Horsing about

Riding the Marches looks like a lot of fun and I’m not surprised there is support in Edinburgh for reviving this ancient custom (your report, 9 September), but it seems an odd way to commemorate a disaster such as the Battle of Flodden.

There’s nobody quite like the Scots for reinventing their history, especially when it comes to injecting an element of fighting and warfare into everything.

Also, although the media loves to illustrate such stories with references to “riders” and pictures of photogenic horses, the word “riding” in this case, from Old Norse rythja, has nothing to do with horse riding and actually means checking and fixing for another year the bounds of the parish, making sure that the people of the neighbouring parish have not moved your march-stones, etc. The only genuine Riding of the Marches I have ever taken part in was in a little village in Germany at Martinmas in about 1978. It took place in the evening, so we carried coloured lanterns – and there wasn’t a horse in sight.

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Harry D Watson

Braehead Grove

Edinburgh