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The Riding of the Marches & The Royal Burgh of Sanquhar

Saturday 10 July to Sunday 5 September 2010

This exhibition celebrates the centenary of the revival of Sanquhar Riding of the Marches by exploring the history and traditions of this annual custom.


The earliest reference to the Riding of the Marches is in a Town Council minute dated 15 May 1730, but the wording indicates that the custom was by then an established practice.  In those days of unfenced lands and only the most inadequate of boundary markings a periodic examination of the Marches was a necessary precaution against encroachments by neighbouring landowners on the property of the Burgh.


The Riding of the Marches appears to have ceased in 1829, but in 1910 the tradition was successfully revived, and the proceedings were very much as they have been ever since.  In 1914 the ceremony had to be abandoned because of the outbreak of the First World War. The Marches were again ridden in 1919, but the revival was not maintained. 1937 saw a renewed enthusiasm and that year’s Riding of the Marches and the two succeeding annual Ridings established the custom as the town’s Gala Day. The sequence was again broken by the Second World War, but it was reinstated in 1947 and the Riding of the Marches has appeared annually since then as a great day of pageantry and rejoicing.