Excitement building at upcoming return for Berwick's Riding of the Bounds

Organisers are hoping for a large turnout as Berwick’s Riding of the Bounds will soon return for the first time since 2019.

By Andrew Coulson
Wednesday, 13th April 2022, 11:00 am
Participants in Berwick Riding of the Bounds 2019. Picture by Jane Coltman.
Participants in Berwick Riding of the Bounds 2019. Picture by Jane Coltman.

The major event could not take place in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid-19 restrictions. This year, it will be held on Saturday, April 30.

The annual 17-mile rideout around the town’s ancient boundaries attracts dozens of horses and riders.

Today’s border between England and Scotland was defined in a truce in 1438. However, it was not legally binding and in 1542, it was stated that the ‘Bounds’ were ‘to be perambulated so often as to keep them well known’. This would have been carried out by the town’s garrison.

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Horses crossing a river during a previous Riding of the Bounds.

It was 1609 when the first formal ‘Riding of the Bounds’ took place and the previous two years are among the rare times that the ceremony has been cancelled over the years.

Nowadays, the tradition is continued more as a social event and this year’s participants are set to ride from the Barracks to the Town Hall between 10am and 10.30am where Berwick’s Mayor, Coun Alan Bowlas, will be asked for permission to check the boundaries.

Permission is given and the riders set off. At lunchtime there is a break at Gainslaw Hill Farm for refreshments and pony games and the riders are expected to be back in the town centre at around 4pm to inform the Mayor that the boundaries are secure for another year.

Linda Fiddes, chairman of organisers the Berwick Riders’ Association, said that the Bishop of Berwick (Rt Revd Mark Wroe) will be attending to bless the horses.

She added: “We are delighted to be coming back this year and have everything in place for an amazing day, which happens to be the first common ride to take place in the country since 2019.

“We hope to see a good turnout of horses and spectators on the day, and this will be a boost for a number of businesses in the town after a difficult couple of years due to the effects of Covid-19 restrictions.

“We are grateful to everyone who has supported us, including the support we have received from all of our sponsors and Friends of the Bounds.”

The principal party for the 2022 event is as follows – Chief Marshal: Julia Szoneberg; Right Hand Man: Kieran Dodds; Left Hand Man: Courtnay Grey.