Saturday, February 21, 2009

beating the bounds

Bartholomeo Eustachi (1500-1574), Tabulae Anatomicae

"In order that the boundaries of the parishes might be indelibly impressed on the minds of the younger portion of the community, it was deemed advisable to bump some promising boy painfully against the boundary stones; or better still, to publicly whip him while he strove to impress on his memory the exact position of the same landmarks."
--William Andews, Curiosities of the Church, 1895

"Children were originally the chief boundary-beaters thrashing away with their sticks on the relevant stone, tree, or other landmark which marked the edge of a town or parish. And the children were, in turn, beaten themselves, receiving a coin for their pains. Boys were pummelled with the sticks, ducked in waymarking ponds, dragged through intruding hedges, and even had to climb over building that straddled the boundary. This instilled in them a sense of place, with a wound for every landmark."
--Quentin Cooper, Maypoles, Martyrs & Mayhem: A Diverse and Diverting Guide to 366 Days of British Myths, Customs & Eccentricities

"... The outskirts are felt to be infected zones, where all kinds of monstrosities are possible, and where a different man is born, an aberrant from the prototype who inhabits the centre of things."
--Piero Camporesi, The Incorruptible Flesh: Bodily Modification and Mortification in Religion and Folklore

No comments: