Looking back over the highlights of 2019’s Hawick Common Riding immediately afterwards, Connor enthused about having been given the honour of cutting a ceremonial sod of earth at the Ca’ Knowe, south of the town.
“Cutting the sod – it’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance, and I want to enjoy and savour it,” he told the Southern.
It’s now turned out to be a twice-in-a-life opportunity, however, as the 25-year-old was called back to the southernmost edge of Hawick Common to perform that traditional sod-cutting ceremony all over again to observe tradition in the absence of a common riding this year due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
Having been instructed by event committee chairman John Hogg to walk Hawick’s marches and presented with a ceremonial spade, Connor, accompanied by acting father Alistair Crawford, wet it in the town’s cobble pool, replicating the dipping of the flag normally carried out upon returning from Hawick Moor on the Friday of each common riding.
They then followed the traditional route, via Williestruther and Acreknowe, to the Ca’ Knowe to dig up a sod of earth.
Giving an oration there, Mr Crawford said: “The riding of the boundary and the cutting of the sod is the cornet’s most important duty each common riding.
“This ancient ceremony has been carried out for hundreds of years and, although we do not carry weapons to fight off marauders or quirky lairds, we still mark our boundaries as a symbol of respect to our predecessors.
“In these unprecedented times of the Covid pandemic and no common riding 2020 being held, this ancient ceremony nevertheless prevails.”
This summer was only the fourth time since 1703 that Hawick Common Riding had had to be cancelled or curtailed, the previous occasions being during the first and second world wars and 2001’s foot-and-mouth disease outbreak.