Theme Week Scottish Borders – Selkirk

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018 - 12:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General

Haining House © - Adam D Hope/cc-by-sa-2.0

Haining House © – Adam D Hope/cc-by-sa-2.0

Selkirk is a town and historic Royal Burgh in the Scottish Borders Council district of southeastern Scotland. It lies on the Ettrick Water, a tributary of the River Tweed. The people of the town are known as Souters, which means cobblers (shoe makers and menders). Selkirk’s population is at 5800.

Selkirk grew because of its woollen industry, although now that industry has ceased, leaving little in its wake. The town is best known for bannocks, a dry fruit cake. It has a museum and an art gallery. The town has associations with Mungo Park (explorer); James Hogg (“The Ettrick Shepherd”), a local poet and writer; and Sir Walter Scott, a writer of romances in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It is also home to Scotland’s oldest horse racing track, the Gala Rig, on the outskirts of the town.

It was supposedly in the church at Selkirk, supported by nobles and clergy, that William Wallace was declared Guardian of the Kingdom of Scotland. However this is disputed; the old lands of Mauldslie near Rosebank are also reputed to be where Wallace was declared Guardian. Mauldslie Castle was built on the lands of Forest Kirk.

Selkirk men fought with Wallace at Stirling Brig and Falkirk, and also with Robert the Bruce at Bannockburn, but it is Selkirk’s connection with the Battle of Flodden in 1513, her response to the call of the King, the brave bearing of her representatives on the fatal field, and the tragic return of the sole survivor, that provide the Royal Burgh with its proudest and most maudlin memories: the celebration of a five-hundred-year-old defeat. Only one man, “Fletcher”, returned from the battle, bearing a blood-stained English flag belonging to the Macclesfield regiment. On his return he cast the captured English standard around his head before falling to his death.

During the series of conflicts that would become known as the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, Selkirk played host the Royalist army of James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose, with his cavalry installed in the burgh, whilst the Royalist infantry were camped at the plain of Philiphaugh, below the town. On the morning of 13 September 1645, a covenanting army led by Sir David Leslie attacked the royalist forces camped at Philiphaugh (Battle of Philiphaugh), and a rout ensued. Montrose arrived to find his army in disarray and had to the flee the field, eventually leading to his exile. The action at Philiphaugh is infamous for the massacre by the Covenanters of up to 500 surrendered Royalist troops and camp followers — including many women and children.

Sir Walter Scott was appointed Sheriff-Depute of the County of Selkirk in 1799, and was based in the Royal Burgh’s courthouse in the town square. The Sir Walter Scott Way from Moffat to Cockburnspath passes through Selkirk.

© - Walter Baxter/cc-by-sa-2.0 Selkirk Bannock © Kim Traynor/cc-by-sa-3.0 Butchers Shop © - William Stafford/cc-by-sa-2.0 © - Walter Baxter/cc-by-sa-2.0 © - Walter Baxter/cc-by-sa-2.0 Haining House © - Adam D Hope/cc-by-sa-2.0
Butchers Shop © - William Stafford/cc-by-sa-2.0
The Selkirk Common Riding is a celebration of the history and traditions of the Royal and Ancient Burgh. Held on the second Friday after the first Monday in June, the ceremony is one of the oldest in the area, with 300-400 riders, Selkirk boasts one of the largest cavalcades of horses and riders in Europe. Selkirk still owns common land to the north and south of the town, but only the northern boundary of Linglie is ridden on the day. The Riding commemorates how, from the eighty men that left the town to fight in the Battle of Flodden, only one – Fletcher – returned, bearing a captured English flag. Legend has it that he cast the flag about his head to indicate that all the other men of Selkirk had been cut down. At the climax of the day the Royal Burgh Standard Bearer and Crafts and Associations Standard Bearers cast their colours in Selkirk’s ancient market place.

The Standard Bearer is chosen from the eligible unmarried young men of the town who have applied for the post by the trustees of the Common Riding Trust, successors to the old Selkirk Town Council which disappeared in the local government reorganisation in 1975. He will normally have served his time as an Attendant to previous Standard Bearers. He is introduced on Appointment Night, the last Friday in April. He is carried shoulder high round the town, accompanied by bands and the crowds of locals. There follow many civic duties in preparation for the main event, and participation in other town common ridings and festivities, including Spurs Night when the Standard Bearer and attendants meet the principals of Galashiels at Galafoot and receive a pair of spurs at a dinner in Galashiels.

