Longsword activities

Sowerby Bridge Rushbearing Festival 1st & 2nd September 2018

What a marvellous event the Sowerby Bridge Rushbearing Festival is!

Once again the weather was sunny and fine. A tremendous number of people turned out in Sowerby Bridge, Ripponden, and all the villages along the 2-day route to see the spectacular Rushcart drawn by men (though I did see a few women pulling), with the characteristic sound of clogs on the setts.  10 morris dance teams came along to dance and entertain – Ryburn Longsword was privileged to be invited again this year, our 24th outing with this great traditional event.

Photo: John Ramsden
Photo: John Ramsden
Photo: John Ramsden
Photo: John Ramsden
Photo: John Ramsden
Photo: Andy Day

Next year we’ll have to find a way of celebrating 25 years at Sowerby Bridge Rushbearing. Thanks to the Sowerby Bridge Morris and all the organisers for a fabulous two days.


Durham Folk Weekend 28 & 29 July 2018

The sun shone between the showers as we danced in the ancient city of Durham on Saturday during the Folk Weekend, but sadly the rain on Sunday wasn’t so obliging and came down in such a pelt that we decided not to try it again.  Thanks to the organisers for a lovely gathering.

Littleborough Rushcart 21 & 22 July 2018

Thanks to Oakenhoof and LEAF – and all the organisers of the Littleborough Rushcart festival – for inviting us. We had a full, action-packed, weekend.

Here we are processing behind Horwich Morris.

Dancing at The Old Bridge Inn, Ripponden, on Wednesday 13 June 2018

We welcomed Oakenhoof from Littleborough and Sowerby Bridge Morris to our Evening of Dance at The Old Bridge Inn last Wednesday 13 June. With 2 hours of dance displays from about 30 dancers it was spectacular.

In between the dance displays the audience were treated  to fabulous entertainment from the amazing Phoebe and Lawrence – dancing, singing, one-man band, and even the ukelele. Afterwards we piled into the pub and enjoyed a music and song session. Thanks to Tim and Lindsay at The Old Bridge for welcoming us for the evening.

Touchstones Rochdale Saturday 26 May 2018

Ryburn Longsword performed for the ‘Wakes Day’ at Touchstones Museum and Art Gallery in Rochdale on the 26th May to launch ‘Lore and the Living Archive’, an exhibition celebrating the work of Doc Rowe. It was lovely to hear about Doc Rowe’s work and meet the other dance teams who were also there – Grenoside Sword dancers, Oakenhoof, and the Lancashire Wallopers.

Southport Swords 50th Anniversary Gathering Sunday 20 May 2018

Congratulations to Southport Swords for their 50th anniversary! We had a lovely day in sunny Southport dancing around the town with other guest sides Maltby Sword and Goathland Plough Stots. Here’s us all dancing a mass North Skelton Longsword dance in the Grand Finale.

Spaw Sunday 6 May 2018

Once again we joined the residents of Cragg Vale to celebrate “Spaw Sunday” in Cragg Vale. We danced at the Hinchliffe Arms, walked to the Spa where there was a short service to bless the Well, and after dancing there and enjoying a picnic we walked to the Robin Hood and danced again. A very nice local event.

See Ryburn Longsword in 2018:
Wednesday 13 June – evening of dance with Oakenhoof at The Old Bridge Inn, Ripponden;
MORE INFO: Ryburn Longsword_Bridge_13jun18
21 – 22 July – Littleborough Rushcart;
28 July – Durham Folk Weekend;
1 – 2 September – Sowerby Bridge Rushcart.

Todmorden Folk Festival 5 May 2018

The weather was fantastic for the Todmorden Folk Festival on Saturday 5 May and we enjoyed dancing all day is this friendly festival. Thanks to the organisers for inviting us.

Dancing in the May 2018

Ryburn Longsword 1st May 2018
Ryburn Longsword 1st May 2018

At 5.33 on the morning of 1 May, Ryburn Longsword danced in the May overlooking Scammonden Dam. It was cold and there were no spectators, but we felt better for having done it.

Ryburn Longsword’s 2018 season started on Sunday 7 January, when we travelled to Durham for the Plough Sunday celebrations.

We danced in Durham Market Place, and then in the Cathedral grounds. We enjoyed it so much we’ve been invited back for the Durham Folk Weekend 27 – 29 July!

