Review of Marches and Parades in Scotland
4 Traditions of processions in Scotland
4.1 This chapter looks at the very wide variety of marches and parades which take place in Scotland. My remit clearly covered all processions in Scotland and so my recommendations will affect all bodies which organise processions. This has informed me throughout my work and I invited views from a wide range of organisers and also met with representatives of several of them. I welcomed the constructive suggestions and positive approach that all organisations have brought to the Review based on their practical experiences of organising processions.
What is a march or a parade?
4.2 Organisations use different terminology for their processions. Some commonly used words include: cavalcades, commemorations, celebrations, demonstrations, festivals, kirkin', marches, parades, protests, rallies, remembrances, ridings and walks. Organisations also have different reasons for processions, for example: celebration, commemoration, marking traditions and community, or remembrance.
4.3 The administrative arrangements for all these processions are governed by the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 which covers all 'processions in public'. The definition in the legislation is 'a procession in public' is a 'procession in a public place'.
4.4 Dictionaries generally define 'a procession' as 'a line or a number of people or vehicles moving forward in an orderly or ceremonial manner'; 'a march' as 'an organised protest in which a group of people walk somewhere together'; 'a parade'; as 'ordered march or procession'; a demonstration as 'a march or public meeting to demonstrate opposition to something or support for something'; and 'a cavalcade' as 'a procession of people on horseback or vehicles'.
4.5 I do not intend to give a prescriptive definition of a procession. I think it is important that the term covers the full range of moving events that occur in public places throughout Scotland. Throughout my report I use the terms 'procession', 'march' and 'parade' almost interchangeably although I have tried to follow the legislation in its use of the term 'procession'.
4.6 My remit concentrated on processions and I have not looked in detail at public assemblies or static protest meetings. They are governed by provisions in the Public Order Act 1986. Under that legislation, organisers are not required to give advance notice. The police can impose conditions on assemblies on the same grounds as they can for processions. Those grounds are to prevent: serious public disorder; serious damage to property; serious disruption to the life of the community: or intimidation to others. A public assembly is defined as an assembly of 20 or more people in a public place wholly or partly open to the air. Public places include roads and places the public has access to, whether free or with payment of an entrance fee.
Marching and parading organisations in Scotland
4.7 A wide range of organisations is responsible for the 1,700 or so processions notified to local authorities every year (for more information on the numbers of processions see Chapter 7). Not all processions are notified as some of the more traditional events are treated as exempt from the requirement of advance notification (for more information on exempt organisations see Chapter 6 - Current Practices in Scotland). It is important to recognise the diversity of processions which take place in communities across Scotland reflecting our own traditions, history and culture. While they are diverse in nature, they also have some common features: they often take place at the same time, at the same place, in the same format each year; they are a celebration of tradition and culture; and they forge community spirit. They can also cause some sort of disruption and have an effect on the wider community. As one respondent put it, processions can be, ' noisy or disruptive or irritating and celebratory, engaging and fun'. However, they are a part of life in Scotland and my recommendations will affect all organisations which organise processions.
The Loyal Institutions: the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland, the Apprentice Boys of Derry and the Provincial Grand Black Chapter of Scotland
4.8 The statistics from local authorities detailing the numbers of notified parades taking place in their areas show that, in terms of volume, most are organised by the Loyalist Institutions, which are responsible for organising around 50% of all processions across Scotland (and around three quarters of processions which take place in the Strathclyde Police Force area).
4.9 There are, of course, many documents and academic research on the history of the Loyal Institutions, particularly the Orange Order but I thought it helpful here to highlight some of the key facts about the Loyal Institutions' history and development in Scotland. I have drawn heavily on publicly available information from 'Orangenet' ( www.orangenet.org) a website created to provide information about historical, cultural and religious aspects of the Order, from other websites of the Orange Order and from sites created by the Apprentice Boys of Derry. I have also drawn on work by Neil Jarman and Dominic Bryan about the history of the Loyal Institutions, particularly in Northern Ireland, as well as information in Sir Peter North's report, 'Independent Review of Parades and Marches'.
The Loyal Orange Institution - The Orange Order
The history of the Orange Order in Scotland
4.10 The Orange Order has been part of Scottish life for 200 years. The Loyal Orange Institution was formed in Ireland in 1795 after the Battle of the Diamond in County Armagh, when a group of Defenders (Roman Catholics) attacked a cottage owned by Dan Winter (a Protestant). The Loyal Orange Institution built on the traditions of the Protestant Volunteers. Its founding principles were loyalty to the Crown and to the Protestant religion. By 1796, The Belfast Newsletter estimated that the Order had 2,500 members and the Grand Orange Lodge was established to give the organisation a sense of coherence, uniformity and strength. The Order held its first parade commemorating the Battle of the Boyne in July 1796, although similar parades had been organised by other groups previously.
