Scotch-Irish-L Archives

Archiver > Scotch-Irish > 1998-02 > 0886820461


From: John Giacoletti <>
Subject: Celtic Dances
Date: Fri, 6 Feb 1998 22:01:01 -0500


Tracy wrote:

I wonder if this type of dance is a lingering tradition of the Britons of
Strathclyde and old Cumbria. I wonder if it is known predominantly in the
east or the west of this area? Mostly I wonder, where can I read more about

this?!

The ring dances of pagan origin which you refer to may be English Longsword
dances. I am not knowledgeable with that type of dancing but you may be
able to find out more using a search engine on the internet. The dancers
form a ring and each dancer holds a sword at the hilt. Each dancer then
extends the sword he is holding to the right . The dancer to the right
grasps the extended sword by the blade, thus making a linked chain of
dancers and swords. The swords are alternately lowered and raised for the
dancers to dance over or under the swords in sequence.

You might also check out the topic Morris Dancing on the internet.

Tacitus the Roman Historian records that when the Romans invaded Britain in
54 B.C. they saw Caledonians dancing in and out among upturned swords and
spears. This seems very similar to the several descriptions that you
recall.

Almost every year the Black Watch, Royal 42nd Regiment, tours the U.S. and
Canada. If you go, you can see quite able demonstrations of the martial
elements of Highland Dancing. The solo Highland Sword Dance Gille Calum
is always performed usually by 3 men who dance individually over the
crossed swords.
Argyll Broadswords is performed by 4 men as a unit with each man stationed
at the end of a cross pattern. Each points his sword towards the middle
and the swords are placed point to point on the stage floor in a cross
shape. The men dance over the swords changing from one section to another
and also reel about the outside handle edges of the patterns. These are
vigorous and martial dances a spectacular to see the marvelous timing and
phrasing of the dancing units.

Adult men and women also demonstrate the Highland Dances on the Video
Highland Fling. This video was produced by the Stirling Branch of the
Royal Scottish Country Dance Society. It costs $29.95 plus postage and you
can order it from Alberene Royal Mail in Harrisville, NH (1-800-843-9078).

Hope this helps a bit.

John Giacoletti

This thread: