top of page

The sun is rising slowly in the sky as birds tweet loudly, 


Suddenly from a distance sounds of children can be heard singing, They sing in unison these words "We carry death out of the village," "We carry death out of the village!," A young girl carries a baby doll that is wrapped in a white cloth to signify that the baby is sick, More children walk behind the young girl and are singing as they generate a scuffling sound from there feet.

The children walk in a straight line as they continue to sing the pagan chant, We carry death out of the village!


The girl at the front of the line holds the baby doll up high with both hands as the rest of the children hold each other with both hands at the shoulders, 


The camera focuses on the Public Library for the small town of Summerisle, Built in 1911 this is the next place that Sergeant Howie is going to visit to continue his investigations on the disappearance of Rowan Morrison. The children can be heard loudly singing, We carry death out of the village!.


A low level flicking of paper is heard as the sergeant searches through a large hardback book, A silent old lady is sat at the same table and is also engrossed in a large hardback book of somekind, 


Howie flicks another page over as the children's voices from outside can still be heard, "We carry death out of the village" 


The sergeant has stopped on a page that he thinks has some important information regarding May day festivals,


Howies voice can be heard as he thinks to himself in silence "May Day Festivals"


The sergeant begins to read the text from the page as he continues to speak in his mind, "Primitive man lived and died by his harvest" The purpose of his spring ceremonies was to ensure a plentiful autumn. "Relics of these fertility dramas are to be found all over Europe. (A trumpet can be heard playing) Howie raises his left hand slightly before lowering it again, The sergeant continues to read, "In Great Britain, for example, one can still see... 


Harmless versions of them danced in obscure villages on May Day. The camera pans from the right side page to the left side page.


"Their cast includes many alarming characters: 


"A man-animal, or hobbyhorse, who canters at the head of the procession, charging at the girls.


"A Man woman, the sinister teaser, played by the community leader or priest.


"And a man-fool, Punch


"Most complex of all the symbolic figures, "The privileged simpleton and King for a day.


"Six swordsmen follow these figures"


and at the climax of the ceremony lock their swords together


In a clear symbol of the sun. In pagan times however, these dances were not simply picturesque jigs, 


"They were frenzied rites ending in a sacrifice."


"By which the dancers hoped desperately to win over the goddess of the fields."


"In good times, they offered produce to the gods and slaughtered animals. But in bad years, when the harvest had been poor...(Howie turns a page with his right hand) The sacrifice was a human being. (High pitched trumpet notes are heard)


The elderly lady suddenly raises her head and looks at the sergeant, 


The sergeant also looks up as he ponders on his thoughts and also of Rowan Morrison, 


The photographic image of Rowan suddenly appears in the sergeants mind as a fleeting flash, He is trying to find a connection between the May Day festival on Summerisle and also the anonymous letter he had received, Piece by piece the sergeant is building up a picture and he believes now that he is making some progress.


The sergeant speaks again inside his mind with a serious surprise, "Rowan's not dead!"


Another image of Rowan has now appeared inside the mind of the sergeant, This photographic image is the one the sergeant produced from inside the dark room at T.H.Lennox's chemist shop. Sergeant Howie continues to read silently to himself, "Sometimes the victim would be drowned in the sea" or burnt to death in a huge sacrificial bonfire. The image slowly zooms in onto Rowan Morrison who stands in front of the failed year of 1971.


The sergeant looks back down with intrigue as he continues to read, 


"Sometimes the six swordsmen ritually beheaded the virgin"


Sergeant Howie looks up from the page as he tries to envisage and reason with the information he has just read, Howie may have forgot for a second that he is in a library as he begins to speak out aloud with serious concern and disbelief, "Dear God in Heaven, even these people can't be that mad. Howie looks from side to side before looking at the elderly woman who is still silent and looking at him from across the table.


The elderly woman is still looking at the sergeant but is very quiet.


The elderly woman looks back down again


A moment passes before she returns her eyes back to the sergeant once again.


Sergeant Howie watches the silent lady as she stares at him in complete and utter quietude..


The sergeant then returns to the page he was reading and begins to read out aloud once more. "The chief priest then skinned the child, Howie grimaces slightly at the thought of the child being skinned) and wearing the still warmed skin like a mantle, led the rejoicing crowds through the streets


Howie looks up and looks back at the silent woman with an expression of delusional madness, Everywhere he goes people are acting strangely and this is the reason he is reading out aloud as no one is concerned or taking the officer seriously, 


Howie looks back down again at the page and continues to read out aloud as he blinks rapidly, "The priest thus represented the goddess reborn and guaranteed another successful harvest next year. Howie breathes in deeply from the digestion of the words and huffs out.


The elderly woman continues to stare at the officer in silence and stillness to express the feeling that she doesn't exist and Howie has been talking to himself.