4.11 The Order in Scotland had a military foundation and was brought to Scotland by Scottish regiments which had fought in the Irish Rebellion of 1798. Some soldiers served in Ireland alongside members of the newly formed Orange Order. The regiments brought back lodge warrants with them. The first warrants were granted to the Breadalbane Fencibles and the Argyll Fencibles between March and May 1798. Around 12 other fencible regiments took out Orange warrants to hold Orange Lodges in their Regiments over the next few years, including the Ayr, Tay, Dumfries, North Lowland and Caithness Fencibles. Fencible Regiments were defence forces, raised during hostilities for the duration of the war only and were designed to liberate the regular army from the United Kingdom for service abroad, limited to home service unless members voted to go overseas.
4.12 It appears that the first civilian lodge was established in Maybole in 1808. By the late 1820s, there were 40 lodges established in Scotland mainly in Ayrshire, Glasgow and Galloway but as far north as Dundee, to the east at Dalkeith and Musselburgh as well as in Edinburgh. By the 1830s full Districts had been established at Airdrie, Dumfries, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Kilmarnock, Maybole, Paisley and Stranraer.
4.13 All these lodges came under the control of the Grand Lodge of England, formed in Manchester in 1808 and moved to London in 1828 when the Duke of Cumberland was its Grand Master. The Order became known as the Loyal Orange Institution of Great Britain. When the London Grand Lodge sent an officer in 1833 to visit Airdrie, his open carriage dressed in Orange ribbon was met outside the town and paraded through its streets. He was treated in the same manner when he visited Stranraer. Due to the Order's political activities to oppose Catholic Emancipation and the Reform of Parliament, a Select Committee of the House of Commons was appointed to carry out an enquiry into the Order's activities. The findings of the Committee were difficult for the Duke of Cumberland and he officially disbanded the Order in 1836.
4.14 This caused unrest and confusion. Lodges were divided, some joining the Grand Protestant Confederation formed to replace Orangeism. Others remained outwith any constituted authority, later enrolling with the Grand Lodge of Ulster. Other Lodges united immediately and formed the Grand Orange Association of Scotland in 1836. The headquarters of the new Lodge was the King William Tavern in the Gallowgate in Glasgow. The fragmentation continued until 1850 when Orangemen in Scotland appeared to have sought unity and all the Lodges in Scotland enrolled with the Grand Protestant Association of Loyal Orangemen of Great Britain which had emerged from the Grand Protestant Confederation. With a larger membership, the Grand Protestant Association organised a system of Provincial Grand Lodges and, in 1853, the Provincial Grand Lodge of Scotland was raised to the full status of a Grand Lodge. Following the establishment of the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland, the Order grew and developed an increasing political awareness as it sought to defend Protestant beliefs at the polls.
4.15 The Order suffered a set back in 1859, when it split apart over the right to march. Its processions had attracted opposition and skirmishes. Coatbridge Orangemen had been seriously assaulted in 1857, a procession planned for Inchinnan in 1858 had to be called off when it was prohibited by the Sheriff and a local demonstration at Linwood in 1859 ended with a loss of life. The Sheriffs of Ayr, Lanark and Renfrew ordered a ten year ban which was accepted by the Grand Lodge. Some Scottish lodges left to join the Liverpool based 'Institution of Great Britain'.
4.16 Despite a period of a disunified structure, both branches of the Order continued to grow, in part due to the migration of Ulstermen into Scotland and in part due to a reaction by Scottish Protestants to a feeling that Catholics were being granted concessions by the Liberal Government. Membership of the Order peaked in the years between 1874 and 1878. The Order in Scotland was reunited during this time, in 1876 and the Loyal Orange Institution was constituted. The Order forged links with the Conservative party at the end of the nineteenth century.
4.17 The early twentieth century, in 1910, saw the Order under new and clear leadership with a new Grand Master, David Ness. He encouraged the Ladies Section of the Order, created in 1909, and gave fresh impetus to the juvenile movement. The First World War took its toll on the Order as some of its members lost their lives. Membership of the Order increased during the 1920s and 1930s, partially in response to the 1918 Education Act and to the revival of the Home Rule question for Ireland. The Order's first Annual Divine Service was staged in Glasgow Cathedral in 1933. Various MPs and Peers were members of the Order. At this time the Order broke off its formal ties with the Unionist Party and temporarily established its own party, with an MP being returned for Motherwell in 1923. The Order continued steadily throughout the mid years of the century with a recovery in the 1970s when the Grand Order was reorganised and several new District Lodges established. Current issues of interest for the Order, as it passes its 200 years in Scotland, remain linked to continuing to protect the Protestant faith and concern about issues in Northern Ireland. The Order no longer has political ties to any party and members come from all political persuasions.
Structure of the Orange Order in Scotland
4.18 The present day structure of the Orange Order reflects its historical development. The lodge remains the basic unit of the Order and lodges are created where and when members want to set them up. There are an estimated 911 lodges across Scotland. Each lodge elects a number of officers annually, headed by the Master and sends representatives to one of 62 District Lodges. In turn the District Lodges send representatives to one of the four County Grand Lodges, covering Glasgow, Central Scotland, the East and Ayrshire, and Renfrewshire and Argyll. The Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland is made up of representation from the County Grand Lodges and each District Lodge in Scotland. The Grand Lodge has around 300 members at each meeting and meets formally four times a year, in March, June, September, and has its Annual General Meeting in December. It works through a number of committees. The Orange Order has an estimated 50,000 members across Scotland. Almost a third of the adult membership is female and there is an active junior section.
