Introduction to Border Morris

History: There are about 10 traditional Border Morris dances, collected around 1850-1900 from the region along the border of England and Wales (hence the name). "Border Morris" is a recent term - the dancers would have called it "Morris" or "Bedlam Morris". The teams would practice only a couple of times a year, so the traditional dances were very simple. Perhaps for this reason, many of the Border dances currently being performed are either made up, or reconstructed from extremely sketchy descriptions. The dances described here are all in these last two categories. Each dance description includes its source.

If you'd like more historical information, try Andy Anderson's A Brief Background to Border Morris Dancing (or better yet, buy his booklet!). Or take a look at John Kirkpatrick's articles about morris dancing - I enthusiastically agree with (almost) everything he has to say.

Style: I'll be describing Border as the Hounds do it. You'll want to come up with your own "team style". Doing so is an evolutionary process - when you come across ideas that you like, incorporate them. Feel free to alter the dances as you see fit, and to incorporate gratuitous spins, yells, stick twiddles, etc.

Stepping: The Hounds do a simple relaxed single-step: left-hop-right-hop etc. You can choose a more energetic stepping style (e.g. lifting your knees high, or stomping into the ground) or a more complex style (e.g. the "Shropshire Bedlam" stepping - | L H R H | L R L H | R H L H | R L R H |.) Border stepping does not have the ornate movements (e.g. galleys) of the Cotswold morris.

Music: As I've notated it, each part has 16 beats. The Hounds dance at about 60-80 beats per minute.


Kit: Hounds' Border kit (=costume) is a longish rag coat and "cabby cap", with bells worn on the legs.

If you'd like more information on Border Morris, check

This page was written by Mike Miller of the Bassett Street Hounds and was last edited on 18-Jun-2009.

[Back to Mike's Border Morris Notes]