A GROUP of Teesdale youngsters have revived the ancient tradition of Longsword dancing.

Eight Teesdale School pupils, from Barnard Castle, took part in the national Sword Dance Union’s annual tournament of sword dancing earlier this month when it was held in a North Yorkshire village.

The Teesdale Longsword Dance team was one of only two youth teams that participated in the tournament and performed two dances, a traditional dance for six dancers and a dance for four dancers.

Mike Bettison, treasurer, researcher and musician with the Music at the Heart of Teesdale (M@HoT) project has found several references to Longsword dancing in Teesdale.

He said: “We now know that there was certainly a team of sword dancers in Gainford, Startforth and probably many other local villages in the mid nineteenth century.

“And teams of men and boys in ‘tatters’ performing Longsword dancing would have been fairly common in many local villages in those days, probably right up to the First World War.”

The M@HoT project is working to revive the Longsword tradition in Teesdale, with regular workshops for the team held at Teesdale School and the TCR Hub in Barnard Castle and.

For more information about the project, contact Neil Diment, M@HoT project co-ordinator, on 01833-638263.