The beliefs of the Orange Order
4.19 The Orange Order emphasises its religious foundation and, to underline the importance of its religious basis, an open Bible is displayed when a lodge is in session. Each lodge has a chaplain who will open and close proceedings in prayer and read a portion of the bible. The Order describes its belief system is as 'Christian, Protestant, patriotic and fraternal' and summarises its purpose as:
- To maintain intact the Protestant Constitution and Christian heritage of the United Kingdom;
- To cultivate Christian character, promote brotherly love and fellowship; and
- To expose and resist by all lawful means every system opposed to the mental, political and spiritual freedom of the individual.
4.20 Its principles are set out formally in the Qualifications of an Orangeman which state that an Orangeman should:
'have a sincere love and veneration for his Heavenly Father; a humble and steadfast faith in Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind, believing in Him as the only Mediator between God and man. He should cultivate truth and justice, brotherly kindness and charity, devotion and piety, concord and unity and obedience to the laws; his deportment should be gentle and compassionate, kind and courteous; he should seek the society of the virtuous and avoid that of the evil.
He should honour and diligently study the Holy Scriptures, and make them the rule of his faith and practice. He should uphold and defend the protestant religion and sincerely desire and endeavour to propagate its doctrines and precepts. He should strenuously oppose the fatal errors and doctrines of the Church of Rome, and scrupulously avoid countenancing (by his presence or otherwise) any act or ceremony of Popish Worship. He should by all lawful means resist the ascendancy of that Church, its encroachments and the extension of its power, ever abstaining from all uncharitable words, actions or sentiments towards Roman Catholics.
He should remember to keep holy the Sabbath day, and attend the public worship of God, and diligently train up his offspring and all under his control, in the fear of God, and in the Protestant faith. He should never take the name of God in vain, but abstain from all cursing and profane language, and use every opportunity of discouraging those, and all other sinful practices in others.
His conduct should be guided by wisdom and prudence, and marked by honesty, temperance and sobriety. The glory of God and the welfare of man, the honour of his Sovereign, and the good of his country should be the motives of his actions.'
4.21 The Orange Order takes its name from King William III, Prince of Orange, celebrating his role in bringing constitutional monarchy to Britain with the Bill of Rights. They consider William III brought religious toleration, freedom of speech and of the press, liberty of the subject, independence of judges to interpret the law and the development, both at home and overseas, of parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy.
The parading traditions of the Orange Order
4.22 Parades are a very important part of the Orange tradition and heritage and are often the most visible part of the Order's activities to the public, although it is important to the Order that parades are not viewed as the only part of their activities which encompass wider fraternal, social and charitable pursuits. However, to many members of the Order, the annual parade is often regarded as the highlight of the lodge year. The Order's formal submission to me explained the intrinsic importance of parades:
'And we flatter ourselves that we are good at it. Sunday best dress, the bright lodge sashes, the expensive oil painted banners and the bands produce a street theatre of noise and colour that is unmatched by any other organisation in Scotland. A strict code of public behaviour is only rarely breached by members and is then subject to lodge discipline and lodge processions are well stewarded by our own marshals. The police are not required to expend any time or effort in stewarding and are able to concentrate on their traffic and public order duties.'
4.23 The Orange Order believe that parades represent a medium to witness for their faith and to celebrate their cultural heritage. The Order see their tradition of parades as building on the existing traditions of the Protestant community. Parades commemorate various events from the remembrance of the fallen at the Somme to the 12th of July commemorating William III's victory over James II at the Battle of the Boyne. There are also local church parades and Divine Services. Parades are a way of marking a sense of tradition and family and the maintenance of freedoms.
4.24 Parades usually involve a number of lodges parading together within the District. The parade is led by a colour party carrying the national flag, followed by a parading band, followed by the lodge banner and the members of the lodge. Banners depict biblical scenes, famous people or events in history. Members wear collarettes or sashes and the bands wear uniforms.
4.25 Orange processions in Scotland have had a long history. July processions were common in Ayrshire, Wigtown and Dundee in the 1840s and 1850s. The Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland organised its first 12th of July parade at Moodiesburn in 1857, although the first recorded Scottish 12th of July celebration was thought to have taken place in Glasgow in 1821. However, the parades did not always pass off peacefully and there were assaults in 1857, followed by a prohibition of the march the following year and more violence in 1859. Processions were then banned by the Sheriffs of Ayr, Lanark and Renfrewshire for ten years. It has been alleged that Father Jeremiah Coakley had to leave East Lothian in 1861 because he had compelled the authorities to put a stop to an Orange march in Bo'ness placing his life in danger from enraged local Orangemen.
