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SELKIRK, UNITED KINGDOM. - 15 / June / 2012 : 'Selkirk Common Riding'Friday Morning''(Photo by  Rob Gray / digitalpic / Freelance / � 2012)'Single UK Use; No Resale; Fee payable on Publication;
SELKIRK, UNITED KINGDOM. - 15 / June / 2012 : 'Selkirk Common Riding'Friday Morning''(Photo by Rob Gray / digitalpic / Freelance / � 2012)'Single UK Use; No Resale; Fee payable on Publication;

Of all the Border Common Ridings, the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Flodden will resonate deepest in Selkirk.

Next week, the Royal and Ancient Burgh will remember, as it has every year since the events of exactly 500 years ago, when 80 Souters left thetown to fight for King James IV against the English on Flodden Field.

SELKIRK, UNITED KINGDOM. - 15 / June / 2012 : 'Selkirk Common Riding'Friday Morning''(Photo by  Rob Gray / digitalpic / Freelance / � 2012)'Single UK Use; No Resale; Fee payable on Publication;

SELKIRK, UNITED KINGDOM. - 15 / June / 2012 : 'Selkirk Common Riding'Friday Morning''(Photo by Rob Gray / digitalpic / Freelance / � 2012)'Single UK Use; No Resale; Fee payable on Publication;

Only one man survived, Fletcher, bearing a captured English standard, which legends says he cast around his head to show the gathered womenfolk and children that all but one of their husbands, fathers, brothers and sons had been cut down in the slaughter.

The loss inspired the lilting lament ‘Flowers o’ the Forest’, and 500 years of tradition faithfully carried out every June, uniting a community in tribute to the fallen, and pride .

The big day starts literally at the crack of dawn when, at 4am, the Flute Band makes its way through the town to officially wake the Standard Bearer and the Provost.

This is followed by the Act of Remembrance at the town war memorial by local ex-soldiers, and at 6am the First Drum is sounded by the Silver Band.

With horses and riders starting to assemble in Back Row, all eyes and ears will be on the County Hotel as the traditional gathering of the Exiles takes place with a rendition of ‘Her Bright Smile’.

Just before 7am, the installation of the Standard Bearer takes place along with the Bussin’ o’ the Burgh Flag on the balcony of the Victoria Halls.

Then, the official procession forms with the organisations filling their designated slots and Souters and visitors alike linking arms for the march down The Green to the tune of ‘O’ a’ the Airts’. At 7.30am riders ford the River Ettrick, and the Standard Bearer leads the cavalcade of 300-400 riders on horseback up to the Three Brethren, as the foot procession winds its happy way back to the Market Place and breakfast.

Fed and watered, everyone gathers at The Toll at 9am to welcome the riders back after which the bands strike up with ‘Stirling Brig’ and ‘The Flo’ers o’ the Forest’ to lead the procession back into town. Everything builds to this one emotion-charged moment when the Royal Burgh Standard Bearer casts his flag to the strains of ‘Up wi’ the Souters o’ Selkirk’.

He is followed by the standard bearers representing the Hammermen, Weavers, Fleshers, The Colonial Society, Merchant Company and Ex-Soldiers.

There then follows a two-minute silence and the lament for Flodden and the return of the Burgh Flag ‘unsullied and untarnished’.

The handing back of the town’s flag to the town’s Honorary Provost David Anderson, “unsullied and untarnished”, brings to an end Martin Rodgerson’s big day shouldering his home town’s greatest honour.

A momentous, historical year in the long and glorious history of Selkirk Common Riding.