1514-1914 Historical Pageant. Hawick Quater Centenary

Other names

  • Homecoming, Pageant and Common Riding, 1914.

Pageant type

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Place: Volunteer Park (Hawick) (Hawick, Scottish Borders, Scotland)

Year: 1914

Indoors/outdoors: Outdoors

Number of performances: 2


2–3 June 1914, 6pm.

Dress rehearsal on Monday 1 June; performances on Tuesday and Wednesday 2 & 3 June 1914; both performances started at 6pm and ran for 3 hours.

Name of pageant master and other named staff

  • Pageant Master: Murray, J.E.D.
  • Director of Music: Mr Adam Grant


Grant (1859-1938) was a piano teacher and the composer of many songs celebrating Hawick and its history. He is said to have 'contributed more than anyone else to Hawick's musical heritage'. See . He also owned a music shop in Hawick: there is an advertisement for this within the Book of Words stating that it was established in 1878. Within the advert many of Grant's songs and arrangements are described.

A listing of those involved with design and creation is included in the pageant book of words. This list is called ‘Properties, Flags, Banners Etc. (Designers, Makers and Painters)’, under this heading are the names of 10 men plus ‘the Pageant Master’ ; also, the names of 8 ‘Boys’ from two separate local schools named as ‘Buccleuch School’ and ‘Wilton School’.

The Pageant Master was a former 'Cornet' or standard bearer in the Hawick Common Riding of 1890, this important figure commemorates the original and unknown young man who is said to have carried back the English flag after success at the Battle of Hornshole [see Linked Occasion].

Names of executive committee or equivalent

Homecoming and Pageant General Committee:

  • Chairman: Provost Melrose.
  • Hon. Treasurer: A. Douglas Haddon* [*denotes also on pageant committee].
  • Hon. Secretary: James Edgar.
+ 19 further named members as follows:
  • Bailie Henderson
  • Judge Lawson
  • Ex-Bailie Scott
  • Ex-Bailie Dechan
  • Ex-Councillor Ker
  • Major. W.A. Innes* [*denotes also on pageant committee]
  • Dr W.T. Barrie*
  • Mr John G. Winning*
  • Mr Andrew R. Oliver
  • Mr A.H. Drummond
  • Mr J.E.D. Murray
  • Mr W.T. Grieve
  • Mr George L. McDonald
  • Mr Tom G. Winning*
  • Mr Thomas Whillens
  • Mr Adam Grant
  • Mr James Marshall
  • Mr Walter Hume
  • Mr William E. Kyle*

Pageant Committee:

Office Holders
  • Pageant Master: Mr J.E.D. Murray
  • Director Of Music: Mr Adam Grant
  • Hon. Treasurer: Mr A. Douglas Haddon
  • Hon. Secretary: Mr T.G. Winning
+ 28 further named members of Pageant Committee as follows:
  • J.P. Alison
  • Charles Arnot
  • Dr Barrie
  • James Barrie
  • James C. Bonsor
  • David Gilles
  • R. Halley
  • William Henderson jun.
  • Walter Hume
  • James Guthrie
  • John Inglis
  • Major W.A. Innes
  • Captain J. Fyfe-Jamieson
  • W.E. Kyle
  • Thomas McLellan
  • William Park senr.
  • John Park
  • Andrew Renwick
  • R.A. Russell
  • Robert Stirling
  • W.L. Thompson
  • J.S. Turner
  • Adam Turnbull
  • Andrew Turnbull
  • Robert Wilson
  • W.E. Wilson
  • John G. Winning.


There are no women on either of the main committees or named as involved with set making. However, also listed is a ‘Ladies’ Designing, Cutting-out and Sewing Committee’ made up of 102 women (79 unmarried and 23 married or widowed) but with no office holders. 2

The preponderance of particular surnames, which can be noted among committee members and in listings of performers, is, of course, characteristic of family affiliations within this rural locality. Notable also is that membership of the general committee contains many local politicians.

Names of script-writer(s) and other credited author(s)

  • Murray, J. E. D.
  • Winning, John G.
  • Ker, T.


