Sunday, 1 November 2015

(Considerably More than) Nine Men's Morris

I was just returning from my usual cup of tea and read at Rumbles Cafe on the Park, when I came across a tremendously colourful kerfuffle of ribbons and music at Oscar's pub.

It was a Morris Dancing performance, celebrating the bringing in of the hops.

"The Morris" is attested as far back as the 15th Century, but within the performance are elements of the celebration of life, death, and fertility that go way further back than that. I watched three sides in action, two of which seemed to be of the Cotswold school, and a third from the Border tradition.

When you watch it, and I hate to keep bringing this up, it is easy to be reminded of the more sinister folk traditions explored in "The Wicker Man" film; indeed some Morris does incorporate a hobby horse and a fool in drag rather like the film. There were violent moves, fierce banging of sticks, and what almost could be regarded as a dance ending with a symbolic beheading. There was none of your bells and hankie stuff of legend, this was far more powerful.

Playing in addition to the usual instruments was the strange and powerful call of the hurdy gurdy.

The weather was perfect for it; the sun shone down out of a sky that an hour before had been thick with mist. At 4pm I went cycling to the cafe again, and the mist emerged from the ground again in the space of five minutes. It created a wonderful soft light for me to read Ursula K. LeGuin by.

I didn't run or cycle properly. My back is twingey, and I feel somehow guilty for wasting the day.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 01.11.15

Some long stick dance

Steven Frisby swaps Steampunk for Morris

Border Morris

Much ale was being consumed

A more traditional outfit



Dancing commences

Chap with the flower seemed to be the leader of the dance


Some serious stick to ground bashing


A fresh side

The symbolism of the sashes and ribbons is beyond me

Hurdy gurdy practice

Band in action


  1. Nice to see a really thriving group - not so many of them about these days.

  2. Very enjoyable post, great photos!

  3. I love watching Morris Dancing (I never thought I would say that, my younger self would be cringing) Great costumes, music and banging of sticks!

  4. Thanks so much for commenting, it was certainly a very bright occasion, we don't get enough of those sort of aggro free occasions in town