Welcome to the Grenoside Sword Dancers' website

The Grenoside Sword Dance is one of the very few ritual dances of England that can be called “traditional.” What do we mean by “traditional?” It might mean that the tradition will be pre-industrial, its origins will be unknown, it will be unique to a locality and it will have been passed down from person to person in an unbroken line. The Grenoside Sword Dance can safely be called traditional by these definitions.

The Grenoside Sword Dance can be traced back to the 1750s but prior to that no one knows. The first written mention of the dance was in a Pall Mall Gazette article of 1895. At the same time Lady Tweedsmuir (an important writer in her own name and also the wife of John Buchan of The Thirtynine Steps fame) wrote in her memoirs The Lilac and the Rose of seeing the sword dancers perform at Wortley Hall. She compared the gentility of her surroundings with the historical, rough and elemental nature of the dancers and their dance.

This photograph was contemporary with the 1895 writings and was probably taken on one of the many walking tours that the team made. Some of these tours were by request to perform at local grand houses for beer and sandwiches but other tours were for the enjoyment of the local people.

The Grenoside Sword Team two centuries on. (Taken during the 2001 Village ‘Traipse’)


Site compiled by Gerry Bates
Updated 30 May 2008
© Grenoside Sword Dancers
Visitors since 6/2/03