Every year, during Yetholm Festival week in June, the Stobs Stanes Rideout takes place - one of the most dramatic such rides in the Borders. Yetholm is perhaps the smallest community in the Borders to host such an event and it is often overshadowed by the grander affairs in Hawick or Selkirk. Nevertheless Yetholm's ride has a long pedigree. Records for the ride at Hawick go back to 1703, but other rides are much more recent, dating only from the twentieth century - Kelso (1937) and Jethart (1947). Yetholm's ride can traced back to at least 1847. The newspaper cutting shown above - from the London Standard, 5th November 1847 - describes the coronation of Charles Blyth as Gipsy King. The jocular tone of the article shows that even at this date Yetholm's coronation had become something of a pantomine. What is interesting, though, is that the coronation had been incorporated into the 'the day appointed for traversing the boundary of Yetholm Common'. Interesting, too, that the coronation took place at Stob Stanes - where 'his Majesty's head was anointed with whisky', as the account goes on to relate - where today's ride also pauses for a rather more sober ceremony. Yetholm Common, on the other side of Halterburn, had originally been in England and is shown as disputed ground on Roy's famous map of c.1750. It is clear that the folks of Kirk Yetholm were keen to assert their right to graze animals there and it may well be that a perambulation of its boundaries dated back well before 1847, very likely into the eighteenth century.
There is a puzzle, though, about this newspaper account. The coronation is described as the taking place on 'the day appointed for traversing the boundary of Yetholm Common'. and later there is a reference to the 'common riding'. However, Charles Blyth's coronation took place on the 25th October, which is rather late in the season for such festive occasions as a Common Riding. Recently a YHS member researching the records of Yetholm's Secession Church came upon a reference which may clarify the situation. In the Session minutes for 11th January 1848 two neighbours from Kirk Yetholm, John Hall and Thomas Mitchel, brought a disagreement before the session for arbitration. It appears that both men, while participating in 'what is called the Common Riding in the month of July last', fell out over a pile of lime that Hall was supposed to have taken from Mitchel without permission. Fortunately the Session was able to resolve the issue amicably, though their concluding remarks make it clear that they didn't think much of their members participating in the Common Riding: '[They] regretted very much that any of the parties, should in any way have engaged in the foolish affair in which the difference originated.'
It seems unlikely that there would have been two Common Ridings in 1847, one in July and the other in October. It seems probable, therefore, that the coronation was an entirely separate event, but that it utilized the familiar Common Riding route up to the Stob Stanes. Charles' predecessor William Faa II had died on the 29th September and it would appear the elevation of his succesor took place as soon as possible afterwards.
Whatever the case, these two records show that Yetholm's Common Riding can be dated back to at least 1847 - 170 years ago - and that the event took place in the summer months, as it does today.