  • Mr John G. Winning (Episode II).
  • Mr T. Ker (Episode VIII, and under the name of 'Teekay' a Poem/song ‘Welcome Home’ with 4 verses and a refrain.3).
  • The Book of Words states, ‘[E]xcept where otherwise noted, the Episodes, including Words of Songs, are by the PAGEANT MASTER.’ 4
  • In the poem by ‘Teekay’—verse 1 and the refrain are as follows:

‘Ye Callants who made choice afar to roam,
And wandered ‘way beyond our Borderland,
Whom fickle fortune led to make a home.
‘Mid northern snows, or on some eastern strand,
Who by Canadian lakes or pines have dwelt,
Or sheltered ‘neath the palms from southern sun
Or tarried long by desert, rand or veldt,
Are welcome to where the Teviot runs.
Then come ye sons and sires of Hawick
Maidens and matrons, come again—
Come gaily along
With the festive throng,
Take part once more
In the glad furore,
And join us in the old refrain.'5

This song was performed as part of the opening episode and underlines the theme of ‘Homecoming’; which was part of the Hawick Common Riding festival in 1914.

Names of composers

  • Grant, Adam

Numbers of performers


A rough overall estimate is 500+. Of this number, probably slightly under half are female (including female children). The numbers of children involved varies from scene to scene, but these were present in significant numbers.It is difficult to assess the number of performers using information in the Book of Words alone. The individual performers and members of specific choruses in each episode are named and listed, but there may be some duplication with persons appearing in several of the episodes that contain processions and crowd scenes where the performers are not identified. However, as an example, in Episode I (‘Prelude’) there are 12 named characters and 11 sections each consisting of many players and making the total number of performers in this episode 163. This number can be broken down into 71 women, 67 females playing ‘Father Time’s Children’ and so likely young girls, 20 ‘pages’ likely young boys and 5 adult male players. However, there is great variation: Episode III (Sir William Wallace etc.), for example, contains only 12 performers who were all male.

Financial information

Object of any funds raised

There does not appear to have been any fundraising element. In terms of financing the pageant, local goodwill appears to have been important. In the pageant Book of Words there is an acknowledgment which states:

The Pageant Master and Committee desire to express their thanks not only to those Performers and Workers in the foregoing lists, but also to all who have by donations of materials or subscriptions, or by their valued assistance in any way aided in the making of the Pageant.7

There is evidence that many performers paid for their own costumes to be made or hired.8

Linked occasion

1914 was the 400 year anniversary of the purported Battle of Hornshole (1514). Hornshole is a remote site about 2 miles from Hawick. The pageant was also part of an annual festival, the 'Common Riding', and in this particular year, the element of ‘Homecoming’ was also added [see Associated Events for further information].

Audience information

  • Grandstand: Yes
  • Grandstand capacity: 1800
  • Total audience: n/a


16 stands, labelled A to P, each with 112 seats; there were also some cheaper seats directly around the arena. A local newspaper report states that there was a, ‘vast concourse of interested spectators.’9

Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest


The stands were arranged around a central arena. Seats in the stands ranged from 1s. 6d. to 5s. The most expensive seats were directly south facing onto the arena and contained in two stands; those cheapest were either standing places directly surrounding the arena, which cost 1s., or, in the two furthest away stands on the west side of the arena where seats cost 1s. 6. The seats in four of the stands a little closer to the arena (both to the west and east sides) were priced at 2s, a further four stands similarly closely placed were priced at 2s. 6d. per ticket, a further four at 3s. each. On p.37 of the Book of Words there is an illustration of ‘The Plan of the Grand Stand'. The weather for all of the performances was ‘fine and bright’.10

