The Goathland Plough Stots is one of Yorkshires traditional long sword teams, if not the oldest still dancing their own dance as performed as far back as the early 19th century.
The Plough Stots were revived by Frank. W. Dowson in 1922 with the help of his good friend Cecil Sharp after a lapse of 40yrs. 2yrs after their search for manuscripts the Plough Stots danced their 1st outing in Jan 1923(see History).
The Plough Stots dance 5 dances each with an accompanying tune. These 5 dances require a team of 6 sword dancers, however there is a 6th dance which uses a further 2 dancers (No Mans Jig). Each of the dances results in the dancers forming a “lock”.
The gentleman, old Isaac, the fool and the musicians accompany the dancers. This also began in Pagan times when the young men were pulling the plough and a play came into being. In time a “Gentleman” and “Lady” appeared at the head of the company with collectors (“Toms”) and old couple “Isaac” and “Betty” (T’awd man” and “T’awd Woman”) brought up the rear.
The musicians consist of fiddle players and accordian players. We are honoured to have Eliza Carthy on the team as fiddle player.
The dancers wear a uniform of pink and blue tunics tied with a white sash and grey trousers with red stripes. The youth team members also adopt this uniform but instead of tunics they wear pink and blue tabards. The tunic colours of pink and blue were chosen to placate the political parties of the 19th century, (the Whigs & Tories), whilst the red stripe on the trousers is a remanent of the Crimean war.
The building that houses our exhibition of dance memorabillia was built by village subscription and is known as the reading room, a place where the educated could read to the poor. The Plough Stots have been custodians since the mid 1970’s.
When Goathland Plough Stots are dancing it is tradition that a song is sung before they start however it has to be said in most cases now it tends to be shouted rather than sang:
” We’re Gooadlan Pleeaf Stots com’d ageaan
All decked wi’ ribbons fair
Seea noo we’ll do the best we can
An’ the best can deea neea mair”
The longer version of this song as sung by Keith Thompson at The Royal Albert Hall is also sung on Very Special Occasions:
” Here’s a host of us all
From Goathland go we
We’re goin a rambling
The country for to see
The country for to see
Some passtime for to take
So freely you will give to us
As freely we will take
So now you see us all
Dressed in our fine array
Think of us what you will
Music strike up and play”