The National Association of Men's Morris & Sword Dance Clubs

Longsword Dancing

Longsword dancers Although commonly referred to as 'Sword dancing, there are two distinct forms. The sword of the north east of England tends to be a double-handled flexible metal strip known as a rapper. In Yorkshire the implement is more sword-like, being single-handled, and rigid and called a longsword.

The dance is basically six or eight men in a circle, each holding the end of his neighbours sword. They perform circling and intertwining “figures” without breaking the circle or letting go the swords, except at the climax of the dance when the swords are interlocked to form the “lock” which is then held aloft.

The Handsworth Sword Team making the lock at the end of their dance (Castle Park Colchester) The traditional time of performance is Christmas and after, although, as with all the other dance forms, nowadays many teams may be seen throughout the year at festivals, fetes and concerts.

No bells are worn. While teams wear a variety of costumes, the most distinctive is that worn by Handsworth, a traditional team from Sheffield. There are other traditional teams at Grenoside and Goathland, and many revival teams.