City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh Riding of the Marches


By edg - Posted on 31 August 2016

Riding of the Marches
Event details
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The Edinburgh Riding of the Marches is a traditional event that sees over 250 horseback riders riding en masse from the outskirts of Edinburgh to the High Street in the city centre. There are limited spaces for riders, but spectators can watch the procession of equestrians as they ride up the High Street from Holyrood House to the Mercat Cross, between 3.40pm-3.55pm. There are bands at the High Street from 2pm.

The Edinburgh Riding of the Marches was first recorded in 1579, although the tradition is believed to have continued since King David I granted Edinburgh its common land in 1143 around the time of the formation of Holyrood Abbey. Riders rode to the corners of the city's common land until 1718.

There was a one-off event to mark the end of the war in 1946. In 2009, the tradition of riding the marches was reintroduced as part of the Homecoming Scotland celebrations and has continued each year since then.

The ride sets off at 9.30am from Todhills, Old Dalkeith Road marking the Southern most boundary of the City Of Edinburgh.

With a cavalcade of some 250 horses, crossing private as well as public land, the organising body the Edinburgh March Riding Association (EMRA) has had to take a more flexible approach than in previous eras. Route organisers try to cross as much countryside as possible.

The procession ends with the equestrians riding up the Royal Mile to the Mercat Cross opposite Edinburgh City Chambers, where a declaration is made to the Lord Provost (this is around 3.55pm).

The Riding of the Marches is led by the Edinburgh Captain and Edinburgh Lass (introduced in 2011). For the purposes of inspecting the Marches the Captain is entrusted by the Lord Provost with the City Of Edinburgh Banner.

There are usually festivities in a local hostelry after the ride, during which the traditional singing of "Town Songs" takes place.