The sergeant has read and seen enough as he slams the book shut with his right hand, A loud thud of thick paper rings out from the table as the book closes shut at speed, the sergeant instantly stands and leaves the library as he has a schedule to keep and is leaving Summerisle today to report his findings back to his chief constable at the West Highland Police Constabulary on the mainland.


Loud sounds of squawking seagulls can be heard along and around the muddy shores of Summerisle, Sergeants Howie's Seaplane can be seen moored several yards out on the waters edge, The shoreline grasses sway slightly in the cool breeze but no people can be seen or heard.


Sergeant Howie is in a rush as he raises his left hand to check his watch, The harbour master has suddenly appeared from the police officers right hand side and is keen to speak with the sergeant. A sound of thick straw bending and moving is heard as the harbour master passes through a woven gate.


A loud sound of rushing water and seagulls squawking can be heard, The harbour master begins to run in an attempt to catch up with the officer, The harbour masters hands flail from side to side momentarily before he raises his left hand and shouts out loudly, "Good morning, Sergeant!. The sergeant turns to his right for a fleeting moment as he watches the harbour master advance towards him. 


The sergeant continues to move forward as he faces away from the harbour master, The sergeant say's with a serious tone of voice, "I need to get to my plane"


The harbour master chuckles loudly as he say's, Oh well, on May Day,


The harbour master walks past the sergeant as he raises his left hand towards the officer and say's, I'd better take you out myself. 


The sergeant turns and looks at the harbour master before following him to the shoreline. A cow is heard Mooing loudly along with frequent squawking from seagulls.


Howies feet are heard squishing across the muddy surface as he makes his way over to a boat that will take him over to his seaplane, 


The harbour master has bent down and is loosening a metal chain that keeps the boat moored and safe from floating away, A loud sound of grinding metal is heard as the harbour master say's That's it, He bobs up and down a couple of times as he pulls and releases some ropes from there anchorage.


The sergeant carefully steps down inside the boat while carrying his brown bag in his right hand.


A loud sound of thudding wood is heard as the harbour master begins to row the boat out towards the sergeants seaplane, The harbour master say's, Here, Right as he pulls with intense pressure on the rows, A sound of water splashing and flowing is also heard including seagulls.


As the harbour masters rows out the sergeant say's, I shall be back shortly with some more police officers.


The harbour master continues to row but does not respond to the officers words. Suddenly the camera pans right at a very fast speed blurring the lens as it does so, A loud singular off keyed twang of a stringed instrument is heard as the camera veers back to shore.


The stringed instrument continues to play a slow but strangely off melody key tone. From the shoreline two men are clearly seen watching the police officer make his way out to his seaplane, They stand motionless while wearing animal masks to obscure there faces, 


The camera begins to move out slowly as another two people wearing face masks suddenly appear from behind the wall, They are bent down but slowly stand and also watch the sergeant as he makes his way back to the mainland. As soon as the second pair of masks appear another loud and off keyed twang of a stringed instrument is heard, The four people in masks are motionless and silent as they stare ahead into the water.


More splashing of water is heard from the red and blue boat as the sergeant stands and carefully makes his way inside the sea craft, The harbour master turns his head around as he watches the police officer carry out his affairs, The sergeant throws his brown bag into the open hatch with his left hand before stepping in.


Another twang of a keyed instrument is heard as yet another two masks appear from the ground up, Now there are six people in animal masks watching the police officer make his escape to the mainland.


Suddenly three more people wearing animal masks appear from the far left who also show an interest in Sergeant Howie's movements. From there shape they could be described as a teenage girl and two mothers, The teenager is wearing a blue jumper and has long brown hair and is leaning on the wall.


The sergeant places his right hand onto the seaplanes throttle while turning a key with his left hand. 


To the sergeants dismay and disappointment the engine and the electronics have failed to ignite, The sergeant continues to turn the key as he takes his right hand away from the throttle but unfortunately there seems to be a technical problem with the seaplane.


Sergeant Howie places his right hand onto the seaplanes window ledge as he looks out and up at the engine and propellors, There is definitely a problem with the craft and it is failing to start.


Howie turns his head back around as he focuses on his headset, Howie grabs the headset with his right hand and will now check to see if there is a radio signal and power to the delicate electronics.


Howie takes his left hand away from the key ignition as he turns a dial on the headset to adjust the volume levels. Howie carefully places the left side speaker to his left ear to see if there is any power. At the same time the sergeant places his right hand onto a tuning dial to try and establish the problem he is now experiencing.


The harbour master shouts out to the sergeant as he begins to row back to shore, He say's, Have a good flight, then!, This causes the sergeant to look out of his window at the harbour master.


