Based in North Yorkshire, Pateley Longsword – formerly Pateley Real Ale Tasting Society (Prats) was formed in 2004 by experienced dancers from other Morris traditions.
All their longsword dances are devised by themselves and bring a vitality and freshness to the tradition.
They intersperse the longsword with other dances such as a Basque dance or a Border Morris dance.
Yorkshire Long Sword dancing is a form of English ritual hilt-and-point sword dance from the 15th century, or even earlier; the dances could have been brought across by the Vikings invaders; they may also have started due to the belief that iron was thought to have magical properties, which would promote fertility and encourage the coming of a good spring and summer.
The usual pattern of performance starts with the rhythmic clashing of swords, followed by the formation of a ring in which each person holds the hilt of his sword and the point of his neighbour’s sword; there follows a number of weaving and twisting movements which demand a high degree of teamwork if the circle is to remain unbroken throughout the dance; at certain stages of the dance the swords are plaited together to form various shapes, called a lock, which is held aloft.