Associated events

The Hawick historical pageant was part of larger festival which incorporated the annual 'Common Riding' and also in 1914, a 'Homecoming' welcome to overseas visitors. Common Ridings take place every year in several Borders towns during the summer months and ostensibly commemorate the tradition of 'riding the marches' or marking the periphery of a town's territory in order to secure right over the land for its owners and inhabitants. The Hawick Ridings traditionally begin this series of similar local events and take place in early June. Over time, as firmer boundaries and greater security were established, the Ridings became more a matter of local custom and ceremony and the increasingly elaborate set of conventions and rituals that developed for the practice both commemorated events in the past and acquired a new set of symbolic meanings largely concerned with ensuring continuity of local identity. In the particular case of Hawick, the Ridings developed to celebrate the reputed capturing of the English flag by the youth of the town at Hornshole in 1514. The year 1914 was therefore a significant anniversary. In this centenary year, a programme ran from the evening of Thursday 28 May until the afternoon of Saturday 6 June 1914; with the pageant, taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday 2 and 3 June. Each day had at least one event with the most packed day being Friday 5 June when the first of two ride outs took place. Highlights included:
Saturday 30th May—at 7.30pm there was a 'Public Welcome to Overseas Visitors in Exchange Hall.'

There were 3 church services:

  • On Sunday 31 May 11am a service was held 'in St Mary's Parish Church attended by the Provost, Magistrates, and Town Council.' 
  • On same date and at the same time, there was another service held by St George's United Free Church intriguingly called the 'Kirking of the Cornet'. This is part of the ceremonials of the Hawick Common Riding and traditionally takes place in the place of worship to which that year's 'Cornet' is affiliated. The U.F. church itself was under building work at the time so the service actually took place in Hawick Exchange Hall.
  • Later in the day at 3 pm, an open-air service was held in St Mary's Church Yard, which celebrated the 700th anniversary of the consecration of the church. A provision was made in the timetable that should the 'weather prove unfavourable', this service too would take place in Exchange Hall.
  • The races continued on the final day and more games were held in the park. However, there does not appear to have been any obvious finale to the whole festival.

Pageant outline

Episode I. Prelude

There is no description for this in the Book of Words and it is presumed to have consisted of a procession and tableau presenting the following characters and groups of characters as follows:

Queen of the Borderland
Queen Spirit of Mist
Queen Spirit of Mountains
Queen Spirit of Woodlands
Queen Spirit of Fountains
Queen of the Fairies
Spirit of Romance
The Spirit of Peace
The Three Graces

These are all played by women and in the list of performers’ names all have the title ‘Miss’. A song called ‘Hail, Borderland’ terminated the episode. 12 The lyrics for this piece along with what appears to be some simple musical notation are included in the Book of Words.13

Episode II. The Romans and Druids

In the introduction to this episode within the Book of Words there is mention of the Druidical heritage of the locality, the unsure case of whether the Romans did ever alight in Hawick, and local places mentioned in the episode’s setting such as ‘the Auld Ca’ Knowe’. This site is said to be ‘well known in Hawick story’ and is also a significant location in the Ridings.

The Episode opens with a scene at Hawick Moat into which Druids, led by the Arch-Druid, together with 'Natives' all process. All are described as wearing ‘chaplets of oak leaves and joyfully chanting’ a verse which rejoices in the local countryside and its customs.14

Thereafter some dishevelled ‘natives’ arrive on the scene. The ‘First Native’ narrates that when worshiping the sun god earlier that day oncoming Roman troops had been spotted: these are described as ‘wolves of the oppressor Rome’ and responsible for slaying many priests, women and children. At this, Agricola and soldiers appear and launch an attack on the Druids during which battle the Arch-Druid is killed, but not before he gets to speak some words of prophecy that presage Christian belief in life after death:

Episode III. Visit Of Sir William Wallace To Langlands, c. 1297

The narrative in this episode commemorates Wallace's alleged visit to the Borders, said in local tradition to have been 'for the purpose of conferring 'with the Laird of the historic Border estate of 'Langlands'.15 The episode details a meeting between the owner of Langlands (de Longueville) and Wallace who arrives accompanied by eight 'Squires and Attendants'. There is a further named character—Douglas of Drumlanrig—another local Laird who arrives to pledge allegiance to Wallace and a 'messenger' who announces Wallace's arrival. The scene ends with Wallace's departure whereupon he makes a patriotic proclamation:

While Scotland needs
My heart, my sword, my life lie at her feet,
Hers and hers only...

Episode IV. Old Hawick in 1513

This episode contains the biggest number of characters and lengthiest dialogue of all; it features men, women and children.

