The Scottish versus the English, an ongoing war, when will it stop? As a Scottish 22-year-old I feel that even though the physical fighting is in the part there is still a constant underlying rivalry. Because really which young Scottish person didn’t support Croatia in the world cup semi-final?

If we were to go back to medieval times, in Scotland football and such like ball games were often played with the head of an Englishman that has been captured by the Scots. I am from a small town 10 miles from the Scottish and English border, a town that is rife with Scottish heritage both intangible and tangible. The Hand Ba is a practised form of intangible heritage that is readily practised in my town that began being played on a yearly in February since 1914; however, it stemmed from the medieval football using the Englishman head. Nowadays a leather ball with ribbons attached is used but can this still be deemed as a form of heritage as it has been adapted so greatly and no longer has the original underlying principles of showing off the successes of slaughtering the opposition.

It can be argued that due to the change in the way of obtaining the ball and the new introductions of rules to the game that it is no longer a heritage as suggested;

Hand Ba

Despite the context being taken away of that of the Englishman’s head, the ribbons that are now placed upon the ball are used as a symbol of his hair. The authenticity has not been affected yet it has merely been adapted in order to be able to play a part in society. The game is still a battle between people born in the top of the town, ‘Uppies’; versus people born in the bottom of the town, ‘Doonies’ to see who can score the more points.

In addition, the Hand Ba is very much still a part of Scottish heritage, this can be understood by

intangible heritage requires presence of traditional attune bearers to give it life.

The Hand Ba in Jedburgh, despite is modern adaptations is a practised heritage. It is played yearly with dates being marked in the local calendar until 2025. It shows no signs of slowing down with many people participating to keep this heritage alight. It is not forgotten aspect that it was previously played with an Englishman’s head after a successful defeat of the Scottish border, yet it has only been transformed into a modern-day ethical sport.

Hand Ba 3

To conclude the Hand Ba in Jedburgh shows no signs of slowing up in the near future. The game is very much a part of borderland heritage when it was played with the heid of an Englishman after battle. The remembrance of protecting the countryside and preventing the English from capturing the Scottish territory. The changes that have been made to the game could be used to despite its authenticity but due to the large number of participants in the game it is still an active form of intangible heritage in Scotland but especially Jedburgh.



(e-book chapter) McKercher, Bob and du Cros, Hilary (2001) Cultural tourism: the partnership between tourism and cultural heritage management (Chapter 6: “Intangible Heritage and its Management”)