Redeswire is the real deal, not a show put on for tourists, said the man behind Edinburgh’s Hogmanay and other national events attracting visitors from all over the world, last Saturday.
Callant Jack Fraser, aided by his Right and Left-Hand Men, Garry Ramsay and Iain Chisholm, led a 96-strong mounted cavalcade to the Redeswire Stane, near Carter Bar, to mark the bloody clash between Scots and English in July, 1575. And of those followers, 35 were undertaking the historic ride for the first time.
And, son of Jethart, Pete Irvine, who traces his ancestry back centuries in the town, gave the oration.
He told The Southern: “Although I left Jedburgh a long time ago, Jed has always stayed with me. Wherever I travel, however far I go, Jed is always with me. It has shaped me. What I tried to get across was that Redeswire is a very authentic event. It has integrity and elegance. It’s not (put on) for tourists.”
The event consultant to the Scottish Parliament and Hampden UEFA Champions League Final openings, and managing director of Unique Events, which staged the Bannockburn Live festival two weeks ago, told Saturday’s supporters: “I feel humbled and honoured to stand at this Stane. It’s impressive and soul-stirring to see the cavalcade coming towards us. This is authentic, living history: it’s as real today as when it started and comes with no fanfare or self-congratulation. It feels like home to be here and I feel very honoured to be asked.”
He told the assembled crowd how he followed on his bike and held horses as a youngster, attended school locally, before, aged 18, “my dad dragged me kicking and screaming to go to the university in Edinburgh”. He travelled the world before settling eventually in Edinburgh and, more than 20 years ago, started Hogmanay, now an international festival attended by over 100,000 last year.
He said: “Increasingly, in Scotland at least, we are engaging with our past and how it informs our lives now. We will not hate and be evermore suspicious of the English, and they will not dislike us. But one senses that these debates will continue for years to come.
“Perhaps a town 11 miles from the border should be uniquely placed to see both sides of the story. But when I was here, England seemed a long way away, as did Edinburgh. These gentle hills, the border or not, have always been a real divide.”
But, whatever the referendum vote, he was sure Jethart would honour history at Redeswire next year and for centuries to come.