Musselburgh’s Riding of the Marches 2016 has officially launched with the introduction of the seven Principals, who will lead the pomp and pageantry of this historic event.
RoM2016 is one of the most ancient ceremonies in the UK. Although it is thought to date back to the 5th Century, it was first recorded in 1682. But as the first Musselburgh RoM of the 21st Century, this year’s festivities look forward to fresh changes as well as celebrating its rich history.
Now the Town Champion, Turf Cutter, Turf Cutter’s Assistant, two Squires and two Halberdiers have all been chosen, including Fiona Grant-MacDonald, the first ever woman to take a major role in the event, which is held once every 21 years.
All the Principals will take part in the official RoM ceremony, which is the central occasion in a week of celebration. This commemorates the marking of the ancient boundaries of the Burgh, and highlights the unique history and heritage of the Honest Toun of Musselburgh.
The party ride out under the close protection of the armour-clad town champion, and stop at 12 boundary stations around the town to cut a sod of turf and proclaim “it’s a' oor ain!'
Other Principals are Town Champion Neil Wilson, Turf Cutter Iain Clark, Squiers David Finlayson and Graham Bennet, and Halberdiers Scott Robertson and Alan Williams. All were chosen for their good work in the town.
The ceremonial aspect of the week-long event – which runs between between July 24-30 – also includes a huge procession, a pageant, an exhibition, a civic ball, a concert with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, as well as various sporting events, and entertainment for young and old. The week will conclude with a spectacular Lumiere at the mouth of the River Esk and a huge fireworks display.
Preparations for RoM2016 began at the end of 2014 with Hogmania, the largest family party in the county at the Brunton Hall, carried on into the next day with the first ever New Year’s Day Loony Dook at Fisherrow Harbour – repeated on 1st January this year. All of the town’s big tournaments and sporting events in 2015 were put on as part of the build-up, and this will continue throughout this year.
Artists from Musselburgh are also making their mark and as street art and yarn bombing are already popping up throughout the town. The highlight of this will be the Riding of the Marches Horse Parade, with ten life-sized model horses decorated mainly by school kids will appear at prominent positions.