Sunday, 17 April 2016

Beating the Bounds around Bridport

"Beating the bounds" is an ancient custom which was carried out to identify the boundaries of a parish. In ancient times this would have been carried out by young and old and the boundary marks would be struck by long sticks or in some parishes boys were beaten or bumped at each marker. Knowledge of the boundaries would be handed down from one generation to the next and it was also an opportunity to bless the fertility of the land.  

This tradition hasn't been carried out in Bridport for the last 12 years so when we were invited to take part we just had to join in!

The mayor (on the right) with the Town Crier.

One of the boundary markers

The Mayor and Borough Surveyor in boats
 In ancient times the boundary would be strictly followed no matter what stood in the way. Back in 1891 the Mayor and the Borough Surveyor had to cross a large Millpond in North Mills using a large wooden float. The float began to sink the mayor fell in the water and the Borough Surveyor needed rescuing, all of this was much to the amusement of the crowd. Luckily this year thanks to the sea cadets there were no accidents!

The Town  Crier awaiting their safe return


The boundary of the parish is around 7 miles (11km) in length. it was interesting to visit some areas where we had never wandered before and also enjoy seeing further signs of spring.
Some dogs came too!

The town of Bridport viewed from one of the hills.

Another thing I have always longed to do was to listen to the dawn chorus with an expert. So we got up at 4.45am one morning last week and joined with others at the Kingcombe Meadows Nature Reserve.



It was a crescendo of sound and it was quite difficult to identify the different bird songs, We heard over 15 different birds including wren, blackbirds, robins, black throat, mistle thrush, song thrush, great spotted woodpeckers, chiffchaff, great tit, rook, goldcrest, pigeon,nuthatch and a swallow.


Has anyone heard the cuckoo yet or seen their first swallow? As we drove home after a good breakfast we spotted a jay and a hare, it was a wonderful end to a early start!

Do you recognise any bird songs or calls?  We are already able to identify more sounds. We were told the best time to learn the sounds was in the winter when there are fewer birds around and when they can be easier to spot.

Thank you for visiting, wishing you a fun week ahead.
Sarah x

39 comments:

  1. I'd have loved to have done your dawn chorus trip. I so often lie awake in bed trying to identify the birds I can hear and never manage them all. I must look and see if there is anything like that down here, I'm sure there must be.

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    1. Hi Jessica, The Wildlife Trusts in your area will usually be running these trips at this time of year, although they can get booked up well in advance. Sarah

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  2. Beating the bounds is a lovely tradition. And I'm very impressed with your early start to hear the birdsong. I was up at 5am last week and the birds were singing their hearts out, it was amazing. I'm no good at identifying them though. There have been swallows around for a week or two, and apparently there's been a cuckoo at the wetlands place that we go to as well. Hope you have a good week. CJ xx

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  3. Wonderful traditions. Thought the people were going to sing in the morning.

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  4. I'd never heard of Bridport having a beating the bounds, but really glad they do and you got to see and be part of it...particularly a little white dog (if I'm correct) ;)

    Oh, and hands up here for my first swallow, saw it today.

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  5. It is great to keep the traditions going. The morming chorus was spectacular!

    Have a wonderful week.

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  6. I certainly heard a blackbird..... But your bird calls were competing with ours outside - many nesting seagulls....

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  7. We do not have cuckoos on this side of the pond! I love the early morning bird song. It was the first thing I noticed the first morning in this house 35 years ago. We'd lived in a more urban area before with no mature trees. Walking the boundaries sounds like a lovely way to get to know your new village.

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  8. A lovely post. That is great that 'Beating the Bounds' has taken place around Bridport. I have an old book of my parish where a local rector has written (in 1818) a description of 'Beating the Bounds' here. It's not easy to follow the route on the map because of so many changes, but some things, including some names, are still the same.
    The dawn chorus is just beautiful. No cuckoo here yet, but our swallows are back.

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  9. I love the idea of beating the bounds. I'm impressed that you got up so early to hear the dawn chorus. It's a wonderful experience, isn't it? I did it a few times when I was younger. I saw my first swallow last weekend (on 9th April) but haven't heard a cuckoo for a couple of years, sadly. Have a good week. Sam x

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  10. Hey Sarah,
    I do enjoy these traditions. It's great to keep them alive. We have several in St Ives, but I'd not heard of beating the bounds before. I recognise some of the more common birdsong, but I often get them mixed up. I've not seen a swallow yet, but that may just be down to me. I heard a cuckoo last week, for only the second time in my life. Both at the allotment.
    Leanne xx

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  11. That's a great tradition and good to see still going too. Glad you got to do the dawn chorus walk - I'm not very good at those as I'm really not a morning person, but it's lovely when you do get to hear the dawn chorus!