Ryburn Longsword at Hebden Bridge Day of Dance 22 October 2017

The second Hebden Bridge Day of Dance took place over the weekend of Friday October 20th to October 22nd. A full and varied programme of 26 dance events was hosted in four venues including the Town Hall where Ryburn Longsword gave a workshop in traditional Yorkshire Longsword dancing on the Sunday morning. Despite the flood warnings for Hebden Bridge on the Saturday and the steady drizzle that persisted on Sunday morning, a group of about 15 festival-goers turned up.

Longsword Workshop in Hebden Bridge 22 October 2017. Photo: Steve Jones.

Sue Coe was in charge and divided up the novices into three groups adding a couple of Ryburn Longsworders to each group. After a brief introduction to Yorkshire Longsword, a few words on Longsword safety and five minutes of gentle stretching exercises, Sue taught a few figures from the North Skelton dance. Despite displaying a range of dancing abilities, the attendees soon picked up the basics of the dance and the 90 minute workshop sped by.
Festival director Ralph had joined the group for the majority of the workshop and thanked Sue, Ryburn Longsworders and band (which included concertina player Gill Baldwin) for a stimulating and interesting session.

Ripponden Village Dance 29 September 2017

Read the REVIEW of the Ripponden Village Dance organised by Ryburn Longsword on 29 September.

Sowerby Bridge Rushcart 2 & 3 September 2017

Ryburn Longsword was delighted and privileged to be invited to dance at the Sowerby Bridge Rushcart Festival  on Saturday and Sunday 2nd and 3rd September.

Ryburn Longsword at the Sowerby Bridge Rushcart September 2017. Photo: Andy Day
The Sowerby Bridge Rushcart, September 2017. Photo: Andy Day

This was the 41st Festival since the Rushcart tradition was revived in 1977 and it was a wonderful spectacle over the two days. On Saturday we started dancing in Warley and then processed in the fine sunny weather down into Sowerby Bridge, stopping at intervals on the way to dance. On Sunday we started in Sowerby and processed along the picturesque Ryburn roads to Triangle Cricket Club before ending up at St. Bartholomew’s Church in Ripponden. We had a bit of rain but that didn’t distract from our enjoyment of the event.

Shrewsbury Folk Festival 26 – 28 August 2017

Photo: John Allport

Ryburn Longsword was one of the dance teams booked for the Shrewsbury Folk Festival this year. It was a lovely festival – Shrewsbury is very picturesque – and the weather was fantastic.

Photo: John Allport

Littleborough Rushbearing 23 July 2017

Photo: Andy Day

Littleborough Rushbearing, organised by Oakenhoof, took over the town on Saturday and Sunday. It was a spectacular event and the weather was kind so a good time was had by all. Ryburn Longsword danced on Sunday 23 July with Oakenhoof, Horwich, Thieving Magpies, 400 Roses, and the wonderful Bacup Coconut Dancers, complete with their glorious concertina band.

Photo: Michael L Jackson
Photo: Andy Day
Photo: Andy Day

More photos on the Galleries page.

Hexadaisy Day of Dance 2017

On Saturday 1 July we joined the Hexadaisy Morris side  for a most enjoyable day of dance in Greenhead Park in Huddersfield.  Thank you Hexadaisy for a lovely event.

Ryburn Longsword at Hexadaisy Day of Dance. (Photo: Ivy Oldroyd)
Ryburn Longsword at Hexadaisy Day of Dance. (Photo: Hexadaisy)

Spaw Sunday 2017
On Sunday 7 May the Longsword team danced in Cragg Vale at the Spaw Sunday celebration and afterwards at the Robin Hood pub. Celebrating Spring at the spa in Cragg Vale is a tradition which dates back to the 19th Century. Look at more photos in the Photo Gallery.

Photo: Kevin Cutts
Photo: Andy Day

Mayday 2017:
On Mayday, Ryburn Longsword were up and dancing before dawn to welcome the Mayday sunrise. The Dancers then went on to dance at local events in Ripponden and Sowerby Bridge.

Ripponden Village Dances 11 March 2017
The  afternoon Family Barn Dance for children and the evening  ‘Village Barn Dance’ on Saturday 11 March at the Victoria Hall in Ripponden was a great success. Around 120 people of all ages came along to the two dances, and had a great time dancing to the music of ‘Offcuts‘ called by Pauline Jones and Sue Coe.