The Saturday before Common Riding Day is marked with the annual Children’s Picnic, where primary schoolchildren have races. Sunday sees the inspection of The Rig, the town racecourse and Show Sunday, recently moved to the grounds of The Haining. Traditionally Souters would meet up in their new finery bought for the festivities and sing songs to the town bands. Other events include the Ex-Standard Bearers Dinner on Monday, and Ladies Night on Wednesday when the female population take over the bars and clubs for the evening and only the bravest males venture out. Various bussing concerts and dinners are held for the Crafts and Associations.

On Thursday evening the Senior Burgh Officer takes to the streets to “Cry the Burley”, giving notice that the marches are to be ridden the following day, naming the Burleymen (four ex standard bearers), the Burgh Standard Bearer and his attendants. His trek, accompanied by the bands, starts in the West Port, stopping in the Market Place, High Street, Back Row and South Port to read the proclamation, ending with the time honoured phrase “There will be all these, and a great many more, and all be ready to start at the sound of the Second Drum.” There follows the Bussing concert for the Incorporations of the Weavers and the Hammermen, in the Victoria Hall. This is followed by an act of remembrance when all available ex-Standard Bearers march to the statue of Fletcher outside the Victoria Hall. A wreath is placed on the statue by the chairman of the ex-Standard Bearers Association, and each ex-Standard bearer walks round the statue in order of the year they represented the town, earliest first. Then many hit the pubs and clubs to renew old friendships, for others it is off to bed in preparation for a full day ahead.

Before dawn, at 4.00 a.m., the Selkirk Flute Band begins the march around town, wakening in turn the Standard Bearer and Provost. There follows an Act of Remembrance by the Ex-Soldiers at the War Memorial at 5.30. The “First Drum” is struck at 6.00, the Silver Band play round the town and lead the singing of “Hail Smiling Morn”, alternating with the first verse of the hymn “Lead, Kindly Light”. The band stops off outside the County Hotel for a rendition of Exiles’ Song “Her Bright Smile” before continuing to the Victoria Halls for 06.30. Meanwhile, the riders assemble in the Back Row. At 06.45 there is the Installation of Standard Bearer and Bussin’ of Royal Burgh Flag on balcony of Victoria Hall. At this point, The procession forms and marches to Market Place awaiting the “Second Drum” at 07.00. The procession moves off ‘down the Green’ behind the Silver band playing “O’ a’ the airts” and the pipe band, along with the flags of the Incorporations and Guilds on foot. Then follows the Standard Bearer and his attendants and the mounted cavalcade behind. The traditional wish for all horseman is “Safe oot, Safe in”, wishing that all ride, and return safely. By 07.30 the riders begin to ford the River Ettrick and continue to Linglie Glen. The cavalcade reaches the summit of the Three Brethren cairns, the highest point of the ride; here they rest and the Standard Bearer and Attendants sing “Hail Smilin’ Morn” before remounting and continuing the ride. Back in Selkirk, the foot procession re-forms in Market Place and leaves for Shawburn Toll for community singing led by bands until the riders return at the gallop. The procession re-forms again and returns to Market Place via Bleachfield Road and High Street to the Market Square for the ceremony of the Casting of the Colours; In turn the Royal Burgh Standard Bearer followed by those of the Weavers, Merchants, Fleshers, Colonials, and ex soldiers cast their flags to the tune “Up wi’ the Souters”. The ex soldiers standard is dipped at the end of his performance, there follows a Two Minutes Silence to honour the towns War Dead, broken by the Silver band playing the haunting ballad “The Liltin”. The ceremonial ends with the Return of the Burgh Flag “unsullied and untarnished” by the Standard Bearer to the Provost. After lunch there is horse racing at the Rig, and the ball is held in the Victoria Halls. Saturday ends with “The Games” – gymkhana and professional foot racing at the towns Cricket Club.

The remains of the “forest kirk”, referred to in ancient times as the church of St Mary of the Forest, still stand in the old churchyard. William Wallace may have become Guardian of Scotland here, and it is also the final resting place of several relatives of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the USA. Roosevelt, whose ancestors came from the area, named his famous dog Fala, after Fala and the nearby village of Falahill. Just to the south of the town is The Haining, the late 18th-century residence of the Pringle family. In 2009 the last owner died, and left the house and grounds “for the benefit of the community of Selkirkshire and the wider public.” A charitable trust is now planning to restore the building as an art gallery.