The episode opens with 'Father Time' and a large number of children processing and carrying 'Bannerettes' that proclaim 'To Arms 1513’; after the procession retires, the character of 'Kit' enters together with his 'group'. The format thereafter of this particular episode is a succession of such scenes wherein some kind of conversation takes place amongst a specific group. In some of the scenes, a named character leads the group. Each group is meant to be representative of an aspect of everyday life and work in the town. For example, there is a 'women and children's group' and groups of 'Harvesters' and of 'Basketmakers'. Some scenes contain both male and female characters. The dialogues are conducted in a local variation of the Scots' language. Some contain humorous skits. In a scene featuring the 'Girls' Group' there is also dance in the form of Morris dancing and country dance. In each conversational scene, the coming of war features in dialogue until, within the last of these (the Water Carrier's Conversation), the 'Herald of the King' arrives on horseback along with a group of retainers and proceeds to read a proclamation calling on all men to take up arms against England.

The King's messenger then requests a horseman to accompany and act as a guide on his and the retainers' onward journey to the home of the Laird of Buccleuch. A local Bailie informs the messenger that the town does not have a horse that could keep pace with those of the King's men; however, it can offer a local man who is swift on his feet (Steenie Speedy). The episode ends with the Bailies rallying the town for war and the subsequent departure of an expedition.

Episode V. The Wail of Flodden, 1513

The scene opens with the townspeople going about their domestic duties but on the lookout for men returning from the Battle of Flodden. Three named 'callants' then appear 'yelling "Hy, Hy, Hy!"’ These are the remnants of the battle. A procession then takes place in which there are 'demonstrations of despair and anguish'. This episode is described on a single page of the Book of Words and consists of a short explanation of the scene under which is printed a song. It is presumed the song closes the episode.

The chorus of the song ran as follows:

Oh love that winna dee
Like ma laddie on the lea
for his ain countree
Oh Flodden field, Oh Flodden field,
Ma heart is wae for thee.

Episode VI. Callants Leave for Hornshole, 1514

This part of the pageant continues the tale of the town in the wake of Flodden and features some of the same characters that appeared in Episode IV. It opens with the town crier reading a proclamation to the effect that further public mourning for the slaughter at the battle 'will be severely punished'. Furthermore, all 'who are capable are to practice warlike exercises'. Onto a scene where local men are thus practicing arrives the 'Miller of Trow': he tells all how his mill and home have been raised to the ground. His narrative, again in local dialect, is punctuated by statements from the townspeople who act as a chorus.

This is a short episode; it ends with elderly men, women and children preparing to flee the town to escape the encroaching English forces. A local newspaper review describes that nonetheless, ‘youthful; ardour prevails and with shouts of “vengeance now or never” Hawick Callants prepare for war.’16

Episode VII. The Triumphal Procession of the Victors of Hornshole

There is no description of this scene in the Book of Words. In the list of performers, the 'Miller of Trow' is the only featured character of the episode. However a newspaper review states that the procession is headed by the drum and fife band followed by ‘Hawick’s first Cornet’. This part was played by ‘Mr George Wilson’ who was also the appointed Cornet for that year’s Common Riding; he appeared on horseback triumphantly carrying the English pennant. The procession is described as being ‘a truly striking picture’.17

Episode VIII. Hab O' Hawick, c. 1810

This local, possibly fictional character also appears in episodes V and VI, but in episode VIII he takes centre stage; notably the story told is retrospective and supposed to have taken place sometime before the death of James V. The narrative tells the story of how Hab, 'the heid man o' Hawick' being a 'man who liked to have his own way' snubs King James V when he is visiting the town. Hab is arrested thereafter and brought to Edinburgh. The tale ends happily however, with Hab making friends with the King, being granted a pardon and presented with the gift of a horse 'caparisoned in the style then prevailing'. There are two scenes, one set in Hawick and one at Holyrood. The latter features the cordial conversation between Hab and the King in which Hab describes the hardships experienced in Hawick because of border raiders. The dialogue is again written in a local variant of Scots and contains 19 performers including Hab and the King. This episode may be based on a local oral legend, but is also recorded in a popular history published in 1825.18

