Denholm Hand Ball

The Denholm Ba' takes place on the Green every year in late February or early March.

The annual Ba' or Hand Ba' is an ancient custom still held in several Border towns and villages. The ball is said to represent the head of an Englishman.

In Denholm the appointed day is always the Monday after Shrove Tuesday which was known as Fasten E'en or Fasten's Eve. According to an old saying, 'First comes Candlemas, then the new moon, the following Tuesday is Fastens E'en, the following Monday is Denholm Ba' Day.'

Denholm Ba Game

On the day large crowds of men from the surrounding district would collect around Leyden's Monument.

The single men were known as the 'uppies' and the married men as the 'doonies'. A beribboned leather ball was traditionally supplied by the men who had married during the year. It was made by the saddler in sections of leather and stuffed with wet moss or newspaper.

The ball was thrown up in the air by the donor and when it fell the ribbons were torn off and it was thrown up again. The 'uppies' then tried to hail the ball to the bridge at Honeyburn and the 'doonies' to the 'Gang' on the Jedburgh road.

There was no prize, only the honour of winning but sometimes the newly wed who supplied the ball would offer a reward for its return.

Denholm Ba Game

The apprentices played at 9am and the men at 1pm. Schoolboys had their own ba' on the Friday.

Ramsay recalls that a man called Best was killed on the spikes of the iron railings opposite the Cross Keys Inn and says that the spikes were the cause of many accidents that he can remember.