Dunting on Newbiggin Moor
This was an age-old tradition from Newbiggin-by-the-Sea.
St Bartholomew’s Church stands at Newbiggin Point on the Northumbrian coast, surrounded on three sides by the ocean. For seven centuries “The Church
in the Sea” has been a welcome landmark to fishermen and sailors returning to this little fishing village.
The ceremonial event of the year is the riding of the bounds and establishment of new freeholders, on the Wednesday in May nearest to the 18th.
This is the day on which, since 1235, the freeholders of Newbiggin have asserted their entitlement to their lands. Newcomers are initiated by a rite known as “dunting”, in which they are lifted by feet and shoulders and bounced three times against a stone – the Dunting Stone – on Newbiggin Moor.
The custom, an age-old tradition, was a necessity in the days before wide-spread literacy, as a means of impressing upon people the limits of land-holding or the boundaries of a parish. These days it is a festive occasion, accompanied by the scattering of nuts and raisins to make a scramble for children and adults alike.