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Swearing on the Horns at Highgate 1796
Swearing on the Horns is a farcical oath that was traditionally given to non-local visitors at various pubs in Highgate since the 17th century. The oath to merriment and debauchery requires the visitor to agree to a series of statements in front of the pub landlord holding a set of horns, Participants were then awarded the title of "Freemen of Highgate".
The ceremony was a source of amusement for regular customers, who would do their best to convince newcomers to take part in the ritual. Most participants understood it to be a joke at their expense, but willingly took part, indeed many had often journeyed to Highgate for the experience.
Being a Freemen of Highgate conferred dubious privileges, the first of which was being allowed to kiss the prettiest woman in the pub. If no pretty women were to be found, the new initiate had to settle for less.
If a Freeman was in need of a rest whilst in Highgate, he could kick a pig out of a ditch and take its place. But if there were three pigs in the ditch, he could only chase away the middle one and sleep between the other two.
If a Freeman found himself penniless in Highgate, he could have free drinks for himself and his friends, but if any money was found on him (or if it was found he had given it to his friends to hold) he had to buy a round of drinks for everyone in the pub
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