Episode IX. Mary Queen of Scots En Route to Hermitage and the Border Chiefs

Beyond the title, there is no further description for this episode in the Book of Words; it is presumed to have been a processional tableau featuring the characters of the title and carrying no dialogue. A review of the pageant in the Scotsman portrays this episode as an 'imposing spectacle' wherein Mary's entourage encounter the Border Chiefs on horseback who troop to the 'strains of March, March, Etterick and Teviotdale'.19 In the list of performers a Miss D.M. Watson plays Mary Queen of Scots and there are 4 performing groups: ‘Attendants’ (7 women) ‘Border Chiefs’ (16 men), ‘Troupe of Dancers’ (22 women) and ‘Morris Dancers’ (listing unclear but around 16 women) making approximately 61 performers in all in this scene.20

Episode X. Grand Modern Finale, Combined with the Massed Historical Episodes

A large procession masses in the arena and the 'Final Invocation' is sung by them; for this, the '[a]udience, as well as Performers’ were requested to join in the singing.'21 The lyrics of the song praise god and are hymn-like e.g. the first line is 'Hail great and glorious Power, God of E-ter-ni-ty'. Nonetheless, it was commissioned specifically for the pageant: the initials of the Pageant Master and Director of Music are printed beneath the lyrics within the Book of Words.22

Key historical figures mentioned

Julius Agricola, Gnaeus [known as Agricola] (AD 40–93) Roman governor of Britain
Wallace, Sir William (d. 1305) patriot and guardian of Scotland
James V (1512–1542) king of Scots
Mary [Mary Stewart] (1542–1587) queen of Scots
Scott, Sir Walter (1771–1832) poet and novelist
Hary [Harry; called Blind Hary] (b. c.1440, d. in or after 1492) poet

Musical production

The local 'Saxhorn Band'(brass band) and a drum and fife band are mentioned. Traditional tunes were used, although full details of these are not available. It is likely that the songs described in the synopses of episodes were all commissioned for the pageant, certainly, the final song was written by the pageant master with music by the pageant’s musical director.

Newspaper coverage of pageant

The Hawick News and Scottish Border Chronicle.
The Hawick Express.
The Southern Reporter:
The Scotsman.

Book of words

1514-1914 Historical Pageant. Hawick Quater Centenary. Book of Words with List of Performers, Plan of Stands &c. &c (Hawick, 1914)

Copies in National Library of Scotland printed collections and in the Borders Local History Centre, Hawick. This souvenir programme was the only pageant-related publication issued in advance of the event and is a booklet with paper covers. Its content encompasses a description of the episodes, extracts from the script, and also lists the performers and organisers. It was printed by a local firm named ‘James Edgar, Printer, 5 High Street, Hawick’. The cost of the booklet was modest at sixpence (this information described on front cover). It contains about 50 pages: 39 of the pages are of programme information and are numbered. The other pages as well as the inside of front and back covers carry advertisements for local retailers: these consist of a range of local businesses including a laundry service, tobacconists, hotels, a café, a dispensing chemist, a picture framer, ladies outfitters, a haberdasher, and a bookshop. This souvenir publication was reprinted after the pageant (and following the unveiling of a commemorative statue in Hawick town centre) in an enlarged format (A5 size); this later edition contained photographs of the performance and extracts from coverage of the pageant in a local newspaper.

Other primary published materials

  • Hawick Quater Centenary—Historical Pageant and Home-Coming, Unveiling of the 1514 Memorial, Souvenir Edition (Hawick, 1914).

This was a larger and more elaborate edition of the Book of Words which contained more illustrations and which was published after the event. It cost 1/- as opposed to the 6d of the original souvenir. Copies are available in Hawick Public Library and Border Local History Centre.

References in secondary literature


The local history centre holds some recorded oral life histories and there may be brief mentions of the pageant in a couple of these.

Archival holdings connected to pageant

  • Hawick Public Library.
  • Borders Local History Centre, Hawick.
  • National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh.

Sources used in preparation of pageant

  • Walter Scott, Lay of the Last Minstrel (1805).

Referred to briefly in the introduction to Episode II in the Book of Words. Blind Harry is similarly referred to for Episode III.