The harbour master is still very close to the seaplane as he rows backwards away from the craft, Howie places his right hand to the top of the window ledge as he begins to step out of the cockpit to investigate the problem further.


Another strange and off key twang of a stringed instrument is heard as Howie pulls and pushes himself out of the cockpit,


Howie looks down to the floor briefly before turning to his right, Howie will now inspect the rotors and engine to see if he can isolate the problem or with a bit of luck manually start the engine.


The sergeant carefully makes his way towards the engine and propellers as he looks down briefly again so that he does not loose his footing in the cramped space he has to move, Howie stands up as he looks directly at the propellers and engine.


Howie reaches up and places his right hand onto the propeller before placing his left hand also.


With a strong and forcefull action the sergeant pushes down onto the left side of the propellor in an attempt to manually start the engine, 


A clacking cranking metalic sound is heard as the propellor turns one full cycle, the propellor moves from side to side briefly as it stops dead without any sign of an engine switching on. 


Another strange off key twang of a stringed instrument is heard as the camera veers back to the unidentifiable strangers back at shore wearing animal masks. 


Now that the May Day participants have shown there face it is now time for them to not show there faces, In an instant the mask wearing strangers duck back down below the wall all at the same time in a bizarre pact of madness. Sergeant Howie is completely unaware of the strangers watching him from a distance as he continues to try and get the seaplane to work.


Howie has decided to give the propeller another turn just in case the engine starts this time, The sergeant really wants to leave Summerisle so that he can report his findings to the chief constable of the West Highland constabulary but things are just not going to plan for the sergeant. Howie places both hands onto the left side propeller shaft for another turn, 


Howie spins the propeller around with medium pressure.


Howie releases his hands as the propeller swivels around for another turn, 


Again the propellers crank from side to side momentarily but there is still no power, Howie has become a little irritated and angry with the seaplanes performance as he stands in front of the engine wondering what he should do next.


Howie sticks his tongue out slightly as he looks around towards the harbour master who is making progress and is nearly back to the shoreline, A sound of splashing water is heard each time the rows hit the water line, The harbour master rows at a controlled and medium pace as he looks back over at  the sergeant. Sergeant Howie shouts loudly back to the harbour master, "Hey, you come back here!


Sergeant Howies voice echoes as it travels over to the harbour master but the harbour master is completely oblivious to the sergeants calling and just continues to row.


Sergeant Howie is stuck as he cannot start the seaplane and will have no alternative but to go back to Summerisle until the plane can be fixed or an alternative mode of transport is made available.


Howie steps back inside his cockpit as the water splashes against the seaplanes hull.  Howie retrieves his mega horn with his left hand before passing it over to his right, Howie then retrieves his police hat with his free left hand as he turns back out to the water.


Howie holds his Mega horn from just inside the cockpit with his right hand, (Seagulls can be heard squawking) Howie stands upright as he shouts through the horn, "I said, come back here!


Howie places his police hat on to his head with his left hand as he tries to contact the harbour master.


The harbour master can now hear the sergeants urgent words as he instantly turns his boat around to return back to the officer, 


The harbour master looks away from the sergeant then back again as he continues to row at a medium pace of strokes.


The sergeant can do nothing until the harbour master has returned, He stands briefly towards the harbour master to ensure that he does return.


The sergeant bends slightly as he turns to face the cockpit so that he can replace his mega horn back inside. He drops it to the floor with his left hand as a low level plastic popping sound is heard.


The sergeant rests his right hand onto the cockpit window ledge while placing his left hand over his right while he waits for the slow return of the harbour master.


The red and blue painted boat rocks up and down from the friction of the water as the harbour master pulls in his right side oar slightly,


The harbour master turns to his left to pull in the left side oar so that they do not obstruct with the seaplane. A rumbling wooden sound is heard as the oars are pulled in. (Seagulls continue to squawk)


The sergeants left leg raises then lowers in quick fashion as he waits patiently for the harbour master, 


As the harbour master nears the seaplane he say's with a concerning tone of voice, What's the matter? Won't she go? - (The boat rocks slightly)


Howie replies, "NO" The sergeant hesitates for a few seconds then replies loudly as he raises and shakes his right hand towards the harbour master,  Has anyone been here? The harbour master replies loudly, Not to my knowledge sergeant


Water is heard lapping around the boat - The harbour master continues, If any of the children had been interfering with it, 


The harbour master continues, I'm sure I would've seen them. Sergeant Howie instantly replies to the harbour master with a streak of irritability and frustration, He say's sternly, I warn you, (Howie hesitates) - you're obstructing a police officer.


The harbour master does not agree with the police officers words and begins to shake his head as he say's, I am not obstructing you, sergeant.


