Longhorn Cattle Society - Blog

A Longhorn bull’s horn is used to continue an ancient tradition…

The city of Ripon in North Yorkshire has a long tradition of a hornblower ‘setting the watch’ each night at 9pm.  Here’s a BBC news article about the ancient tradition.

A couple of years ago the Mayor of Ripon put a request out for a suitable cattle horn to make a new horn that could be used to continue the tradition, and the call was answered by Longhorn member Ruth Russell of the Settrington herd.  Her bull, Settrington Quest had already made a name for himself when he starred in the ‘Dads Army’ film, but unfortunately he had to be put down and his horn was then used to make a new instrument to ensure the four current hornblowers had a horn each.

Click here for the press release explaining more about the process.

The new horn was handed over to the City by the retiring Mayor on 3 May just before 9pm.  It is called the McHardy Quest Horn (after Settrington Quest and the retiring Mayor – Pauline McHardy)

Richard Midgely seen blowing the horn had the job of boiling the horn for about 3 hours to remove the centre (not a pleasant experience – all the windows and doors had to be opened because of the smell).  He then lightly sanded the horn before sending it to a company in West Yorkshire who applied the nickel silver band, they removed the tip to be sent abroad to act as a mould for the end and mouthpiece.  A local saddler made the harness to complete the horn.

The presentation of the McHardy Quest Horn took place in the Market Square in Ripon on 3 May 2019, where all four horns were blown at the Obelisk. Then as is tradition the horn was blow three times in the presence of the Mayor.  It’s amazing to think this custom has taken place every night since 886 without a break.


The photo showing five horns are the four blown regularly by the four Hornblowers and the 5th is the 886 horn, now only used for ceremonial purposes, covered in black velvet and bound with silver bands.

An oil painting of Settrington Quest was presented to the City Of Ripon and which will hang in the Town Hall as a record of the history of the Mchardy Quest Horn.

If you happen to be in Ripon at 9pm, listen out for the horn being blown at the Obelisk in the Market Square!

RSS News Feed

We use cookies to make your experience of our website better.

To comply with the new e-Privacy directive, we need to ask for your consent - I agree - No thanks - Find out more