The inhabitants of Scottish Border towns have long been assiduous in promoting their own regional identity through cultural demonstrations of their distinctive past known as ‘Common Ridings’ [see Associated Events]. Although these annual festivities have continuously acquired many new accretions and embellishments, which often go on to become regular fixtures, the Hawick pageant that took place as part of the Common Ridings week in 1914 was a one-off event.23 It is evident that local politicians who were prominent on the pageant committees used the occasion of a centenary year to extend the remit of the town’s usual summer festivities, perhaps for a variety of reasons. These may have included an attempt to outshine similar celebrations in the nearby town of Selkirk in 1913, an encouragement to those who had left the town to return and, or, encouraged by the anniversary of a singular local event, a desire to present a larger-scale showcase of local history at a time when the distinctive identity of the Borders had ceased to be so prominent in general cultural representations of Scotland. It is only possible to speculate on the relative merits of each of these possible determining factors for staging the pageant, but it is feasible all were involved to some degree. What is certain however is that the pageant aimed to stimulate the involvement of the widest possible array of local people and organisations and was without doubt paying special homage to local historical lore. Both the main author and pageant master for the event and individual authors of specific episodes and musical pieces were well-known Hawick men of the time, and, as the example of the pageant finale shows, a significant proportion of the population in the town are likely to have had some small part to play in the spectacle.

The pageant was first mooted by the Hawick Callants Club. Established in 1904 with the specific remit of preserving the town’s unique heritage, this group of enthusiasts took forward preparations for a historical pageant as early as 1912. It is known that Murray, the Hawick pageant master and a founder member of the Callants club, visited the Scarborough pageant in July of 1912 and reported back his views on this.24 Following his visit, Murray commented that Hawick proposed ‘going exactly on the same lines as pageants in England of a more pretentious nature’ and that they aimed to produce a pageant that would not be ‘chapter and verse’ but instead a fair representation of what ‘actually took place’.25 This was perhaps a careful way of stating that the Hawick pageant would include locally important history but not depictions that were necessarily weighted down with historical fact. Neither was it an event that required patronage from the aristocratic great and good. The lists of committee members for the Hawick pageant are replete with a middle-class cabal of local councillors, small businessmen and professionals.

Although many narrative hallmarks of the early years of British historical pageantry are evident, notably the inclusion of Druids and the conflict between native British tribes and invading Romans, the Hawick pageant’s outstanding characteristic is a close concentration on one prominent local legend concerning a fight that allegedly took place in 1514, the year after the famous defeat of the Scots at Flodden. This encounter at an isolated place called Hornshole, which is two miles outside of Hawick, had been incorporated into the performance of the annual Hawick Common Ridings since at least the early eighteenth century and indeed, by the nineteenth century, it hogged most of the limelight within its ceremonials. The story, which has been passed down through generations, is that in a guerrilla-style manoeuvre some of the youths of Hawick, either battle-scarred survivors or those who had been too young to be involved at Flodden, executed a night-time attack on English troops camped some two miles from the town. They trounced the English and captured their flag. To this extent, the central storyline of the Hawick pageant was merely a complementary part of the usual Common Riding festival. However, the year 1914 provided a notable anniversary, being the ‘quater-centenary’ of Hornshole, and thus an opportunity to intensify the commemoration of an event that whether fact or fiction, had come to be important for the image of Hawick and central to the celebration of its heritage. Thus depiction of events in the years 1513-14 takes up four of the pageant’s ten episodes and most of its drama.

Hornshole is alleged to have occurred when Scotland was still traumatised by defeat, and this period of collective mourning is also prominent in the pageant’s narrative. For while the debacle of Flodden is often cited as a scar on the Scottish national psyche, it has particular currency for Scottish border towns not only because of their geographical proximity to England but also because a great many Borderers were involved as combatants on the Scottish side. Nonetheless, by the mid-nineteenth century, it was almost certainly local rivalries between Scottish Border towns rather than any continued antipathy towards the English that further excited interest in Flodden within this region. These neighbourly jealousies encouraged attempts to take particular historical ownership of Flodden through the development of ever more elaborate commemorative rituals which were incorporated within each town’s common riding festivals.26 Notably, in the summer of 1913, the town of Selkirk had enlarged its common riding to celebrate the 400th year anniversary of Flodden itself and commemorate a similar local legend to that of Hawick’s concerning a Selkirk youth returning from Flodden field as the lone survivor of all the townsmen who had fought on the Scottish side. It is likely that Hawick decided to go a step further with an even more spectacular celebration of its local past and the pageant was planned for at least two years in advance of the centenary.

