Project BritainProject Britain

British Life and Culture

by Mandy Barrow

What's happening this month? | Jan | Feb | Mar | Aprl | May | Jun | Jul | Aug | Sept| Oct | Nov | Dec
British life and culture - England, Scotland and Wales
May Day - Morris Dancing

Introduction to May Day | Maypole Dancing | Morris Dancing

May Day in the Past | May Day Today | Well Dressing

A traditional dance seen throughout the month of May is Morris Dancing. It is a traditional English form of folkdancing, performed by groups of men or women.

You can see many different groups of Morris Dancers performing at the Rochester Sweeps Festival every May.

Border Morris Dances

Morris Dancing has been danced for hundreds of years, and passed down through the generations in the villages of rural England. The dances are usually performed at festivals such as May Day, Whitsun and Christmas.

The Origins of Morris Dancing

There are several thoughts to the origins of Morris Dancing. The name may refer to the possibility of the form of dancing coming to England from the Moors of North Africa; or it may have been called 'Moor-ish' simply because the dancers sometimes painted their faces black, and people compared this to the dark-skinned Moors.

The Music

The dancing is very lively and accompanied by an accordion player, a melodeon or fiddle player (Cotswolds) or a noisy band with a drum (Border Morris or North West sides)

Accordians and a fiddle

Two accordians and on the right a concertina



Morris dancers wear different clothes depending on the part of the country in which they dance. They are often dressed in white with coloured baldrics (coloured belts) across their chests.

Morris dancerMorris Dancers

'BAKANALIA' are a Border Morris Dancing group from Leicester.

Border Morris Dancers generally wear 'tatter jackets' and black their faces - probably originating as a form of disguise.

Bethane Border Morris Dancers

The Dances

There are usually six or eight dancers arranged in two lines or in a circle facing each other. The dancers may carry white handkerchiefs that they shake, or short sticks that they bang against each other as they dance. Some dancers have bell-pads tied at their knees, which make a loud and cheerful rhythm as they dance.

Cotswold Morris


North West Morris

Click on the right arrow below to find out more about May Day
last pagenext page

See larger photographs and videos of Morris Dancers

Introduction to May Day | Maypole Dancing | Morris Dancing

May Day in the Past | May Day Today | Well Dressing


Back to folklore and facts about the month of May


back to the top

email© Copyright - please read
All the materials on these pages are free for homework and classroom use only. You may not redistribute, sell or place the content of this page on any other website or blog without written permission from the Mandy Barrow.

© Copyright Mandy Barrow 2013

Mandy is the creator of the Woodlands Resources section of the Woodlands Junior website. 
The two websites and are the new homes for the Woodlands Resources.

Mandy left Woodlands in 2003 to work in Kent schools as an ICT Consulatant. 
She now teaches computers at The Granville School and St. John's Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent.

Follow Project BritainTwitterFollow Mandy Barrow on TwitterGoogle Plus

Woodlands Junior Homework Help new website