Abbots Bromley Horn Dance
The Abotts Bromley horn dance is a Morris type dance performed
in the small English village of Abbots Bromley each year. It has a rich
and ancient history going back centuries. It is done all day, going from
house to house as a fundraiser for the local church. Large Antlers, elaborate
costumes, and much mirth accompany it. The Characters are six antler carryers,
Maid Marion, Robin Hood, the Hobby Horse, and the Fool.
(above) Maid Marion, Robin Hood, the Hobby Horse, and the
Various musicians and performers accompany the dancers who
walk in step in a line stopping occasionally to perform the dance maneuver.
(above) A drummer, accordionist, and juggler follow dancers.
Through the course of the dance they form a circle, and on
cue reverse themselves and form two lines. They approach each other, feign
attack and retreat. Approach and clack antlers and retreat. Approach and
pass by each other. Then approach and clack antlers again.
The leader then cuts outward and they form a traveling line
in step again.
The dance is traditionally performed to the haunting sound
of Robinsons tune (below) it can also be done to "Pop Goes the Weasel".
The cue to begin step three (the circle reversal) is the first Cminor phrase.
The last eight measures are the heart of the dance- feign, clack, pass by,
and clack. While walking they are played once. during the dance they are
played twice to accommodate the four main dance moves.
In modern times, Neopagans have embraced the dance and its
symbolic roots. The six antlered characters represent the forces of wild
nature and the dance itself mimics male deer greeting behavior in the woods.
The other characters represent archetypical forces:
Maid Marion as the Goddess
Robin Hood as the God and hunting societies
The Hobby Horse as domesticated agriculture
The Fool as the union of all these forces in a spiritual context.
In the dance the Fool meets Maid Marion (spiritual forces)
The Hobby Horse meets Robin Hood (agricultural society meets the God of
While the true roots of the dance and its beginnings are unknown,
the symbolism and movements appear ancient. The dance is still performed
in England and is a boisterous affair that draws thousands to the small
hamlet. In Neopagan interpretation it is often performed slowly and solemnly.
The best time is at dusk. It is performed as if there is no audience. The
dance goes forth because it has to. It is symbolic of the forces of life
itself, and like a tree falling in the woods goes on whether you are there
to witness it or not!
Dance instruction (below)
Many thanks to Steven Posche, master story teller,
teacher, and ritualist. He brought this dance to the Midwest Pagan community
and inspired me to pick up my accordian and learn and teach it!
For more info contact:
or visit: Staffodshire
Long Tall Sword
Horn Dance Page