Online Rapper Archive
This section of the site is intended to complement the bibliography page and the archives of The NUT by providing digital copies of archive material on the rapper sword dance, much of which is very difficult to obtain outside Newcastle. Long files are mainly provided in PDF format, for which you need to have Adobe Reader installed (if you haven't got it already, you can download it from the Adobe site).
Early descriptions of the tradition
- John Wallis (1769)
- John Brand (1777)
- William Hutchinson (1778)
- Thomas Bell (ca. 1800)
- Robert Topliff (ca. 1815)
- Cuthbert Sharp (1834)
- William Henderson (1866)
- W Carew Hazlitt (1870)
- John Stokoe (1887)
- James Edward Vaux (1902)
- M C Balfour (1904)
The Sword Dances of Northern England
Originally published in three volumes from 1911-1913, The Sword Dances of Northern England is the culmination of Cecil Sharp's efforts to collect and notate a selection of the village rapper dance traditions around Tyneside. Now out of copyright, it remains the premier work on the rapper dance yet to have been published, although there are some errors and some of his conclusions about the origins and history of the dance cannot be substantiated by the available evidence.
- Introductory comments on the rapper dance
- The Swalwell Dance
- The Earsdon Dance
- The Beadnell Dance
- The Winlaton Dance
- The North Walbottle Dance
Further information on the village traditions was collected after the Second World War, especially by Bill Cassie and members of the King's College team in Newcastle upon Tyne, although much has also been collected by other folklorists. Most of this material is still subject to copyright; articles are provided here by kind permission of the copyright holders and should not be distributed without permission.
- Rapper Knots from High Spen - Bill Cassie, 1965
- Rapper Knots from Amble and Bedlington - Bill Cassie, 1966
- Rollicking Rapper - Bill Cassie, 1952
I hope to provide more material in this section, provided that copyright permission can be obtained.
Articles published in The NUT
The NUT is the journal of the rapper sword dance and its online edition, The NUT on the Net, has an archive section containing previously published articles, many of which are of historical interest. Selected articles are directly linked from here.
- A North East Tour - George Wallace's tour of the rapper villages
- Rapper at the 1923 North of England Musical Tournament
- Hexham Courant, 9th October 1880
- All Dressed Up... - the garb of the Durham miner
- The formation of the Newcastle Kingsmen
- Gimme five - review of collecting and rapper
- Seghill Jolly Lads win rapper competition in 1881
- The Cats whip Murton out of the archives
- Rediscovery of the Cowen Trophy
- Joseph Cowen - friend of the miners
- Cecil Sharp - a view from Grenoside
- The Sword Makers of Shotley Bridge
- Historical rapper photographs
Articles published in Shave the Donkey
Shave the Donkey was an online ezine for Morris and Sword dancing, maintained by Simon Pipe. Although there have not been any new articles since 2002, the following articles from its archive are of interest to rapper dancers.
- DERT 2000 competition
- DERT leaves its mark on the Dome
- DERTy video
- Bring on the fools!
- Half Moon Ale
- Gay Blades Strut the Schtick
These articles are more peripheral, but still relevant, and relate to local musical tradition and to the coal and steel industries on Tyneside, with whose development the evolution of rapper sword dance is intimately bound.