A handful of people turned out to watch one of Whitby’s oldest traditions this morning with calls for it to be put on the curriculum in local schools to raise awareness of it.
Around 20 people lined the harbourside at Church Street to witness the planting of the hedge on the bank of the River Esk.
It is a custom carried out by Lol Hodgson, the Bailiff of the Manor of Fylingthorpe, assisted by hornblower Tim Osborne.
Legend has it that the hedge, made out of woven willow stakes must withstand three tides and the reference to penny is because a knife of a penny price must be used.
Once the hedge has been constructed, a horn is sounded and followed by the cry “Out on ye! Out on ye! Out on ye!”.
The tradition is carried out at 9am every year on Ascension Eve and has been since 1159.
According to Whitby Museum, the story goes that the Lord of Ugglebarnby, then called William de Bruce, the Lord of Sneton, called Ralph de Percy, with a gentleman and a freeholder called Allatson to meet and hunt a wild boar.
They went to a wood at Eskdale-Side belonging to the Abbot of the Monastery of Whitby. The Abbot’s name was Sedman.
With their hounds and having found a great wild boar, the hounds ran him well near about the chapel and hermitage of Eskdale-Side, where was a Monk of Whitby, who was a Hermit.
The boar was taken in by the monk but died soon after. The gentleman followed their hounds to the hermitage found the boar lying dead and ran violently at the Hermit with their boar-staves, whereby he died soon after.
On his deathbed the Hermit called for the Abbott but spared the same fate for his attackers by ordering this penance instead. If it was not carried out (only for high tide at that time) they would forfeit their lands.
There has over the years been some dispute over the accuracy of the story but not the history of the ceremony itself taking place.
It was felt by some at Wednesday’s event there should be more local recognition of the custom, especially in schools.
David Owen said: “It is one of the oldest traditions yet goes unnoticed. We would like to make more of it next year.”