Portland Beating the Bounds

Where: Isle of Portland, Dorset at the Bound Stone on Chesil Beach
When: Ascension Day every 7th year
Time: 10 am


Ascension Day was often the date set for boundary marking events to establish where the delineation between parishes and properties should be, and in a few places these still survive today. In Dorset, the inhabitants of the Isle of Portland mark their boundaries with officials of the Court Leet and the Head Boy and Girl from the local school. They gather at the Bound Stone on Chesil Beach and the pupils are ceremoniously beaten with the Reeve Staff (hopefully not too hard). Beatings or bumpings often feature in boundary marking events, perhaps as a way of teaching youngsters – current theory would suggest that they would remember where a beating had taken place so would know where the boundaries lay for future reference.

Helpful Hints

Ascension Day falls on a Thursday and is the 40th day after Easter. The Event always takes place on Ascension Day but only every 7 years – the last time it happened was in 2016 so the next one will be 2023 on Thursday 18th May.

Members of the public are welcome to attend the ceremony at a discreet distance; access to the Bound Stone involves a either a lengthy walk from the Chesil Beach Visitor Centre or a lift by boat. The ceremony lasts for approximately half an hour.

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