© European Ethnological Research Centre, 2016.
Billy tells of some of events which take place in the build-up to the Langholm Common Riding.
MT-J: You’ve told me about the common riding day itself, but building up to the common riding are there other events or other things that happen? Can you tell us a wee bit about some o’ the other things that go on?
BY: Well the common riding itself is at the end of a period of two weeks build up. There are five provisional ride-outs before the common riding day itself which are organised by the Castle Craig’s Club. These are basically just where the local riders both men and women follow the cornet in a route round the countryside in and around Langholm. We have various what you would call ‘smokers’ and dinners. One o the strangest and the most unique is the banna testing, the banna testing is a smoker that’s organised by the cornet’s father on the Monday night before the common riding, and this dates back to the tradition where the cornet and his right and left hand men and his close friends went to to Jeannie Dunbar’s house in John Street to test the bannas that she had baked for the common riding day, they went to check that they were of a sufficient standard and of course obviously eventually toasts would be made to the cornet, and this has developed into this massive smoker that is held on the Monday night before the common riding which is…to be invited to the banna testing is a great honour. It’s an all male affair, needless to say! And there can be upwards of eighteen different speeches. But the quality of the speaking at the banna testing is probably second to none anywhere in the Borders.