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

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.

Post-war publications

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.

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.

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.


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.