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Parish boundaries were determined by negotiation between villages from the time of the Anglo Saxon settlement. Initially, they probably followed physical features that were obvious in the landscape, such as streams, hills prehistoric features and old trackways. Every year they were 'reaffirmed' by the ceremony of 'beating the bounds' in which the villagers, led by their priest and churchwarden, processed along the boundary, stopping at various points to emphasise forcibly to the young people where their territory ended and that of their neighbours began. Where there were no obvious physical markers, notable ancient trees were used and these were marked on the first Ordnance Survey maps. Land ownership seldom crossed the parish boundary because the original demarkation was associated with maintaining sufficient natural resources to maintain community selfsufficiency.

"The "beating of bounds " which took place on the Rogation Days, traced to those Litanies which were ordered by Mamertus, Bishop of Vienne, c. 470, took a mixed multitude annually over brook and pale, by where in Cratfield the tall trees on Silverleys Green mark the watershed between the Waveney and the Blyth, back to the "Gylde Halle," whence the start would be pretty sure to be made. The reader of these financial items will soon be face to face with " pullerers," or with " them that went a polloren," in which rugged terms some would fail to recognise the French pelerirz, still less the English pilgrim or the Latin peregrinus" (Raven).

In the above map a section of the parish boundary between Linstead Magna and Cratfield has been marked in purple. For the most part it follows a stream which is one of the significant tributaries of the River Blyth which runs off the clayland watershed through Huntingfield and Cookley.

Part of parish boundary between Cratfield and Huntingfield.
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In this early OS map, part of the parish boundary between Cratfield and Huntingfield has been marked in red. It curves across two rectangular fields dividing them into three compartments numbered 116 and 117 (Cratfield Tithe Map) and 209 and 210 (Huntingfield Tithe Map). It is reasonable to assume that the curving boundary separating the two communities at this point pre-dates the laying out of the fields. The puzzle is, what was the non-linear feature that was recognisable to the villagers as marking the ends of their parish? Also how did the farmers cultivating parts of these two fields know where their ownership ended? The linear division between the two fields with its trees is still recognisable on the Google satellite map of Cratfield as a footpath, which still has the five trees marked on the OS map. A marker has been added to the Google tile showing where the parish boundary crossed this community path between the two villages.

















Parish boundary fence 1812 Adair estate map
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