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  12. Oh dearest Sarah, that was so lovely. I feel as if I'm taken away to your homeland through this little video and the gentleness of your photos. Both man and beast (little dogs!), enjoy a walk through ancient paths and time-worn cliffs. What a great place to live. AND...thank you so much for coming to visit my post! ANita

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  13. Interesting, Sarah! Thanks for posting. I am not good at identifying bird songs, but I love to hear them sing. I used to listen to a classical music station that started their morning programing with recorded bird songs...a lovely way to start the day! Happy Spring! xx

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  14. Your photo of the town is amazing!! I am trying to think which hill you might be up?! Looking forward to being back in July, roll on Summer xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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    1. It was taken from Jubliee Green at the entrance to Allington Hill Woodland Trust Reserve. If you haven't been up that way for a while you should visit in the summer,the Allington Hillbillies have done some amazing work there. Sarah x

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  15. I love dropping in for my "English" fix!

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  16. What a fascinating post. I have heard of the custom but it must have been great fun to join in. You really are a morning person to get up early to hear the dawn chorus. I like to listen from my bed! Saw a hare belt across a field the other day. We don't have them in Jersey so it was a very special sight. B X

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  17. Oh yes, we hear the cuckoo and a lot of birds. Our house is at the woodside, very windy and sometimes wet. Not easy for gardening. First I must look, what boundary means ;)

    Sigrun

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  18. Dear Sarah,
    our swallows came back on the 4th of April. Very early this year. We also hear the woodpecker, they work in the neighbourhood. Very, very early in the morning sometimes we can hear the nightingale. The sound of nature is amazing.

    Great week for you my friend Sarah, hugs Barbara

    PS:
    What´s going on in the garden. Well, April is a great month!

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    1. I have longed to hear the nightingale. We did try and find one last year and even the dog found the wood which was getting darker by the minute frightening! Sarah x

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  19. I hadnt heard of Bridport's beating the bounds before. When I lived in Poole many years ago they used to beat the bounds, partly by sea I think. Your views of Bridport from the surrounding hills are very good, I havent seen the town from that vantage point.

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  20. Dear Sarah - I love your early morning misty photos, that is the time to awake up, get out, and take photographs.
    Your Town Crier looks a very jolly fellow.
    When we lived in Northumberland Beating the Bounds happened on horse back rather than in boats.

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    1. Yes we do have a very jolly town crier. Tavi was a bit unsure of him when he was wearing his clock and ringing his bell! It's just as well we weren't riding horses otherwise we wouldn't been able to join in. Sarah x

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  21. What happened if there were disagreements about the parish boundaries? Some beating of heads? I would love to have a bird song identification trip. I know some, but so many are a mystery to me.

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  22. I think it is great to preserve the old traditions like the one you describe. I love getting up early in the morning and having a wander round the garden listening to things. Round our way you can always hear the sound of cars on the motorway (about a mile distant), but there are lots of birds too. We are lucky enough to have lots of Jays around here. They are beautiful, but very timid, unlike their raucous and aggressive cousins the Magpies. We had Bluetits nesting again in a nest-box I made last year. amazingly it was occupied almost immediately after I put it up.

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    1. You don't often see Jays around here, they sound much nicer than the Magpies. My nephew too lives quite close to the M3 where a water main burst a few weeks ago flooding the motorway. Sarah x

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  23. Sarah, I thought you might be interested to read about "Beating the Leat" in Tiverton, described in the article here: http://www.westernmorningnews.co.uk/Town-clerk-looking-forward-taste-ancient-leat-ceremony/story-11742290-detail/story.html
    I went to school at Blundells School, which is mentioned in the text.

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    1. Thank you for this link, I enjoyed reading it. Sarah x

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  24. Very interesting slice of history as always. I also love the idea of getting up to listen to a dawn chorus...there is something magical about being up at dawn with the birds.

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  25. Interesting history! To answer your question, yes the Sabia from Brazil is incredible! I am not very good in recognizing bird songs unfortunately

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  26. Heard our first cuckoo this year on 3rd April but it's been all quiet since. The next one I look out for is the Hoopoe.

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  27. Hi Sarah
    I think it is wonderful that these old traditions are still going strong and that you were able to take part. The birdsong video was amazing, so many different birds and the cacophony of song, although when it wakes you early every morning you do sometimes wish they would leave their cheery chorus till a little later! We saw our direst swallow on Sunday always nice to see them return.

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  28. I just left a comment over at Draffin Bears and noticed you had left one too so I came to say hello. I’m really glad I did as I so enjoyed this post. We lived in Dorset until six years ago when we moved just over the border into Somerset (sadly not close to the sea). I walk in the fields close to where I live most days but am yet to see a swallow or hear the cuckoo – it must be any day soon so I will keep listening and looking. Barbara http://marchhousebookscom.blogspot.co.uk/

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  29. What fun to take part in such an old tradition. Lovely photographs as ever.

    I heard a cuckoo yesterday, although it was only one call at the far side of our wooded hill.

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  30. So lovely pictures! Beautiful...a nice post from you :)
    Have a great weekend now and take care.
    Titti

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  31. dear Sarah,

    I enjoyed reading about the history and seeing your lovely photos and what a fun day you must have had. Great to get up early and it really is the best time of the day. The dawn chorus is beautiful and thanks for sharing.
    Happy Sunday
    hugs
    Carolyn

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  32. Cuckoos and swallows both back here. Am waiting on white throats now. I've done beating the bounds before- great fun. Super post, Sarah x

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