Ryburn Longsword

See Ryburn Longsword in 2020:
Our 2020 dancing-out season has been cancelled because of COVID-19. We hope to see you next year – or before if the dancing gods are kind!

May Day was one of the major festivals of the ancient Celts in Britain, representing the first day of summer, and May Day has been traditionally associated with fun, revelry and fertility. Each year the members of Ryburn Longsword get up early to ‘dance in’ the May at sunrise, but this year we’ve been unable to get together to do this. So here are a selection of photos of ‘socially distanced’ May morning Longsword fun and revelry (it was too cold for fertility).

And a reminder of the good times – this is what we did last year.

Some people who watched us at the Sowerby Bridge Rushbearing in September 2019 were obviously impressed because they came to talk to us about it. Their comments were like music to our ears: “intricate“, “complicated“, “impressive“, and “elegant“! Praise indeed!

Keep up to date with Ryburn Longsword on our Facebook page:



Longsword dance is a Yorkshire-based form of traditional dance performed by five, six or eight dancers dancing together in a circle, making a number of movements in which the dancers go over or under one of the swords. The dance normally ends with the production and display of a ‘lock’ where swords are intertwined in one of a variety of shapes.

Ryburn Longsword has been dancing since 1994. Some of our dances are traditional and come from villages across Yorkshire, others have been created by members of the group.


Members range in age from twelve to seventy, most of them living in the Ryburn Valley near Halifax in West Yorkshire. During each year we can be seen dancing on May morning, at local events such as Ripponden Village events, Todmorden Folk Festival, Littleborough Rushbearing and Sowerby Bridge Rushbearing, and at festivals and events further afield.

Sue Coe dancing with Ryburn Longsword at her EFDSS Gold Badge award on 16 November

If you would like to try Longsword dancing, please contact Sue Coe on 01422 822569.
Or email ryburnlongsword@gmail.com

We welcome dancers of all ages and abilities to our Wednesday evening practices which take place from 7.30pm to 9.00pm at 103 Oldham Road, Ripponden. We are very lucky to be able to dance to traditional live music for our practices, which are very friendly and informal.

The Ryburn Longsword Band. Photo: Bruce Fitzgerald

Our ultimate aim is to dance  with precision and style to public audiences, so dancers and musicians are encouraged to attend practice regularly.


Photo: Andy Day
Photo: Andy Day

Adult dancers wear a velvet surcoat or vest with applique panels showing scenes from the Ryburn Valley, which were originally designed and made by Chris Coe. Recently, new panels were created by Emma Smith, one of our dancers. The younger members wear velvet tabards whose backs show creatures found in the Ryburn valley. They were also designed by Chris in consultation with young people themselves. The beautiful colours of the velvet and satins combine to dramatic effect during the twists and turns of the dances, especially in sunlight.

More information about Ryburn Longsword activities can be found HERE.
And you can keep up to date on our Facebook page:

An Independent Folk Development Project in the Ryburn Valley