Beating the Bounds

Long tail back of walkers!

Long tail back of walkers!

Today is the first day of a new way of working for me. Working in silence.
It’s very odd. It’s very quiet. Yesterday was full of noise and bustle because we had the seven-yearly parish beating of the bounds.

Many years ago this tradition was created in order that the people of the parish knew exactly where their boundaries were. Some reckon it was so that people knew where they should pay their tithes and where they ought to be buried. Well, possibly. This being Devon, I think it’s more likely that the locals thought it was a good idea to see where the boundary stones were in order to make sure those thieving foreigners from the next patch didn’t steal their land. Well, you can’t trust the volks in Belstone!

Not quite the youngest on the walk!

Not quite the youngest on the walk!

The village before the off

The village before the off

It always used to involve the oldest and youngest.

In fact there is a tradition that the youngest in the village should be beaten on the stones until they cry, so that they remember very distinctly where the stones stand. We didn’t do that – but the oldest and youngest on the walk were seated on the first of the granite stones so that they could be photographed!
For our parish, the beating of the bounds is a lengthy job. It starts in a village, wanders along the main road, up over the old mine, and from there goes straight out to the moors. A hard walk then begins, with about seven miles marching over the high moor. It is not for the faint-hearted!
On the way, the children are given paint brushes and paint, and they mark off each of the boundary stones, filling in the chiselled lettering so that everyone can see to where the parish extends. And when they’re all marked, there’s a set of marquees, roasting lambs over an open fire, beer, cider – and soft drinks for the children.

Oh, and there was a tug-o-war as usual, over the river so that the losers had the forfeit of a dunking in the river!
It was a brilliant day, and all the better because it came after a couple of days of intense frustration.

A wonderful day!

A wonderful day ending in a tug-o-war!

This year, as regular readers will know, I’ve been suffering from computer failures. It all ended up with me having to buy a new computer. Which would have been fine, but then that went wrong and I was unable to read or write on it. However, after a marathon Support session with Apple, all now appears to be well, which is a huge relief.
But it is very quiet. My wife has started a new job today, and both children are away at college now. Which means both that they are growing up, and that I am clearly becoming old!
Still, at least I’m fit enough so that I can still walk the parish boundary!

And now, the computer’s working again, my fingers are flying over the keys, and I have a book to finish before starting the next one! Wish me luck!


18 Responses to “Beating the Bounds”
  1. lorsplace says:

    Ah, Michael… what an idyllic historyscape you live in. Perfect for a writer and artist whose imagination and talent knows ‘no bounds’ !!

    I just finished King’s Gold (my first Michael Jecks novel) and loved it on many levels. I’m embarrassed to admit, I’ve had it in my hands, er… bookbag, since Bloody Words 2012 in Toronto and only recently (while laid up with a knee injury) sought it out for a read. For some reason, I had in my mind it would be a dry, historical, sword-fighting tome, more fit for the manly persuasion to read. Ha! Couldn’t have been more wrong.

    The book is an absolute treat to read from start to finish. Your characters took hold from the get-go and slinked, trudged, stormed through the pages of this mysterious and fascinating time tale. Of particular excitement to me was the brief mention of Corfe and the castle. I’ve been researching my ancestors and found they lived on the Dorset coast, Isle of Purbeck, Langton Matravers – just a footpath and Nine Barrow Down from Corfe Castle. Suddenly, I was imagining my great, great, great grans populating your story.

    You are truly gifted, and I’m so pleased to have finally discovered what I was missing! Now I’m ready to purchase another… and another… Any suggestions as to what to read next?

    Thanks for all your inspiring witterings,


    *Lorie Lee Steiner, newest member of the Michael Jecks cheering section. :)


  2. Me Too says:

    Is it true, Michael, that you had suggested solar powered GPS be placed by the boundary stones for next year so that you could rally round the computer to check the boundaries?


  3. Lindsey Russell says:

    Yes, what a beautiful village (I’m house hunting remember and recognized it from all the property searches I’ve been doing) as are the surrounding villages. Very inspiring for a writer with that backdrop of hills and moor, I’m green with envy.


    • We are very lucky – days like that are gorgeous out here. Although they are rather rare with our rainfall!


      • Lindsey Russell says:

        Dratted machines! I see yours has gone down then come back again – mine keeps losing its ‘history’, not good when i’m searching property sites every day and need to know where I left off fromm the day before.


      • Ugh, horrible situation to be in. It was bad enough losing all my data, but losing history would drive me potty!


  4. Lindsey Russell says:

    Re your tweet from yesterday. I don’t buy a Sunday paper but had to pop out for some batteries for the mouse so looked at the front page headlines, one read: ‘Red and Buried’ – says it all really, not my party but you can’t help feel sorry for them. And with all those deserters do I see a rebellion in the not too distant future?


  5. Lindsey Russell says:

    Is my computer throwing a wobbly? I can’t see any text for ‘How to nail a first draft’.


  6. Adam says:

    This was lovelyy to read


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