Here you can find the complete Overview of all Theme Weeks.

Read more on – Selkirk and Wikipedia Selkirk. Learn more about the use of photos. To inform you about latest news most of the city, town or tourism websites offer a newsletter service and/or operate Facebook pages/Twitter accounts. In addition more and more destinations, tourist organizations and cultural institutions offer Apps for your Smart Phone or Tablet, to provide you with a mobile tourist guide (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State). If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.

Recommended posts:

Share this post:

The university town of Modena in Emilia-Romagna

The university town of Modena in Emilia-Romagna

[caption id="attachment_160853" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Palazzo Comunale (right) and Cathedral (left) © Hierakares[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Modena is a city and comune (municipality) on the south side of the Po Valley, in the Province of Modena in the Emilia-Romagna region. An ancient town, it is the seat of an archbishop, but is now best known as "the capital of engines", since the factories of the famous Italian sports car makers Ferrari, De Tomaso, Lamborghini, Pagani and Maserati are, or were, located here...

Scenic, Holiday and Theme Routes

Scenic, Holiday and Theme Routes

[caption id="attachment_2454" align="alignleft" width="220" caption="©"][/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]A scenic route is a specially designated road or waterway that travels through an area of natural or cultural beauty. A holiday route is a road which is marketed as particularly suited for tourists. Tourist highways may be formed when existing roads are promoted with traffic signs and advertising material. Some tourist highways such as the Blue Ridge Parkway are built especially for tourism purposes. Others m...

Reims, in the heart of Champagne

Reims, in the heart of Champagne

[caption id="attachment_160598" align="aligncenter" width="590"] City Hall © Fryderyk[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Reims, a city in the Champagne-Ardenne region of France, lies 129 km (80 mi) east-northeast of Paris. Founded by the Gauls, it became a major city during the period of the Roman Empire. Reims played a prominent ceremonial role in French monarchical history as the traditional site of the crowning of the kings of France. The Cathedral of Reims (damaged by the Germans during the First World War but restored since...

Dumbo in Brooklyn

Dumbo in Brooklyn

[caption id="attachment_193078" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Empire State Building framed by Manhattan Bridge, as seen from Washington Street © MusikAnimal/cc-by-sa-4.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Dumbo (short for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) is a neighborhood in the ...

Sopron in Hungary

Sopron in Hungary

[caption id="attachment_151246" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Main square © Michael Kargl/cc-by-sa-3.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Sopron is a city in Hungary on the Austrian border, near the Lake Neusiedl/Lake Fertő. Today, Sopron's economy immensely benefits from the European Union. Having been a city close to nowhere, that is, to the Iron Curtain, Sopron now has re-established full trade relations to nearby Austria. Furthermore, after being suppressed during the Cold War, Sopron's German-speaking culture and heritage are n...

The North Sea city of Wilhelmshaven

The North Sea city of Wilhelmshaven

[caption id="attachment_160627" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Welcome to Wilhelmshaven © Uwe Karwath[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Wilhelmshaven is a coastal town in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated on the western side of the Jade Bight, a bay of the North Sea. The Siebethsburg castle, built before 1383, was occupied by pirates and destroyed in 1433 by the Hanseatic League. Four centuries later, the Kingdom of Prussia planned a fleet and a harbour on the North Sea. In 1853, Prince Adalbert of Prussia arranged the Ja...

Return to Top ▲Return to Top ▲
Mellerstain House © - Steve Kent/cc-by-sa-2.0
Theme Week Scottish Borders

The Scottish Borders is one of 32 council areas of Scotland. It borders the City of Edinburgh, Dumfries and Galloway,...

© Koudkeu/cc-by-sa-4.0
Theme Week Corsica – Ajaccio

Ajaccio is a French commune, prefecture of the department of Corse-du-Sud, and head office of the Collectivité territoriale de Corse...

Castle Square © Adrian Grycuk/cc-by-sa-3.0-pl
Warsaw Old Town

The Warsaw Old Town is the oldest part of Warsaw, the capital city of Poland. It is bounded by the...