Excitement mounts over upcoming comeback for Berwick riding of limits

Participants in Berwick Riding of the Bounds 2019. Photo by Jane Coltman.

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

The annual 27km ride around the old city limits attracts dozens of horses and riders.

The present boundary between England and Scotland was defined in a truce in 1438. However, it was not legally binding and in 1542 it was declared that the ‘Bounds’ should ‘be traveled over so often that they were well known”. This would have been carried out by the city garrison.

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Horses crossing a river during a previous boundary riding.

It was in 1609 that the first official “Riding of the Bounds” took place and the previous two years are among the few times the ceremony has been canceled over the years.

Nowadays the tradition continues more as a social event and this year’s attendees are expected to travel from the barracks to Town Hall between 10am and 10.30am, where Berwick Mayor Councilor Alan Bowlas meets will be asked for permission to check the limits.

The authorization is given and the runners set off. At lunchtime there is a break at Gainslaw Hill Farm for refreshments and pony play and riders are expected to be back in the town center around 4pm to advise the mayor that the boundaries are secure for a another year.

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

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

“We hope to see a good turnout of horses and spectators on this day, and it will be a boost for a number of businesses in the town after a difficult few 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 main party for the 2022 event is as follows – Chief Marshal: Julia Szoneberg; Right arm: Kieran Dodds; Left arm: Courtnay Grey.

Clyde P. Johnson