Hawick 500 celebrations a proud day for Hexham
Summer 2014 saw a new chapter written in the long and illustrious history of Hexham.
Exactly 500 years after townsfolk clashed with their Scottish neighbours from Hawick, at the bloody Battle of Hornshole, the two sides met again for a service of remembrance and reconciliation.
It commemorated one of the darkest episodes in local history when back in 1514 – a year after the Battle of Flodden – a raiding party, including men loyal to the Prior of Hexham, was ambushed by a group of youths defending Hawick from the English aggressors.
During the skirmish, the Prior’s Standard was captured and kept by the Hawick Cornet, or standard bearer, and has formed part of the annual Common Riding celebrations in the Borders ever since.
A new tartan army led by the Provost of Hawick Councillor Stuart Marshall – accompanied by the Cornet Ross Gibson – attended the special service at Hexham Abbey taken by the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, The Rt Revd John Chalmers and The Rt Revd Frank White, Assistant Bishop ofNewcastle.
The Abbey was full to bursting point with local residents and 250 Scottish visitors keen to be part of history in the making. Businesses around the Market Place also played their part in welcoming the group from north of the border.
The Cornet marched through the Abbey bearing a replica of the captured flag and the civic party – with an honour guard provided by 39 Regiment Royal Artillery, based at nearby Albemarle Barracks – made a colourful sight in their robes and costumes as the procession then moved into the grounds for a commemorative tree-planting ceremony led by Provost Stuart Marshall.
The Mayor of Hexham Terry Robson summed up the feelings of everyone involved in this important civic event, saying: “This was an amazing day and one in which I was incredibly proud to play a part.
“Instead of frontier enemies, our two communities met in the spirit of reconciliation and friendship, connected by that historical event of five centuries ago. I sincerely hope that the bonds of friendship between Hexham and Hawick continue for centuries to come.”