, and the Provost on presenting the flag said: 'The riding of the marches is new to this generation, the last occasion being about seventy years ago'. "























Along with the main object of riding the marches a variety of other events has always been included to make a festive week in the Royal Burgh.  Horse racing used to take place at the Castle Haugh and, later, on the Common above Greenwells, after the ride out.  Foot racing also provided entertainment with the Professional Games held for many years in the public park until 1986.  At the same time a gymkhana took place on the Castle Riggs. 


The organisation of the Common Riding and it’s associated events have always been the responsibility of the Common Riding Committee, although up till the reorganisation of Local Government in the 1970s, the Provost, as civic head of the Royal Burgh, played an important part in the ceremonial aspect of the day.  The other group that plays a large part in the Common Riding is the Ex Cornets’ Association.  It is this Association who choose a suitable candidate for the position of Cornet each year and pass their recommendation to the Common Riding Committee.



Text adapted from 'Lauder & Lauderdale', A Thomson, (1902); 'Lauderdale in the 20th Century', N McLeish & F Mackay, (2002) and 'Lauder; Its Kirk and People 1973 - 2000', S Dodds, (2001) 

Postcard depicting the 1911 Common Riding



'The Pride o' Lauderdale'

1911     H P Webster

1912     W Watson

1913     I White

1914     D H Watson

1923     J M Graham

1924     C O Cant

1925     J M Paterson

1926     G Wilson

1927     T Shaw

1928     J Nivison

1929     T H Scott

1930     J Brodie

1931     W J Shaw

1932     A Brown

1933     R T Landells

1934     J Watson

1935     G A Brown

1936     J C Delahunt

1937     J T Robson

1938     F Tocher

1939     A Landells

1946     A L Thomson

1947     R Redpath

1948     W Johnston

1949     J Johnston

1950     J B Dagg

1951      J Mackison

1952      J P Weatherly

1953      D T Middlemiss

1954      J A Middlemiss

1955      R S Landells

1956      S Threadgall

1957      D S Thomson

1958      A D Whellans

1959      D M Wilson

1960      A P Turnbull

1961      W T F Brown

1962      J D Murray

1963      W Middlemiss

1964      D S Waldie

1965      J T Brotherston

1966      D N White

1967      I H W G Scott

1968      C G A McHutchon

1969      I W M Anderson

1970      D A E Elrick

1971       G I Jones

1972      G Threadgall

1973      M Johnston

1974      P R Riddell

1975      G S Riddell

1976      S Threadgall

1977      G W Masson

1978      S R Gryczka

1979      I Middlemiss

1980      R J R Ker

1981       J F Threadgall

1982      R A Kerr

1983      S Thomson

1984      J C McNeill

1985      R E Landells

1986      P F Middlemiss

1987      A Middlemiss

1988      D Wilkinson

1989      R Wilkinson

1990      A Gilchrist

1991       J Fairbairn

1992      A Strangeways

1993      D J Wilson

1994      M Middlemiss

1995      R Millar

1996      M Bryson

1997      R J Wilson

1998      S Smith

1999      G Gilder

2000     A Crombie-Smith

2001      T I M Fallas

2002      D Megahy

2003      S R Murray

2004      S M Dick

2005      S Threadgall

2006      L Wilson

2007      S Hardie

2008      J Threadgall

2009      M Alexander

2010      F Middlemiss

2011       I O Dick

2012      G Ker

2013      C McNeill

2014      C Connell

2015      D Simpson

2016      G Scott              

2017      H Steele

2018      C Rogerson 

2019      C Purves

2022      E Balson

2023       J Mirley

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