Photo: Alan Day

Sowerby Bridge Rushcart 2016
Ryburn Longsword was one of the dance teams invited to the Sowerby Bridge Rushcart on 3 and 4 September, to celebrate 40 years since the custom was revived in 1976. We enjoyed the dancing and the processions, especially on Sunday when the weather was much kinder than on Saturday.

Sowerby Bridge Rushbearing festival, at Sowerby St Peters. Photo: Bruce Fitzgerald
Sowerby Bridge Rushbearing festival, at Sowerby St Peters.
Photo: Bruce Fitzgerald

We were privileged to dance inside Christ Church after the blessing of the rushcart. On Sunday the procession from Sowerby to Ripponden via Cottonstones and Triangle was a wonderful line of Rushcart pullers, dancers, and audience, stretching over many hundreds of yards. The final display outside St. Bartholomew’s in Ripponden was a wonderful finale to a great weekend.

Photo: Gill Loomes
Photo: Gill Loomes


Visit to Brittany as guests of Cercle Celtique Liviou Kerrien,
12 – 18 August 2016
We spent a week in Britanny as guests of the Breton dance group ‘Cercle Celtique Liviou Kerrien’   http://livioukerien.e-monsite.com/.  This group  perform display dances and social dances in the traditional Breton style.

Cercle Celtique Liviou Kerien

The women’s traditional costumes are beautifully embroidered velvet dresses and aprons with elaborate starched lace coifs, while the men wear traditional full velvet trousers and waistcoats.

Dance Exchange 2016 237
Ryburn Longsword in Port Manech, Brittany

We arrived in the village of Querrien late afternoon on 12 August where we met our hosts and enjoyed an evening of Breton dancing, Longsword dancing, social dancing and fine Breton food and drink.


During the week we danced in Batz-sur-Mer as part of the ‘Pardon’, and Port Manech in the Carnival, and we also danced in and around Querrien itself.  We also had time to visit several other beautiful places with our hosts and enjoy their warm hospitality, and we were sorry when the time came to say goodbye and return home.

Breton dancing – Liviou Kerien and Ryburn Longsword

See more photos of Ryburn Longsword in Brittany at  http://www.bfpix.co.uk/longswords

Next year (August 2017) Liviou Kerien will travel to stay and dance with us in and around Ripponden, so watch this space for further information as our plans progress.

Cercle Celtique Liviou Kerien

Chester Folk Festival, 28 – 30 May 2016
Ryburn Longsword were one of the featured dance teams at the Chester Folk Festival this year. In the glorious weather we danced at the ‘Lord Binning’, the ‘Farmers Arms’, and the ‘Royal Oak’, and posed and paraded for the audiences (see below).



A good time was had by all, thanks to Chester Folk Festival for booking us, and we hope to be back soon.

Hornbeam Molly Weekend of Dance, Knaresborough, 8 May 2016

Ryburn Longsword_Knaresborough_8may16_3
Photo: Andy Day


Photo: Andy Day
Photo: Andy Day

It was wonderfully hot and sunny on Sunday – what a difference from 1 week earlier! In the picturesque town of Knaresborough we joined 9 other dance teams to perform throughout the day, at the castle, the marketplace, and Henshaw’s.

Photo: Andy Day
Photo: Andy Day

May Day 2016
Ryburn Longsword danced the May in at 5.25 a.m. by Scammonden Bridge this year.  It was extremely cold!Ryburn Longsword May Day 2016

Later in the day we danced at the Spaw Sunday celebrations in Cragg Vale. After dancing at the ‘Hinchliffe Arms’ we walked to the ‘Spaw’ in the company of local admirers, performed a couple more dances, and then ended up in the ‘Robin Hood’. It wasn’t so cold, but it was a bit damp. But that doesn’t matter – Longsword dancing is always hugely entertaining and enjoyable!

Ryburn Longsword 21st Birthday 2015
Ryburn Longsword is 21 years old this year! On Saturday 24 October members past and present enjoyed a party in Ripponden with mass longsword displays, dancing to the Black Box Band, and lots of cakes.

Here’s to the next 21 years!

An Independent Folk Development Project in the Ryburn Valley