About Morris Dancing at Wessex


This is just a brief introduction to morris dancing.There have been many books written on the subject, try Googling. You could also visit the Morris Ring website which has lots of information. Below are some answers to the questions we often get asked while we are out performing, though rather than plagiarize other people's material, here are some starters in your research.

You could do much worse than look at Roy Dommet's page.

Why is it Called Morris?

Ah well, nobody really knows. Popular explanations are that it comes from Moorish dancers, that it is a corruption of morisco, or... Try Googling for Morris origins.


You could try the entry in Wikipedia...... but there's lots out there on the web, some possible, some nonsense. A graphic arrow

Some Terms

OK, so we are a morris side (team). We dance dances from a range of traditions (named after the Cotswold villages where the dances were originally performed). Our side has the following officers:

The Squire, responsible for our performance and leader of the side
The Foreman, responsible for teaching the dances and in charge of practice sessions
The Bagman, is the secretary of the side and responsible for bookings and so on
The Treasurer, looks after the financial side of things
We also have a deputy foreman and a deputy squire, also a fool, supposed to be the best dancer and who acts as a go-between with the audience; also a keeper of the squire's music (head musician). There are presently two animals, Cadbury (a horse) and the Ooser (you tell me!) both of which you can read about in the about us page. A graphic arrow

The Music

Our music is close to that collected from the original sides, and is now available in MP3, PDF score and ABC computer notation on the Morris Ring website. If you download an ABC player, you can see and print the tunes in musical notation, or play them through your computer.
We use instruments that are representative of the various periods in morris history. Most of our music is played on the melodeon ( diatonic button accordion rather than an organ). The earliest known morris instrument was (is) the pipe and tabor, followed by the fiddle. We do not presently have a concertina player playing for us.

The Dances

We dance quite a wide range of dances, currently from 12 main traditions. A graphic arrow

Tradition Dance Tradition Dance
Adderbury Fieldtown
Postman's Knock Balance the Straw
Lads a Bunchem Country Gardens
Shooting The Rose
Shepherds Hey The Valentine
Princess Royal Banks of the Dee
Constant Billy Shepherds Hey
Sweet Jenny Jones Dearest Dicky
Bluebells of Scotland Headington
Bampton Laudnum Bunches
Rose Tree Bean Setting
Shepherds Hey Rodney
Step and Fetch Her Constant Billy
The Quaker Hunt the Squirrel
Bledington Litchfield
Trunkles Ring o' Bells
Black Joker Millie's Bequest
Young Collins Sherriff's Ride
William and Nancy Vandals of Hammerwich
Cuckoo's Nest Sherbourne
Lass of Richmond Hill Monk's March
Brackley Orange in Bloom
Jockey to the Fair Upton on Severn
Bucknell Stick Dance
Saturday Night Various
Queen's Delight The Maid and the Palmer (Badby)
Ducklington Three Sheepskins
Princess Royal Dorset four Hand Reel
Lollipop Man The Giant (Cerne Abbas)
Nutting Girl Brighton Camp (Eynsham)
Ilmington Processionals
Maid o' the Mill Bonny Green Garters (Bampton)
Cuckoo's Nest Wheatley Processional
Hey Diddle Diss
Winster Processional

A Fertility Rite?

Again, who knows? (but probably not). The dance seems originally to have been motivated by the need for money at times of the agricultural year when work was short. A graphic arrow