4.26 Marches appear to have grown in size in Glasgow over the middle nineteenth century. In 1868 records show that 600 took part in 12th of July procession but 10,000 were taking part in the 1870s. In 1878 there were an estimated 100 lodges in Glasgow with a membership of 14,000 - 15,000. Marches were taking place across Scotland. One of the earliest parades in West Lothian was in 1892 in Armadale. Broxburn saw a major parade in 1922 with 5,000 participants. The West Lothian Chronicle records the parade set out with ' bands playing and banners flying... A force of 43 policemen was distributed along the route some of whom were mounted, fortunately though little call was made on their services.' The Order's first Annual Divine Service was held in Glasgow Cathedral in 1933 where the Order later returned to celebrate its 200 years in Scotland in 1998.
The main parades of the Orange Order
4.27 The Orange Order's main parades take place around 12th of July commemorating William III's victory over James II at the Battle of the Boyne. There are sometimes 'feeder parades' on the same day as the commemorative parades held by a lodge from their hall to their point of departure. A lodge may walk through a part of local town or village before leaving for the main parade. Sometimes they parade from their hall to collect their Grand Master from his house. Following their participation in the main event, the lodge may parade back to their Orange hall. As well as the main parades, the Orange Order organises parades to and from church services. At these parades, the bands will play only religious music. There are also local parades celebrating more localised events such as the founding of the lodge or the unfurling of a new banner.
The Royal Black Institution - the Provincial Grand Black Chapter of Scotland
Background and beliefs of the Royal Black Institution
4.28 The Royal Black Institution was formed in Ireland in September 1797 and sees itself as a predominantly religious organisation. The aims and objectives of the organisation are based on Christian teaching as found in the Holy Scriptures and on the principles of the Reformation. Its members are encouraged to study the scriptures, increase the knowledge of the reformed faith, engage in Christian and charitable outreach and continue and further develop social and responsible citizenship. Membership is confined to men who must first be members of the Orange Order.
The Provincial Grand Black Chapter of Scotland
4.29 The Royal Black Institution has a tiered structure, with the local preceptory the base, rising to district and county levels and the Imperial Grand Black Chapter of the British Commonwealth, the governing body, which has representatives from the various provincial chapters. The Royal Black Institution has representation in Scotland through the Provincial Grant Black Chapter of Scotland which has a total of 60 Preceptories spread over 11 District Chapters. These are to be found in and around the Greater Glasgow area, Ayrshire and in the Lothians.
Main commemorative parades of the Royal Black Institution
4.30 In Northern Ireland, the first major Royal Black Institution parades take place on 13 July in County Down. The second half of August is the key time for Royal Black Parades with local parades held before the main six County parades on the 'Last Saturday' of August. In Scotland, the Royal Black Institution has one main parading day on the second Saturday in August. Preceptories around Scotland organise parades at this time, for example in 2003 there were 11 parades in Glasgow and 15 parades in North Lanarkshire organised in August. Like the Orange Order there will be 'feeder parades' to the main parade. Royal Black parades are a public manifestation of the member's Christian faith and others are linked to 'Divine Services'. The Royal Black Institution has internal stewarding appointed for the purpose of ensuring that those who take part adhere to their code of conduct.
The Apprentice Boys of Derry
History and development of the Apprentice Boys of Derry
4.31 The Apprentice Boys of Derry was formed to commemorate the Siege of Derry which took place in 1689. It commemorates the actions of 13 apprentice boys who seized the keys to the gates of Londonderry and closed them in the face of the advancing army of James II. James II's army laid siege to the city in April 1689 for 105 days before William III's forces were able to relieve the city at the end of July.
4.32 The first Apprentice Boys club was formed in 1714. The present day organisation of the Apprentice Boys dates from 100 years later when the Apprentice Boys of Derry Clubs were founded. At the heart of the organisation are the eight Parent Clubs which are based in the Memorial Hall in Londonderry. Six of these are named after leaders of the siege: Baker, Browning, Campsie, Mitchelburne, Murray and Walker, the other two being the Apprentice Boys of Derry Club and the No Surrender Club. The Baker Club was formed in 1927, the Campsie Club as recently as 1950, while the other five clubs were founded in the nineteenth century.
4.33 Besides the Parent Clubs, the organisation consists of around 200 Branch Clubs across Northern Ireland, in Scotland, England, the Republic of Ireland and three in Canada. Each Branch Club is established through, and affiliated to, a Parent Club. Branch Clubs in each area are also linked together by Amalgamated Committees which function as sub-committees of the main organisation. There are eight Amalgamated Committees in Northern Ireland, one in Scotland and one in England. Overall organisation and management of the Apprentice Boys is controlled through the General Committee.
4.34 There are an estimated 1,500 members in Scotland. The Clubs were first established in Scotland in 1903. The Apprentice Boys do not have a junior organisation and have no female members. The organisation is independent from the other loyal orders, although many Boys are also members of the Orange Institution.
