On, St Ronan’s, On …

  • Cleikum Ceremonies, St Ronan's Wells
  • A wonderfully decorated house
  • One of many parades on Innerleithen High Street
  • Fancy dress parade
  • St Ronan's Silver Band
  •  All set for 'Burning the De’il' ...

 

Not to be outdone by that lot up the road in Peebles with their fancy Beltane Festival, Innerleithen has a rather special celebration of its own which gets under way today – the St Ronan’s Border Games.

The oldest organised sports meeting in Scotland, the Games have run almost continuously since their inception in 1827. Originally a mini-Olympics for amateur sportsmen featuring events such as sprint, middle distance running, long jump and hammer throwing, the Games once also included such eccentricities as whippet racing and – best of all – a competition to see who could be the first to climb a greasy pole.

Innerleithen even had its own handba’ match that saw teams from opposite sides of the Tweed go head to head in what by all accounts was often a bruising encounter. It’s fair to say that today’s games are rather more civilised, with professional runners coming from far and wide to compete.

Always ending on the third Saturday in July, the Games mark the culmination of a 10-day festival that celebrates Innerleithen’s association with its patron saint, St Ronan. The festival sees a range of events, from dinner dances and balls to children’s sports and various parades – some ceremonial, others just full of fun.

One event, the Cleikum Ceremonies, includes a fiery reenactment of when St Ronan was said to have driven the devil out of town. Performed on the final Saturday of the Games, principals lead a torch-lit procession to the top of nearby Caerlee Hill before lighting a gigantic bonfire that’s visible for miles around.

Further info

This year's St Ronan’s Border Games run from 9–18 July. For much more on the Games, including a timetable of events, visit www.stronansgames.org/games-week.html

 

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