The debt we owe to the past and the importance of keeping alive memories and traditions were the main themes of this year’s address at the Redeswire Stane.
Some 87 riders followed Jethart Callant Gary Hogg to Redeswire on Saturday for the annual address given at the site of the skirmish between Scottish troops and an English force in July 1575 during a meeting between wardens.
The speech, part of the annual Jethart Callant’s Festival, was given from on top of the Redeswire Stane by Lt-Colonel Colin Hogg, a retired senior officer with the King’s Own Scottish Borderers and a current regimental trustee.
“What a wonderful sight it was seeing you all appear,” he said of the moment the mounted cavalcade led by Callant Hogg rode up towards the Carter Bar across the desolate surrounding moorland.
In his speech, the 68th, Lt-Col Hogg reminded all those assembled of the rich history of this part of the world, often recounted through poems and ballads.
Lt-Col Hogg said the Borders was steeped in history and tradition, exemplified by the region’s common ridings and festivals, and he recalled how the Jethart Callant’s Festival had first come into being shortly after the Second World War.
Lt-Col Hogg said the festival had been born after war veteran Tom Dryburgh told the 1946 Callants’ dinner that he hoped the near future would soon see the birth of a common riding or festival for Jedburgh similar to those enjoyed in other Border towns.
“He said there had been many suggestions on this subject, but what was required was action,” said Lt-Col Hogg.
“Tom was a man of action, as during the war his company was ordered to clear a village but got pinned down by enemy fire.
“With morale waning, the story goes that there was a sudden war cry of ‘Jethart’s here’ and Tom, riding the only available horse in the village, charged headlong down the street, braving sniper fire, with the eventual effect of scaring the enemy into submission.
“I am told that the Jethart men of that day began to discuss how they could commemorate this episode on returning home from the war.
“Action is what Tom and others got down to, as in 1947, the Callant’s Festival was born, with Tom holding the herald’s appointment from 1947 till 1949.”
And of the fray held so long ago on that spot – believed to be the last time that the bow and arrow was used as a fighting weapon in this country – Lt-Col Hogg said it was not recalled in any spirit of boasting “but, rather, how our forbears were ready to stand up in defence of their rights and liberties”.
“I encourage you to read books such as The Steel Bonnets, read our Border ballads, go and see Mary Queen of Scots’ House in Jedburgh and the armoured breastplate found on this very field of the Redeswire conflict,” he said.
“It is because of the spirit that our forefathers showed that we are the nation that we are today, and the great object of these Border festivals and common ridings is to help us keep alive the debt we owe to the past and keep alive its memories and traditions.
“Your festival is a tribute to the past and a challenge to the future.
“Callant Hogg, I wish you and those who ride with you every success.”