Main parades of the Apprentice Boys of Derry
4.35 The first celebrations of the Relief of Londonderry took place on the walls on 28 July 1689 and the first organised service on 8 August that year. The Apprentice Boys now hold parades to commemorate the two main events of the Siege of Derry: the closing of the city gates by the apprentice boys in December 1688, and the relief of the siege with the arrival of the Mountjoy in August 1689. These two events have been commemorated in the city in some form since the late 17th century. The first parades in Scotland appear to have taken place in 1959. In Scotland, the Apprentice Boys have two main parades a year. The 'Relief of the City Parade' takes place on the third Saturday in May each year with each branch club taking turns to host the parade, under the control of the Scottish Amalgamated Committee. 'The Closing of the Gates Parade' and service is held on the second Saturday in December each year and is held in Glasgow, again under the control of the Scottish Amalgamated Committee.
Catholic marching organisations: Ancient Order of Hibernians
4.36 The Ancient Order of Hibernians is no longer very active in Scotland. It is difficult to know exactly when the Ancient Order was formed. It would probably trace its own routes back to 1565 but only gained its present title in 1838. It grew out of the Ribbon Society which was prevalent in Ireland in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The aim of the organisation is to protect the interests of Roman Catholics and to defend and foster their religion. In Northern Ireland, its parades take place on St. Patrick's Day and Lady's Day (15 August) with bands, banners and members wearing green coloured sashes. The organisation is now seen as a religious, cultural and social grouping.
4.37 The organisation was strongest at the turn of the century. It took on the role as a friendly society as well as providing political support for Irish Nationalism. In 1905 there was a constitution agreed and a new President and Vice President who allied the organisation with the campaign for Home Rule. However, its membership has declined throughout the twentieth century.
4.38 There are very few parades now organised by the Ancient Order. These generally take place in the Strathclyde Police Force area, mainly around Inverclyde and Port Glasgow and also in North Lanarkshire.
Republican marching organisations: Cairde na hÉireann
4.39 Cairde na hÉireann is a relatively newly established national network of groups and individuals campaigning for a new Ireland, built on the principles of justice and equality. It has a political purpose rather than a religious affiliation. It coordinates the activities of groups, bands and individuals which support its aims as laid out in its constitution:
- to campaign for a united Ireland;
- to support sister organisations in Ireland;
- to promote a new Ireland based on the principles of justice and equality;
- to support initiatives aimed at improving the material conditions of the Irish community in Scotland; and
- to campaign against racism and sectarianism.
4.40 Cairde na hÉireann's main work includes campaigning, providing an information service, taking forward political education and organising marches and bands. The Republican bands within Cairde na hÉireann have an agreed code of conduct. The group estimates it represents around 2,000 people, including 300 from the James Connolly society and a number of flute bands with between 55 and 70 members each. 3,000 people had attended their recent marches in Coatbridge. Cairde na hÉireann has worked to improve the conduct of marches and highlight the now trouble-free nature of the James Connolly march in recent years as an example of the success they and organisations affiliated to it have had.
4.41 In the written submission they made to me, Cairde na hÉireann describes the purpose of its marches:
'Republicans march in support of various campaigns. Recently these have included anti-collusion marches. We also commemorate significant people and dates in our calendar, for example the annual James Connolly commemoration in Edinburgh. Our marches are followed by political rallies which have been addressed by representatives of Sinn Fein, the Labour Party, the Scottish National Party, anti-racist campaigners and many other campaigns. These events may not be universally popular. People may profoundly disagree with our political analysis. However, these events are not sectarian.'
4.42 There is an increasing number of Band Parades taking place representing both Protestant and Republican Traditions. Band Parades have been traditional in Northern Ireland but less so in Scotland. Some bands have links to the Loyalist Institutions, many do not and those Loyal Institutions are not responsible for organising their processions nor for controlling behaviour of bands at those processions. For a band to take part in a Loyalist Parade, they must be a member of one of the band associations across Scotland, such as: the Prize Flute Association and the Scottish Accordion Band Association and the four regional divisions of the Scottish First Flute Band Association. The associations aim to improve the standard of dress, playing and decorum within member members. The Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland operates an approved list of bands. Some of the larger band parades celebrating the Loyalist traditions take place in Whitburn, Broxburn, and Stoneyburn.
4.43 Republican bands are part of the Cairde na hÉireann structure. This includes bands which were formerly part of the West of Scotland Bands Alliance. Some of the West of Scotland Bands Alliance parades organised in recent times in Wishaw received considerable media attention. There are also a few marching bands aligned to the Ancient Order of Hibernians.
Other marches and parades in Scotland
4.44 It would be wrong to think that marches and parades are just a feature of and organised by the Loyalist Institutions or Republican or Catholic groups. Public processions are part of the traditions of communities across Scotland and are important to a very wide range of people. These events include the traditional community celebrations that take place throughout Scotland from the crowning of summer queens, gala days and common ridings in the Borders to celebrations which represent new traditions. These events very often take place at the same time every year, in the same place and take the same format. Some processions are organised to celebrate or commemorate certain times of the year. There is also a history of political protest and demonstration. Such events are part of the civic and political life of Scotland.
Traditional Community Events
Crowning of Summer Queens
4.45 Since the early 16th century, Queens of May have been recorded in Scotland. The practice of crowning a summer Queen is still widespread and basically the proceedings followed are similar with the ceremonious arrival of the Queen and her attendants, crowning on a decorated dais, a procession, sports and games. Many of the Summer Queens have distinctive names. For example the summer queen in Largs is known as the Brisbane Queen. In Lanark, the Lanimar Queen is crowned on Lanimar Day, one of the highlights of Lanimar Week, in early June. Some people date it back to 1140 while others suggest 1488, when there is the first recording of the event which arose from the marking of the Burgh's boundaries.
4.46 Many towns and villages across Scotland have annual gala days, bringing these areas together in a celebration of history and culture as well as community life. These events are often organised by voluntary committees. Historically, galas days took place in mining communities and there were often two gala days, one in May to celebrate the miners' one-day holiday and the other in June. Gala days were a chance to dress up. Bands turned out to play music for a procession of children, which ended in a park where the rest of the day's events took place.
4.47 Gala days still take place across Scotland with pipe and flute bands playing at events like the Strathaven Gala Day, the Lilias Day Parade in Kilbarchan and the Springside Gala Day in Ayrshire. Kilwinning holds its Segdoune Gala Day in June, choosing the Segdoune Queen from each of its primary schools in rotation. There are over 30 gala days in West Lothian including galas in Bathgate, Armadale and the Deans Gala in Livingston. Many gala days remain aimed at children such as the children's gala in Linlithgow & Linlithgow Bridge. Sometimes gala days are linked to particular aspects of communities' past histories, like the festival week in June organised by the Stewarton Bonnet Guild. This can trace its history back to 1933 and was established to lift the spirits of children during the days of the depression. Some local authorities offer particular assistance to gala day committees, reflecting the particular traditions in their area.
4.48 Highland games take place from May to September throughout the summer in towns and villages in the Highlands (and sometimes also in the Lowlands). They developed as a celebration of legends and stories of strong men with athletic ability and were associated with the arts of war but have since grown into organised gatherings. Today they involve athletics, tugs of war, heavy events, highland dancing as well as massed pipe band processions and road and hill races. Sometimes they celebrate the agricultural traditions of the area. Highland games often have a long history. For example, the Braemar Gathering which takes place on the first Saturday in September can trace its routes back 900 years, although has only been organised in its current form by the Braemar Royal Highland Society for the last 188 years.
Scottish Borders - common ridings and festivals
4.49 I am grateful to the Scottish Borders Tourist Board for information about the traditions of commons ridings and festivals in the Borders. In general, the annual commons ridings and festivals held in each town are a survival of the old practice of riding the town's boundaries to preserve the burgh rights and to prevent encroachment by neighbouring landlords. Long after they ceased to be essential they continued in commemoration of local legend, history and tradition. Today they are distinctive and colourful expressions of civic pride and tradition and often involve large numbers of people on horseback following the Burgh Standard as it is carried on its traditional route by a young man chosen each year from among the town's bachelors. Ribbons are tied to the Standard by the principal lass, recalling the days when a knight's lady attached her ribbon to his lance before battle. Each town in the Borders celebrates its history once a year during June and July.
4.50 There are common ridings across the Borders towns: Hawick, Selkirk, Galashiels, Jedburgh, Kelso, Lauder, Coldstream, Peebles, Duns, and Melrose. Examples include:
- The Coldstream Civic Week - inaugurated in 1952 which begins on a Sunday with the investiture of the Coldstreamer, the principal figure in the celebrations, and the bussing of the Burgh Flag. A week's activities follow with rideouts, gymkhana, sports and parades. The highlight of the week on the Thursday is the ride to the Flodden Memorial to commemorate the dead of 1513. Wreaths are laid, a short service held and an oration delivered by a guest speaker. Friday evening sees a torchlight procession and firework display. The Civic Week ends on the Saturday with horse racing, fancy dress parade, the return of the Burgh flag and Beating Retreat.
- The Galashiels Braw Lads Gathering - established in 1930 to celebrate the town's history. Preliminary events precede the main ceremonies on the Saturday which begin with the Braw Lad receiving the Burgh Flag and leading his mounted supporters to the Raid Stane. Here in 1337 Gala lads killed English raiders in a field of wild plums. The stream ran red with blood and 'soor plooms' became the Burgh emblem. The ride continues with a crossing of the Tweed to Abbotsford and a return to the Old Town cross where the creation of Galashiels as a Burgh of Barony in 1599 is recalled. The ceremony of sod and stone (sasine) is enacted and red and white roses mingled on a base of thistles to commemorate the marriage of James IV of Scotland and Margaret Tudor, descendant of the Royal Houses of York and Lancaster. The rideout concludes with an Act of Homage at the War Memorial. Sports and gymkhana bring the week's festivities to a close, with the final act being the laying of flowers at the War Memorial by the Braw Lass.