Nevertheless, though the narrative of the Hawick pageant places emphasis on past disputes with the English, this does not translate into any potentially troublesome contemporary intra-nationalist conflict. From episode III, which concerns that stalwart of Scottish pageants and of nationalist sentiment, William Wallace, and throughout the retelling of Flodden and Hornshole in episodes IV to VII, the residents of Hawick are depicted as clearly on the Scottish side, both geographically and historically. Yet in keeping with the unionist agenda that had become attached to commemoration of Flodden by the early twentieth century, there is no overt Scottish chauvinism in the script, and certainly no bloody war cries against the English as a nation.27 Indeed more ire is aimed at the Romans than against the English! Any nationalist vengeance for Flodden that may have been embroiled in a foolhardy excursion by inexperienced youths is not referred to and instead this encounter is depicted as being all about protecting the town and presented to show the stalwartness and bravery of the Hawick townspeople. The integration in Episode IV of a Morris Dance, which is succeeded by a Scottish ‘country-dance’, is a further good illustration of the pageant narrative’s overall achievement in creating a cultural and ethnic entente cordiale in spite of past enmities. In addition, perhaps unsurprisingly, the period covered by the pageant stops well short of the Union of Crowns in 1606 and the final episode concerning Mary Queen of Scots takes place without dialogue.

In addition to the pageant, a ‘Homecoming’ element was also a prominent addition in this anniversary year. In recent decades, the idea that those born in Hawick who have left the town should return to celebrate the common riding has grown, but it is unclear whether this element of tradition started emphatically with the 1914 anniversary or slightly predated this: it does seem likely however that the centenary acted strongly to promote it. Following several decades of spectacular growth, from the late nineteenth century onwards, emigration to other parts of the UK and overseas to North America and Australasia from this locality was high amongst farming and textile workers creating a new pattern of population shrinkage. The 1911 census report on population in Scotland’s counties records a 3.3 per cent loss of population across the county of Roxburghshire over the preceding ten years.28 This decline was keenly felt in small Borders’ communities who actively maintained links with émigré societies. The week of centenary festivities was launched with a special reception for over 160 overseas visitors.29 This does prompt the thought that the addition of the pageant may have been an attempt to educate or at least remind these exiles about Hawick’s singular history and to spread awareness of the uniqueness of this place to contemporary outposts of empire. For it is fair to say that despite the renowned efforts of the national and international literary hero Walter Scott, by the early twentieth century the Borders region tended to be eclipsed by the Highlands as a site of romantic histories of Scotland. Given Victorian fascination with Britain’s most northern territory that was successfully popularised by the Queen herself, the arguably equally dramatic and remote landscape of the Borders had gradually became marginalised in the larger national story both at home in the United Kingdom, including the rest of Scotland, and across the British colonies among those who continued to look upon Britain as ‘home’.

In this centenary year, the pageant was an exceptional celebratory addition to the common riding festival, and although it was well-planned and designed to be memorable for its many visiting spectators and was lavish in comparison with the town’s size, it appears to have received little publicity beyond the Borders. Only a single review appeared in the Scottish national press where it was nonetheless described as 'an unqualified success’.30 Despite such it was never repeated. In a town where local history is celebrated on an annual basis this may seem surprising; but timing is all, and there is undoubted poignancy in the fact that the Hawick pageant’s celebration of its martial past took place only a few months before the outbreak of World War One.


