Lanimer week begins with Iain’s Kirkin’ on Sunday

Lanark Cornet Elect Iain Hughes.   (Picture Sarah Peters)
Lanark Cornet Elect Iain Hughes. (Picture Sarah Peters)

The bunting is up, shoppers are admiring the dresses made for the Lanimer Queen and maids - and the outfits for the young lords - and Lanark’s annual spectacle is just about ready to roll.

The ancient traditions begin this Sunday, June 4, when the pipe band will lead Lord Cornet-elect Iain Hughes down the High Street for the Kirkin’ service in St Nicholas Church at noon.

The procession will include local dignitaries, Lanimer committee members, the current Lord Cornet Gordon Jess and former Cornets, and Lanimer Queen-elect Niamh Jopp.

That leaves the Memorial Hall around 11.40am - cheer them if you are in the High Street.

On Monday evening the public participation begins in earnest, with the Perambulation of the Marches.

Tradition has it that the checking of the marches, or boundaries, was a condition set out in 1140 when King David granted the burgh of Lanark its royal charter. No-one has ever seen the charter, but there is plenty of historical evidence back through the centuries of Lanark appointing a standard bearer to check the march stones.

The first swathe are checked on foot on Monday, some years with thousands of people falling in behind the Cornet-elect as he sets out from Hope Street at 6pm, gathering supporters along Waterloo Road, then plunging down the Stey Brae to the lands of Jerviswood.

Stones on the others sides of the town are checked on horseback later in the week.

Volunteers hand out sprigs of birk as the groups pass, greenery borne in triumph back to the cross afterwards, even though few of those walking round actually see a marchstone! And for the youngsters there is always a lot of jostling at the Mouse, with equally triumphant muddy wet youngsters taking their place back at the cross.

For those who don’t do the Marches, the Celia Orr School of Dancing puts on a display at the Cross from 7.15pm, and around 7.50pm the draw for the top prizes in the Lanimer Silver Club - which is one of the largest fundraisers for the celebrations - with Mrs Suzanne Hughes drawing the winners of the £1,000 prizes.

Meanwhile at the the top of St Leonard Street the Cornet-elect, Lord Cornet and his scores of supporters are mounting up to ride to the Cross, arriving around 8pm for the Shifting of the Standard.

Gordon Jess will return it “unsullied and unstained” and it will be handed on to Iain Hughes, a 39-year-old detective, as he is sashed as Lanark’s new Lord Cornet.

And his official duties begin on Tuesday, when he leads the Lanimer Ride-Out of local horsemen and women and visiting principals from other Borders towns from the Cross at 4.30pm and up the High Street.

That ride takes in neighbouring countryside as far as Lee Castle, as well as Lanark Racecourse where the traditional horse races take place.

The riders then stream into New Lanark about 8pm for the formal welcome from the historic village.

Trophies from the racecourse events are awarded and there is also the presentation of a gift, the New Lanark ‘Loving Cup’ to Lanimer Queen-elect Niamh Jopp.