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Last Updated: Saturday, 7 June, 2003, 17:15 GMT 18:15 UK
Boys 'bounced' in bizarre tradition
Boy being bounced
Part of the ceremony involves boys being bounced on stones
A bizarre 14th century tradition which involves bouncing children on stones has been re-enacted in a south Wales town.

Hundreds of people turned up to take part in the generations-old Beating the Bounds tradition of walking the boundary Llantrisant, near Pontypridd, on Saturday.

Around 500 completed the seven mile walk to mark out the town's border.

The event - which happens every seven years - involves a curious tradition of bouncing young boys on boundary stones so the children would remember where the edge of town lay.

This year the "honour" of being the first boy bounced on the stones was given to 10-year-old Marc Kelly.

He was picked up by two men, one picking him up by the shoulders and the other by his feet and his backside was bounced on the stone
Howard Thomas, Llantrisant Town Trust

His grandfather Howard Thomas is clerk of Llantrisant Town Trust.

"He was picked up by two men, one picking him up by the shoulders and the other by his feet and his backside was bounced on the stone," said Mr Thomas.

Pain

"It has always been done because when the tradition started, people couldn't read and write down where the boundary was, so they used to bounce a boy on the stones so he would remember.

The Beating of the Bounds started after King Edward 1 presented the townsfolk with their first Charter in 1346.

He allowed them the freedom to trade without paying tolls within the boundaries of the town.

The tradition started as a celebration of these freemen's rights.

Procession through Llantrisant
The procession will invade farmhouses and people's living rooms

"They used to do it quite hard because they always said that a bit of pain helped the memory go a long way, but it isn't done as hard as that now," added Mr Thomas.

"But I do know some of the old men here who still remember the pain of it now."

The first freemen to be enrolled in the order were probably veterans of the Battle of Crecy in 1346.

Llantrisant was known for its army of longbow men and excellence in archery, which played a major role in defeating the French.

Today there are more than 2,000 descendants who have enrolled as freemen.

Their rights over the 300 acres of common land jointly owned by them are protected by Llantrisant Town Trust which has organised this year's ceremony.

boy being bounced
The tradition survived 650 years

"It is a really great day out and everyone looks forward to it," said Mr Thomas.

Royal Mint

"We usually have about 14,000 people in the town over the weekend of the Beating of the Bounds and depending on the weather, around 500 do the walk."

The procession saw people invading farmhouses, people's living rooms, the Royal Mint, Royal Glamorgan Hospital, and a golf course which has been built on the old boundary line.

"It is a real high point on the social calendar and the town has been known to run dry on the Beating of the Bounds day," said Mr Thomas.

"Since 1901, apart from the war years, the tradition has gone on every seven years without fail."

The day's events included a children's choir performing in a huge marquee on the Castle Green and an evening concert by Llantrisant Male Voice Choir and the RAF St Athan Volunteer Band.




WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC Wales' Abigail Neal
"It's a celebration of the rights given to the town's Freemen"



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