Category Archives: folk


Sword dancing

1909 med

Handsworth Traditional Sword Dancers –

Handsworth is a suburb of Sheffield, in recent history a mining village. In this area there developed, some unknown time in the past, a sword dance for eight men, which is still performed today to the traditional pattern. The dancers wear dragoon-type uniforms and carry long-swords of inflexible steel about one metre in length. Shortly after the beginning of the ten-minute dance, they join to form a complete ring, and perform a series of complex ‘figures’, ending with a ‘lock’ of enmeshed swords, which can be carried aloft by one man. Traditionally performances take place at Christmas in the locality, and at functions and events by invitation at other places throughout the year.

…it is certainly one of the best and most inspiriting of the dances that still survive in Yorkshire

Cecil J. Sharp, The Sword Dances of Northern England, 3 pt. (London: Novello, 1911-13), III, page 37


The Flamborough Sword Dancers circa 1908. Since the early 1900’s the Flamborough sword dancing team’s costume comprises fisherman’s ganseys (the pattern unique to Flamborough), ‘white ‘ducks’ and flat caps. Photo by Richard Traves –

grenoside sword dancers in 1965

grenoside sword dancers circa1895

Grenoside Sword Dancers, circa 1895 –





Scottish sword dancers –


Fenestrelle Sword Dancers –


Flamborough Sword Dance –

costume folk

Viana do Bolo festival

© All rights reserved by carlos gonzález ximénez


folk mask

Fabric masks

TX 94

Artist Unknown

Pair of Fabric Masks (Male and Female)

c. Late 19th to early 20th century

From the Hammer Gallery.

costume film folk

Folk parade






Screencaps from the film TranSyvania via Christine (thanks!)


Allendale Parade, Northumberland, England


New Years Eve or Hogmanay is of course much more a celebration in the north than the south, and Allendale would feel the influences of Scotland strongly. There, celebrations start like elsewhere shortly before midnight, but as the New Year draws closer, local men known as “guisers” dressed in fancy dress carry flaming tar barrels in procession around the town on their head, eventually to be thrown into a celebratory bonfire as midnight strikes. Traditional first footing used to take place in outlying villages where open house was held for all the “guisers”. The first record of this celebration is recorded in the Hexham Courant of 1884 but was probably practiced well before that date. 
This photograph was included in the book by Homer Sykes “Once a Year: Some Traditional British Customs” (Gordon Faser, 1977)