An Aberdeen equestrian has been spurred on to restart a city horse-riding tradition stretching back seven centuries to the time of Robert the Bruce.
The colourful ritual, Riding of the Marches, arose from the practice of riding the boundary lines to check the condition of the stones and make sure no land-grabbers had moved them.
Now John Crawford, who has run the Hayfield Riding Centre in Hazlehead Park for the last 45 years, is creating the Hayfield Community Riding Club to take ponies out into both the city and the north east countryside in honour of the King of Scots.
The 67-year-old said he was looking to remain an active participant in his community during his retirement and wanted to change the perception of horse riding.
He added: “One of the main things I want to get across by holding this is that horse riding isn’t just a sport for the rich.
“We will start with a mini march on Mayday which runs from the Duthie Park to the Cults Hotel following the old Deeside railway line.
“The mini run is also in aid of The Sue Ryder Care Home and the pace will be slow and leisurely and there will be an accommodation for wheelchair-users behind the walking horses.
“Knowing my interest in Scotland’s history, (a student) pointed out there had long been a tradition of “Riding The Marches” of the “Freedom Land” which King Robert The Bruce bestowed to the people of Aberdeen as a mark of his appreciation for their support.”
The date for a main march through the city’s traditional “freedom lands” is set for sometime in early June, although it has still to be finalised.
City council infrastructure convener, and former principal history teacher at Cults Academy, Neil Cooney said links to the past were important.
He added: “It’s good that they are reviving this in the city to keep a link to the past.
“The marches were originally intended to ensure that nobody was encroaching on city territory and to prevent intruders.”