Trenchmore AKA The Irish Trenchmore

Source: 16th Century - Interpreted by John Sweeney
Formation: Longways; Proper; Seven Couples is best, but any number will work

A1 Up A Double & Back (once or twice); Single Cast; Lead Back to Place.
A2 #1s Face Down: #2s Arch: #1s Dip n Dive to Place - everyone joins in.
Partner Swing.
A3 #1s Strip the Willow to the Bottom - when #1s get to #3s the #2s Strip, etc. to Place - join at Bottom and Move Up.
Partner Swing.
A4 #1s start down the middle and Weave to the Bottom - when #1s get to #3s the #2s Weave, etc. to Place - from the Bottom Weave back up to Place.
Partner Swing.

The As above do not represent once through the music; they are just to separate the moves. The band keeps playing until the dancers stop. I usually dance it at around 118 bpm. Any tune(s) will do.

There is a record of Edward VI enjoying a good Trenchmore in 1551. Whether he danced it or watched it we will never know. It may be of Irish origin and it was referred to as "wild and boisterous"! Trenchmore may well have been a genre of dance rather than a specific dance. A version was publish by Playford in 1652. An earlier version is in the Lovelace Document.

There is lots more information in the article "Trenchmore - An Irish Dance in Tudor and Stuart England?".

A2: Everyone joins in the Dip 'n' Dive. As you reach the top: Turn and Dive. As you reach the bottom: Turn and Dive (unless there is an even number of couples, in which case: Turn and Arch.) When you get home have a Swing if you wish while the others finish the figure.

Re the Swing: The Lovelace Document has words like "every man shall turn his mayde as long as he please, on way, and then backe agayine, the other way" "Having soundly turned both ways, every man, with his woeman" "then all men & woemen turne round as before as fast as they can". That sounds like a Swing to me! Feel free to turn your partner any way you wish. See here for more on Swings vs Turns.

A3: The original instructions don't make it clear who gets to Strip the Willow, so I have used an Orcadian Strip the Willow where everyone gets to do it all. As each couple becomes a Top Couple they wait until the previous couple has passed the next couple, and then they start. If you are on the side you turn the people who come towards you then Move Up. When you reach the bottom you join the bottom of the set. As in the previous figure some people will get home while others haven't finished. Feel free to swing/turn your partner. A good hold for doing the turns during the Strip the Willow is shown at Diagram 11 - the Forearm Hold with Cupped Elbow.

A4: This is like a Grimstock Hey for the whole set. The #1s lead down between the #2s who move up the outside, the #1s separate and go outside the #3s who lead up, and so on to the bottom. As you reach the top you turn towards your partner and start down the middle to Weave the Line. When you reach the bottom you turn and come up the middle (unless there is an even number of couples, in which case you turn and go up the outside). Whenever you are going up or down the middle you take you partner's nearest hand, then push away to go outside the next couple. When you get home, you know what to do!

In all the figures Lady #1 can start the next figure when enough people are ready, even if some at the bottom haven't finished the previous figure. It is the same Lady #1 who starts all the figures from the top. Sets may get out of synchronisation with other sets; that is fine!

Here is a video of part of the dance:

Back to Dance Index

I'd love to hear from you if you try this dance.

Feedback is very welcome on any aspect of these dances or Web pages.

Please contact John Sweeney with your comments.