Terminalia Walking Festival
Sunday 23 rd February 2020
“Beating the Bounds” of Rodborough Parish
In honour of the Roman God of boundaries we will walk around the limits of the parish of Rodborough.
Parishes were once very important administrative areas and ceremonially walking the boundaries of a parish (known as “Beating the Bounds”) was a significant local custom in many places. Important boundary landmarks such as trees or stones would be ceremonially beaten with birch or willow rods. Sometimes young boys (typically choir boys) would also be ceremonially beaten at key places (supposedly to ensure that they would remember the parish boundaries!).
On this walk we intend to revive certain aspects of this custom for one day. Specifically, walking the boundary and beating key landmarks, but most definitely NOT beating young boys. As we progress there will be discussions and performative celebration of local matters, historical, political, industrial, cultural, geological, ecological and mythological. The boundary of Rodborough parish follows canals and disused railway lines, makes steep ascents and descents of beautiful Cotswold valleys and crosses the limestone grassland of an ancient common.
Approximately 8 miles. Allow 6 hours. Bring refreshments and food. Towpaths and footpaths and some very steep climbs / descents. Several stiles to cross.
The walk will start and end at Stroud Railway station.
Map ref SO 84973 05124. Meet in the forecourt for a 10.00 am start.
Contact Bob Fry firstname.lastname@example.org
Beating the Bounds of Rodborough
A free verse Perambulation by Stuart Butler
The origin of beating the parish boundaries
Is, of course, lost in the proverbial mists:
The Roman festival of Terminalia,
Anglo-Saxon affirmation of place,
The Christian ceremony of Rogation-tide …
But I think you can beat the boundaries
Whenever you like, with whoever you like,
At the drop of a Rodborough bobble hat.
You could start at the watery history
Of mill and factory Dudbridge,
Then walk past street names like Spillmans,
As you progress along the Bath Road turnpike,
Past the ghost sites of old toll houses,
And thence to Walbridge to skirt the canal,
Or River Frome or Great Western Railway,
To gaze up at Woodhouse, Rodborough Common,
Butterow Hill and Bagpath.
Then ascend Swells Hill, past Bownham;
On past Houndscroft, above the Nailsworth Valley,
To Rooksmoor and Kingscourt;
Your bounds direct you through Lightpill,
No ifs but The Butts above high above you,
And so back to Dudbridge.
On the way, you could say a prayer
In a couple of churches,
Bless the crops in a couple of allotments,
Have a pint in a couple of pubs or a hotel,
Have an ice cream at Winstone’s,
Or even write a record of your parish walk,
Your own beating the bounds act of heritage.
‘The end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.’ (T.S. Eliot)