Annan Riding of the Marches (RoM)
History of the Traditional Scottish Event
Annan Riding of the Marches (ROM) can claim to be one of the largest and oldest historic traditional ceremonies in South West Scotland.
The event draws significant media attention from press, radio and local TV. The ROM calendar of fundraising events runs throughout the year in order to finance the annual celebrations.
The fortnight of events culminates on the "First Saturday of July".
On that morning as the Annan Town Clock chimes 8-o-clock the Annan Cornet and his Lass lead a cavalcade of riders out of the town round the burgh boundaries, the traditional words "Safe Oot, Safe In" ringing in their ears. They will be forging the latest link in a chain of tradition dating back almost 700 years.
In those days, their forefathers were forced by grim necessity to check the town’s boundaries (or marches) to ensure that its landmarks (crosses, cairns, wells and even streams) had not been removed or tampered with by English marauders. Their aim was to ensure that the burgh boundaries were maintained in good order.
Stops around the 15 mile boundary are nowadays regarded as a mere respite for horses and riders, but were once essential steps in the security of the boundaries although nowadays they are part of the ancient tradition.
One instance is the "Hole in the Hedge" ceremony at Landheads. In olden times Willie Crone’s Smithy stood where the hedge now is, and it is claimed that when the Smithy was in its heyday, a boy was pushed through its window to look out for approaching marauders. Each year a different local boy is chosen to be ‘skelped’ through the hedge to mark both the site and the tradition.
The Burgh Snuffbox is also passed around at this time – presented to the Burgh of Annan in 1807 by Brigadier General Dirom, the principal’s practice of taking a measure of snuff has been an essential part of the tradition ever since.
Finally the cavalcade will circle around the Alter Stane in the channel in the Solway Firth (the most southerly part of the Marches), before returning with the Burgh Standard to take part in the traditional horse chases on the banks of the River Annan – a reminder of grimmer times when the men of Annan would physically chase reivers and invaders from their lands.
The Burgh Standard will have been shown at all points of Annan’s ancient boundaries, the markers will have been checked, and hopefully, all will be well !!!
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