- The Hawick Common Riding - links the traditional riding of the town's lands with a commemoration of the callants, young Hawick lads who in 1514 routed English plunderers, capturing their flag. Records of the Common Riding principals go back to 1703. A young man is chosen as Cornet and in the weeks before the main ceremonies he leads his mounted supporters on a series of rideouts. Those who complete the long rough ride to Mosspaul and back are made members of the Ancient Order of Mosstroopers. Official proceedings begin on Thursday evening, when in a ceremony of speech and song, the Burgh Flag is bussed and entrusted to the Cornet. The next day bands, civic dignitaries and the mounted cavalcade process around the town. The Cornet with 'the banner blue' leads his followers in the chase, a ride at full gallop in memory of the victorious youth of 1514. The traditional refreshment of curds and cream is taken. The riding of the marches, horse racing and the dipping of the flag in the River Teviot follow. Saturday events include laying the wreaths at the War Memorial, horse racing and professional games. The Common Riding concludes with the Cornet returning the flag to the Provost.
- Peebles Beltane Week - with Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897 the burgh revived the old ceremony of riding the marches, linking it with the Beltane Fair, which traced its origins to a charter granted by James VI in 1621. Beltane signifies the fire of Bell or Baal and originated from the pagan Celtic festival in honour of the power which in early summer gave light, warmth and growth. Fires were lit and games held. Following an inaugural service on the Sunday a week of events takes place with children's sports, disco, Beltane concert and a fancy dress parade just some of the highlights. Wednesday evening sees the installation of the Cornet followed by the Riding of the Marches and a ceremony at Neidpath Castle where the Cornet is given a welcome by the Warden of Neidpath. The mounted procession leaves for the River Tweed and following a series of horse races the evening ends with the dancing of the Cornet's Reel in the High Street. Festival Day on the Saturday, after an early morning rideout, begins with the proclamation of the historic Beltane Fair and the crowning of the Beltane Queen, followed by a grand procession around the town. Sports and Highland dancing are held in the afternoon and the festival ends with Beating of Retreat.
- Selkirk Common Riding is at least 400 years old and stems back to the time of the 'Burleymen', Burgh Law men who had the task of ensuring no one was encroaching on the town's common lands. In 1513, 80 men from Selkirk followed James IV into battle at Flodden. Only one, Fletcher, survived to return, weary and wounded. but bearing a captured English flag which he raised aloft and then cast to the ground. The Flodden legend came to be associated with the Common Riding, with the Royal Standard Bearer as the central figure and the casting of the colours the main ceremony. Proceedings begin on the Thursday with 'crying the burley' as riders are summoned to attend. The bussing of the flags follow. Various trades and corporations are represented, each with their own standard bearer, who join the Royal Burgh Standard Bearer the next day. The town rises early to follow the band and witness the bussing of the Burgh Flag. The Riding of the Marches, which involves fording the River Ettrick, lasts about four and a half hours and the riders return to the Market Place for the solemn casting of the colours. The Burgh Flag is returned to the Provost and celebrations continue onto the next day with horse racing, gymkhana, Highland dancing and professional games.
4.51 As well as common ridings, there are other festivals in the Borders, many of which involve at least one procession, such as the Eyemouth Herring Queen Festival where the Queen (chosen from High School pupils) arrives in the Harbour on a traditional voyage by sea from St Abbs. The procession tours the town halting at the War Memorial and Memorial to the 129 Eyemouth men lost in the 1881 fishing disaster.
Other community celebrations
4.52 Many other communities organise processions to celebrate their community identity or traditions.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community - The Pride March
4.53 The first Pride March took place in the summer of 1995 in Scotland and has grown and developed since. In 2004, Pride Scotia (Glasgow) was responsible for organising Scotland's national Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride event. It involves a traditional march and rally where politicians, community activities, celebrities and individuals turn out to march through the city centre celebrating personal identity and diversity. Pride marches often have a theme and in 2004 this was 'Pride Scotia - celebrating 10 years of Diversity in Scotland'. The march is usually followed by a festival event. Participants come from around the country to take place. Planning begins early. 3,000 to 5,000 people are estimated to attend. For many participants it is the first opportunity they have to make a safe public statement of their pride in their sexual orientation or gender identity. It is also the only opportunity many non LGBT people have to see that this community exists in Scotland. Pride makes a key contribution to national and local aims of equality, diversity, social inclusion and cohesion.
The Hindu Community - the Ram Lila Parade, Edinburgh
4.54 The Ram Lila Parade is organised by the Scottish Indian Arts Forum as a culmination of the celebrations for the Hindu Dusherra festival in mid-October. It is attended by local and national Hindu communities, as well as the general public. Organisers estimate up to 10,000 people took part in 2003. A parade of floats and bands starts from Lothian Road and makes its way up to Calton Hill, where a bonfire is lit and effigies of Hindu demons are burnt.
