The practice of walking around the boundary of a place or property is thought to have started with the Romans, who did it in order to pay homage to Terminus, the god of boundaries and landmarks. In England, 'Riding the Bounds', as it is also known, is a custom which originates from at leat the thirteenth century, possibly before. The purpose of the walk, or riding, was to reaffirm the boundary and to ensure that it had not been encroached upon by landowners or by another adjacent parish. Those who had altered or transgressed the boundary were denounced or cursed. Bread, cheese, nuts nd ale were consumed along the way and money was thrown in the air for the younger participants to scramble for.

In Richmond the custom of Boundary Riding takes places every seven years. The procession leaves the Town Hall, with the Pinder at the front. The Pinder ensures that the way is clear and he removes, dismantles or demolishes any obstacles he may find with an axe. Behind the Pinder is the Bannerman, the Sergeant-at-Mace, the Town Mayor and the Town Crier. Proclamations are made along the way by the Town Crier, who also acts as Water Wader when the boundary which runs through the centre of the River Swale is walked. Whilst doing this it is customary for the Water Wader to carry the Town Mayor into the water. The boundary extends for about 14 miles.

The next Boundary Riding will take place on 24th August 2011 and it is anticipated that there will be up to 750 people, mainly residents of the towwn, taking part. For those who complete the walk in its entirety, and who sign the register at the completion of the walk, a certificate signed by the Town Mayor and the Town Clerk, will be presented.

Thanks to Roy Cross, former Mayor of Richmond, whose work these notes are largely based upon.