THE LORDSHIP & BARONY OF KILMARNOCK
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The Baron is proud to be a member of the Horseman's Word. He was initiated in Sandwick, Orkney, on 14th April 1983.
In June 1989 the local newspaper printed the Oath of the Horseman's Word, and the belief that a member was initiated 'a few weeks ago'. The article is here.
The Horsemen originated in the north-east of Scotland before 1870. Much has been written about the growth and the following of the Horsemen with anecdotal versions of the initiation ceremony, the mysteries, the Oath, and versions of the 'Word' itself. For anyone keen to read such accounts, a short list of books is given below.
On a light-hearted note, from 'Scots Pegasus' by the Scottish dialect poet Alastair Mackie, ' . . the hert o the nut is this - naebody, dammt, kens the horseman's word'.
Contrary to what curious readers may find stated elsewhere on the internet, the Horsemen (as we call it) is still an active Society in Scotland. Competent authors such as Russell Lyon in Lanarkshire made the effort to check facts before writing "Small groups have survived, notably in Orkney where, I have been told, members are still initiated into the old secrets; and those societies which appear to have been incorporated into Masonic lodges still flourish". And indeed this is so.
Billy Rennie, from Stuartfield near Peterhead, was described by a Scotland on Sunday columnist in Dec. 2002 as 'the last known surviving member of the Horsemanís Word'. In Oct. 2009 the Buchan Observer had a local headline entry 'Horseman's Word expert publishes book' - none other than brother Rennie, initiated in Sept.1961. A deluxe limited edition (100) followed, bound in leather 'with an imprint from an actual horseshoe, with nail holes in genuine gold' and including an envelope containing 'a horsehair knotted in the special manner that signifies that it is your invitation to the mysteries of the Society of the Horseman's Word'.
Yes, we have many more 'surviving members' . . . and that is from the horse's mouth!
Gentlemen, please raise your glasses for the toast:
the chestnut tail and mane;
a star on his face and a spot on his breast,
and his master's name was Cain.'
For the enjoyment of visitors who can understand the broad Scottish tongue, a delightful poem 'The Horseman's Word' by William Christie can be read online here.
• Folklore, Myths and Legends of Britain, Reader's Digest Association Ltd., 1977.
• The Quest for the Original Horse Whisperers, Russell Lyon, Luath Press Ltd., Edinburgh, 2003.
• The Horseman's Word, Timothy Neat, Birlinn Ltd., 2002.
• The Pattern Under The Plough, George Ewart Evans, Faber & Faber, 1966.