This short article sets out the history of the Braw Lads’ Gathering, the summer festival for the Galashiels area.
The Gathering was established in 1930 to celebrate the town’s history, and in particular commemorates an event in 1337 where Gala men defeated English soldiers in a field of sour plums, the marriage in 1503 of King James IV of Scotland to Margaret Tudor of England, the granting of a burgh charter to the town, and the sacrifices made by local people in World War I.
Every year a local man and woman are appointed to be Braw Lad and Braw Lass. They will take part in the ceremonies and lead the ride outs, where hundreds of people ride through the town and across the countryside on horseback.
The main Braw Lads’ Day takes place on the Saturday, beginning at 8am when the Braw Lad receives the burgh flag and rides to the ‘Raid Stane’ at Netherdale, the site of the 1337 affray.
The cavalcade then crosses the River Tweed and stops for a reception at Abbotsford House, before riding back to the town, where the Braw Lass mixes red and white roses, commemorating the 1503 marriage. Then the Laird of Gala and the President of the Gathering exchange a parchment, celebrating the granting of the ‘Burgh of Barony’ charter in 1599.
Finally, the party proceeds to the town’s war memorial where, as the clock strikes noon, the Braw Lad dips the flag in a mark of respect to fallen soldiers, and a period of silence is held.