Here is a review of the talk about the history of the Goathland Plough Stots Long Sword Tradition, given by Keith Thompson, Steve Pierson, Jim Eldon and Sally Smith on 10th January. It was attended by over 70 online guests from the UK, Netherlands, USA and Canada.
“Keith Thompson is the Honorary President of Goathland Plough Stots, one of Britain’s oldest sword teams and his talk was the story of their tradition. It linked a long history of the team dating back to 1812 to social movements in and around the village with a selection of live music, slides and videos.
“By 1885 the railway had opened the village which was becoming a tourist destination & second homes being built for a far wealthier set of people who came to live in the village, work was plentiful and this with the excesses of a Plough Tour and the growing unruliness associated with the event meant the participants decided to stop.
“The revival after the Great War came about under the influence of a schoolteacher – F.W. Dowson – who revived the team between about 1921 and 1923, Keith mentioned the astonishingly long distances and times travelled on tours which inevitably finished in Whitby where the money collected on the last Saturday went to pay for vouchers for health care, all before the NHS of course. Such actions endeared them to the village.
“Teams such as these ebb and flow over the years but since that revival by Dowson the Goathland Plough Stots have always managed to take the previous tradition from their forebears and pass it on to their successors whether changed or unchanged. Sometimes a TV company might locate in the village; another time it may be a change in a headteacher or a curriculum that effects the development of the team.
“In Goathland such changes have been taken in their stride and at the moment the team is on a clear upward trajectory. Thanks to people from both the village and the energy of others associated with the team, it now has its own Hut as a centrepiece of the village life; home for artefacts; the village library; and even a camping facilities. Long may their enterprises and dancing thrive!
For more information on the facilities available at the Goathland Hut see: Goathland Community Hub & Sports Pavilion.
A book is also available: “Goathland in Folk Lore: Fact and Fantasy, memories of a moorland village” – containing a section on the Plough Stots and the song “Scarborough Fair” which was collected by Frank Kidson in 1895 from Alan Wardell who lived in the village. Available in soft back £20, or hard back £28, both plus £5 p&p – please email Keith Thompson: keiththompson5la (at) btinternet.com. See cover on Waterstones
There are two more books in the pipeline – one about the Goathland Plough Stots team and another on The Sword Dances of the North Riding.