Border Morris - a brief guide
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Border morris

The term "Border Morris" was originally coined by Dr EC Cawte, in his 1963 paper "The morris dance in Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire". At the time it was merely a useful handle to use in an academic paper which described the morris dances of those three counties, but it was to take on a life of its own.

Although Cecil Sharp, the great folk song and dance collector, had seen some of these dances in the early years of the twentieth century, they had largely been ignored by the folk revival. This was in no small part due to Sharp's view that the dances represented a 'degenerate' form, as opposed to the, more complex, Cotswold Morris. Sharp believed that the dances he had collected from Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and the surrounding counties, were close to the 'original' morris in form and that the styles he had seen elsewhere were simplified, and less 'authentic'. This view did not stand up to close academic scrutiny, but this was not to be applied until the 1970s.

Eventually, people decided to see if there was anything worth dancing from their own locality. This led to an upsurge in non-Cotswold teams. Several people in the Welsh border counties started teams with the specific aim of reviving their local traditions. However, once the research had been done, it became obvious that there was not a lot of material. Some teams stuck more or less to this limited repertoire, but others, most notably the Shropshire Bedlams, seized the opportunity for creativity and made dances everything up.

Nowadays, there are few teams concentrating on the traditional material - most follow the Shropshire Bedlams' philosophy. If you'd like to know more about the traditional material Dave Jones' book has some of the history and good reconstructions of the traditional dances. Andy Anderson's booklet is a more general introduction.


LINKS

For more about Border morris follow these links, but please remember that no-one has the definitive answers!


REFERENCES

E C Cawte, "The morris dance in Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire", Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, IX, 4 (1963), 197-212

D Jones, "The Roots of Welsh Border Morris", Putley: Annie Jones, (1995) ISBN 0 9526285 0 3

A T Anderson, Border Morris, The Morris Federation