Letter: History backs women riders

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The Independent Online
Sir: Steve Boggan's report ("Riding roughshod over tradition", 7 December) on Hawick's Common Riding notes that women were allowed to ride until 1932.

If the Common-Riding Committee of Hawick think that they are preserving an all-male tradition, history tells us otherwise. Women were visible in these ceremonial ridings from earlier times. Women who were landowners in their own right or the widows of propertied men could participate in the annual marking of the town, village or parish boundaries.

It did not matter whether this was a town in the Scottish Borders or a parish in the City of London - boundaries had to be protected against interlopers.

In 1602 the "riding of the commonty of Innerwick" in East Lothian was led by no less a person than Dame Christian Douglas (Lady Home).

Dr MAUREEN M MEIKLE.

Senior Lecturer in History,

University of Sunderland

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