  1. ^ Both committees enumerated in Book of Words, 34.
  2. ^ Book of Words, 35.
  3. ^ See Book of Words, 2, for poem. Teekay was the pseudonym of Thomas Ker (1856-1932). Ker was the founder member and first chairman of the Hawick Callants Club, formed in 1904 in order to celebrate the history and preserve the heritage of the town, and also a former Town Councillor in Hawick. He was a regular contributor of verse to the local press. See http://www.hawicklittletheatre.fsnet.co.uk/lodge_bards.htm
  4. ^ Book of Words, 3.
  5. ^ Book of Words, 2 .
  6. ^ For listings of performers see Book of Words, 31-33.
  7. ^ Book of Words , 36.
  8. ^ ‘The” Homecoming”and the Pageant’, The Southern Reporter, 15 January 1914, 3.
  9. ^ See ‘Grand Historical Pageant’ in extracts from the Hawick Express reprinted in Hawick Quater Centenary—Historical Pageant and Home-Coming, Unveiling of the 1514 Memorial, Souvenir Edition (Hawick, 1914)., no date, 54.
  10. ^ ‘Hawick Historical Pageant: memories of Flodden Quarter Centenary of Hornshole Victory', The Scotsman, 3 June 1914, 10.
  11. ^ Timetable in Book of Words, 38-9.
  12. ^ ‘Hawick Historical Pageant’, The Scotsman, 3 June 1914, 10.
  13. ^ Book of Words, 4.
  14. ^ Book of Words, 6; an article in the Scotsman describes then as 'all dressed in white' see 13 June 1914, 10.
  15. ^ The introduction to the episode contained in the Book of Words, 9, states that Langlands was at the time of the pageant known as 'Wilton Lodge' and in use as a public park.
  16. ^ ‘Grand Historical Pageant’ from the Hawick Express; reproduced in Hawick Quater Centenary—Historical Pageant and Home-Coming, 56
  17. ^ ‘Grand Historical Pageant’, 56.
  18. ^ Robert Wilson, A Sketch of the History of Hawick Including Some Account of the Manners and Habits of the Inhabitants (Hawick, 1825), 61-66. In this account Wilson states that Hab was the familiar name given to a well-known ‘Diogenes’ in Hawick called Robert Oliver.
  19. ^ The Scotsman, 3 June 1914, 10.
  20. ^ Book of Words, 33.
  21. ^ Book of Words , 30.
  22. ^ See http://www.hawickcallantsclub.co.uk/cr/19-songs.html. The website of the Callants Club in Hawick states that the song was composed by ' J.E.D. Murray and Adam Grant' specifically for the pageant and the song was accompanied by the local Saxhorn Band; it is still sung at the closing of the ceremonial part of the Hawick Common Riding.
  23. ^ An article in 1935 reported that a historical pageant had been suggested, to be held in 1937 in Hawick; however the event did not come to pass. See The Border Magazine, September 1935, 143.
  24. ^ ‘ Hawick Callants’ Club’, The Southern Reporter, 14 November 1912, 3.
  25. ^ ‘The” Homecoming”and the Pageant’, The Southern Reporter 15th January 1914, 3.
  26. ^ See Katie Stevenson and Gordon Pentland, ‘The Battle of Flodden and its Commemoration, 1513-2013’ in England and Scotland at War, c. 1296-c.1513, ed. Andy King and David Simpkin, (Leiden, 2012), 255-89.
  27. ^ For discussion of Flodden’s role as a unionist-nationalist lynchpin see, Paul Readman, ‘Living in a British Borderland: Northumberland and the Scottish Borders in the Long Nineteenth Century’ in Borderlands in World History, 1700-1914, ed. Paul Readman, Cynthia Radding, and Chad Bryant (Basingstoke, 2014), 182-4.
  28. ^ See 1911 Census of Scotland. Preliminary Report on the Twelfth Census of Scotland, 1911, lxxi (Cd.5700) 665. Available at: http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/census/SRC_P/4/S1911PRE
  29. ^ There is a list of names in the 2nd edition of the souvenir book; see Hawick Quater Centenary—Historical Pageant and Home-Coming, 39-41.
  30. ^ The Scotsman; 3 June 1914, 10.

How to cite this entry

Angela Bartie, Linda Fleming, Mark Freeman, Tom Hulme, Alex Hutton, Paul Readman, ‘1514-1914 Historical Pageant. Hawick Quater Centenary’, The Redress of the Past, http://www.historicalpageants.ac.uk/pageants/1090/