This Whitby ceremony dates back to 1159 and takes place every year, have you ever watched it?

Planting of the Penny Hedge in Whitby.
Planting of the Penny Hedge in Whitby.

It’s a ceremony that can be traced back to the year 1159, and is regarded as one of Yorkshire’s most quirky customs.

Next week will see the planting of the horngarth in the Penny Hedge festival, which takes place once each year.

Planting of the Penny Hedge in Whitby.

Planting of the Penny Hedge in Whitby.


Head down to the upper harbour in Whitby at 9am on Wednesday to see the ancient custom.


The story behind it concerns three noblemen who were hunting a wild boar, when it was reputed to have sought refuge with a hermit in Eskdaleside.


The three men attacked the hermit and killed him and the building of a hedge cut with a penny knife was undertaken as a punishment.

After the hunted boar apparently managed to escape its pursuers by hiding in a chapel, the noblemen were denied access to the building by a hermit.


In a fit of rage they rode him down with spears, mortally wounding him.


On his death bed, the hermit informed those responsible for his wounding that both they and their ancestors were to build a hedge capable of withstanding three tides as penance.


Last year there was a much-improved turnout as almost 200 people lined the upper harbour to witness the ancient custom.


A section of the crowd provided a rousing finale, performing a song marking the history of the ceremony.


The tradition was broadcast live on our Facebook page, where people watched on from locations around the UK and even the world, including Spain, Staffordshire and King’s Cross Station.