The South Asian Community - Edinburgh and Glasgow Melas
4.55 Edinburgh and Glasgow Melas were founded by members of the Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi communities. Their key objectives have been to reflect and celebrate Scotland's cultural diversity, while retaining its roots in the South Asian communities. In July in Glasgow and in August or September in Edinburgh, they bring together people from a diverse range of cultures and backgrounds to celebrate international and local talent in music, dance, and art. Crafts bazaars, food stalls, children's activities and sports are organised too. This year's Melas were held in Pilrig and Kelvingrove Parks respectively. Organisers estimate around 40,000 people attended last year's festival over two days in Edinburgh. Edinburgh's Mela has a marching band, Ronak Baja, made up of two bagpipers, two trombonists and a dhol player.
The Sikh Community - the founding of the Khalsa
4.56 The Sikh community in Glasgow organise a procession every year in April to commemorate the founding of the Khalsa, the community of baptised Sikhs in 1699. The procession visits all Gurdwaras (Sikh place of worship) in Glasgow. The aim of the procession is to unite all human beings and enhance their spirituality and faith in God. The procession is led by the holy Sikh scriptures, the Guru Granth Sahib, with the congregation following and singing the praises of God. All are welcome to participate in the procession and partake in a community meal at the end.
4.57 Many youth groups organise processions from the traditional annual parades of the Scouts Association, the Boys Brigade and the Girls Brigade to youth festivals such as the International Youth Festival which took place in Aberdeen involving 700 young performers in a street carnival.
4.58 There are more and more charity walks, fun runs, road races, half and full marathons taking place across Scotland. While perhaps not everyone's idea of a procession, they need to be carefully arranged, have many of the same effects as more traditional processions, and organisers will be covered by many of my recommendations. There are also processions arranged to mark sporting events, particularly victories, or to protest about decisions such as moving football grounds.
Processions which mark particular dates
4.59 There are some key dates in the calendar which are associated with processions. Remembrance Sunday is such a date with many different organisations arranging processions to war memorials to commemorate and remember those who have died in conflicts over the years. Churches also sometimes organise parades around important days in their calendars, for example Palm Sunday. There are processions arranged to celebrate national days, for example the Norwegian constitution day in May. There are also processions around art festivals, for example Edinburgh hosts the festival cavalcade in August.
4.60 Scotland also has a particular culture of celebrating the passing of the old year with many events organised around Hogmanay. Some of the most interesting include:
- the Ancient Fireballs Ceremony which takes place in Stonehaven, north of Aberdeen. At midnight the high street is lit up as local fireball swingers make their way swinging their fireballs above their heads. The ceremony dates back from a fisherman's festival in the nineteenth century;
- the torchlight Up-Helly-Aa procession in Lerwick which takes place on the last Tuesday in January. Up to 1,000 costumed people bearing torches drag a Viking galley through the streets of Lerwick to a designated burning spot;
- Orkney also has a unique burning ceremony on 11 January (to mark the old Hogmanay) where a 'clavier', a burning half barrel filled with wood shavings and tar, is carried around the streets of Burghead stopping at the houses of eminent citizens to present a smouldering piece of wood for good luck before being taken to a fort on a nearby hill;
- the biggest Hogmanay festival is now organised in Edinburgh where a torchlight procession takes place on 29 December involving anything up to 12,000 people. The torch carriers are accompanied by pipes and drums of both traditional and contemporary groups.
Council organised events
4.61 Councils also organise processions. Many councils have an annual 'Kirkin' of the Council' when councillors parade from the town house to a local kirk for a dedication and service with the parade led by a local pipe band. In June, Glasgow Council organises the Lord Provost's Procession with floats representing community groups, charities, businesses and other organisations, with a wide range of participants from piping bands to African drummers. It marks the beginning of Glasgow's Summer in the City Festival.
4.62 The final category of processions is protest marches that take place in a democracy enabling people to make their views heard in a public way. While there are many other ways of demonstrating, collective action in the streets is still a popular way of making feelings heard.
Political and Trade Union marches
4.63 The Scottish Trades Union Council represents some 630,000 trade union members in Scotland from 40 affiliated organisations. The STUC and its affiliates have been organisers of or involved in some of the major marches and demonstrations in Scotland's communities and workplaces on a range of issues over more than a century as well as annual May Day marches. Recent protests have involved supporting nursery nurses in their dispute over pay levels. The STUC is responsible for organising an annual Scotland wide demonstration, the St Andrew's Day March against Racism and Fascism. The march takes place on the Saturday nearest to St Andrew's Day and attracts trade unionists, politicians, media, public, voluntary and private sector organisations, as well as individuals.
4.64 Scottish CND has organised a series of protests in various parts of the country against nuclear weapons as well as organising anti-war marches and rallies on behalf of the Scottish Coalition for Justice not War. These events provide an organised framework for people to express their concern about political issues. Their marches mainly take place at Faslane and in Edinburgh and Glasgow.
4.65 Many other groups arrange processions to publicise their view or their cause. These can be to support or protest about local decisions such as the closure of a hospital or a sewage works to national decisions such marches against the war in Iraq or against anti-hunting legislation or simply to bring attention to an issue such as Epilepsy Scotland. There have been marches against events occurring in other countries, such as China and Russia.