Edinburgh Riding of the Marches

Submitted by edg on Thu, 8 Sep '22 10.00am
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Time & place

Update: the Edinburgh Riding of the Marches planned for Sunday 11th September has been cancelled to allow for ceremonial arrangements in Edinburgh for Queen Elizabeth

The Edinburgh Riding of the Marches is a traditional event that sees around 280 horseback riders riding en masse from the outskirts of Edinburgh up the Royal Mile and through the city centre to end at King Stables Road.

  • 12:30pm: Entertainment on Royal Mile
  • 3.30pm: Ride up the Royal Mile
  • 3.55pm: Declaration to the Lord Provost

There are limited spaces for riders, but thousands of spectators line the roads to watch the procession of equestrians, in particular as they ride up the High Street from Holyrood House to the Mercat Cross, between 3.30pm-3.55pm.

Entertainment starts on the Royal Mile from 12.30pm: Alasdair Hutton (aka "Voice of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo") commentates the proceedings on the Royal Mile, with performances by St Ronan’s Silver Band, Erskine Stewart’s Melville School Pipe Band, George Heriot’s School Pipe Band and George Watson’s Pipe Band, as well as stunt performers.

You can find details of the route of the ride on the event website if you want to see it pass outwith the city centre. The ride sets off at 9.30am from the Old Caravan Park at 642 Old Dalkeith Road, marking the Southernmost boundary of the City Of Edinburgh. It ends at King Stables Road, just off the Grassmarket, at 4.45pm.

The Edinburgh Riding of the Marches was first recorded in 1579, although the tradition of inspecting the city boundaries 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 (bar pandemic years).

With a cavalcade of some 280 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 festivities in a local hostelry (Three Sisters) after the ride, during which the traditional singing of "Town Songs" takes place.