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The Independent Online
Combe Martin in Devon will celebrate this weekend with an annual treat. A bizarre masked figure wearing a necklace of biscuits will be hunted, paraded backwards on a donkey, and symbolically shot and drowned to general village merriment. This is known as the Hunting of the Earl of Rone, and is believed either to be the re-enactment of the capture of a shipwrecked Irish rebel (the Earl of Tyrone), or to have earlier, pagan origins, when a wild man of the woods was hunted and ritually sacrificed. Participants at the event keep up their strength by eating a giant strawberry cake and visiting various pubs, including the 200-year-old Pack o' Cards, which was built with the winnings from a game of cards and represents the diners' favourite pastime.

This weekend and Bank Holiday Monday at Combe Martin, Devon. Saturday, 8pm: dance to the Earl of Rone Band at the Town Hall. Sunday, 2.30pm: procession on the beach. Monday, 6pm: the Earl is hunted in Lady's Wood and taken through the village. Earl of Rone Society, 01271 882524.

Sally Kindberg

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