The harbour master is full of beans and does not like the police officers tone of voice but is helping him the best he can anyway, The harbour master turns his head and points over with his right index finger as he shakes it a couple of times towards a local fisherman, He say's, You could maybe get...


The harbour master continues - old Sam there to row you to the mainland. Old Sam the Fisherman is bending up and down in a rhythmic motion as he discards dead and rotten fish that have accumalated from inside the hull of his light blue painted fishing boat.  


I'm a paragraph. Click here to add your own text and edit me. It's easy.


The harbour master begins to chuckle as he now finds the sergeants situation a little amusing, The harbour master continues, You'd be back in a week. The harbour master chuckles some more to the police officers distaste.


As the harbour master continues to chuckle the sergeant just looks at the man without saying anything, (Seagulls squawking loudly overhead) 


The sergeant looks at the harbour master with a sense of authority and mental toughness as he say's, Well, The sergeant hesitates before saying, I'll just have to find Rowan Morrison myself.


The term hobby horse is used, principally by folklorists,  to refer to the costumed characters that feature in some traditional seasonal customs, processions and similar observances around the world. They are particularly associated with May Day celebrations, Mummers plays and the Morris dance in England. Hobby horses may be constructed in several different ways. The types most frequently found in the United Kingdom have been categorised as follows.


(The 2011 St.John's Mummers Parade)

Tourney horses are meant to look like a person riding a small horse that is wearing a long cloth coat or caparison (as seen in medieval illustrations of jousting knights at a tournament. A circular or oval frame is suspended around their waist, or chest, with a skirt draped over it hanging down to the ground. The frame has a carved wooden head, often with snapping jaws (operated by pulling a string) attached to it at one end, and a tail at the other. The "rider" may wear a cape or other flowing costume to help cover the frame. In the most elaborate versions, fake legs, meant to be those of the rider, hang down the sides of the skirt, though this seems to be a fairly recent development.


The bizarre, ancient May Day festival of the Obby Oss Hobby Horses cavort through the streets - Location - Padstow on Cornwall’s north coast

Sieve horses are a simpler version of the tourney horse. Known only in Lincolnshire, they are made from a farm sieve frame, with head and tail attached, suspended from the performer's shoulders. The performer wears a horse blanket (the kind that includes a headpiece with holes for the eyes and ears) that covers them and the sieve.


(Image Above - Girls jump and run with Hobby Horses at Geronimo - Arley Hall)

Mast horses are meant to represent the horse (or other animal) itself. They have a head made of wood, or sometimes an actual horse's skull is used; it usually has hinged jaws that can be made to snap. The head is attached to a stick about 1 m (3 ft) long. The person acting the creature is covered by a cloth attached to the back of its head; he (or, rarely, she) bends over forwards or crouches, holding the head in front of their own and resting the other end of the stick on the ground. A tail may be attached to the back of the cloth. When the cloth is long enough, such as the sheet used by the Welsh Mari Lwyd, the performer can also stand up, lifting the head in front of their face or above their head.


(Image to the Left - A woman makes a jump during a hobbyhorse competition.


The most famous traditional British hobby horses are probably those of the May Day 'Obby 'Oss festival in Padstow, Cornwall. They are made from a circular framework, tightly covered with shiny black material, carried on the shoulders of a dancer whose face is hidden by a grotesque mask attached to a tall, pointed hat. A skirt (made from the same material) hangs down from the edge of the frame to around knee-height. There is a small, wooden, horse's head with snapping jaws, attached to a long, straight neck, with a long mane, which sticks out from the front of the frame. On the opposite side there is a small tail of horsehair.There are two rival horses and their fiercely loyal bands of supporters at Padstow: the Old 'Oss is decorated with white and red, and its supporters wear red scarves to show their allegiance; the Blue Ribbon 'Oss (or "Peace 'Oss") is decorated with white and blue and its supporters follow suit. A "Teaser" waving a padded club dances in front of each 'Oss, accompanied, as they dance through the narrow streets, by a lively band of melodeons, accordians and drums playing Padstow's traditional May Song. The 'Osses sometimes capture young women beneath the skirt of the hobby horse; often they emerge smeared with black.
Children sometimes make "Colt" 'Osses and hold their own May Day parades.

minehead summerset.JPG

Homer Sykes - Minehead Hobby Horse, Minehead Somerset 1972.

At Minehead in Somerset there are three rival hobby horses, the Original Sailor's Horse, the Traditional Sailor's Horse and the Town Horse. They appear on May Eve  (called "Show Night"), on May Day morning (when they salute the sunrise at a crossroads on the ouskirts of town), 2 May and 3 May (when a ceremony called "The Bootie" takes place in the evening at part of town called Cher). Each horse is made of a boat-shaped wooden frame, pointed and built up at each end, which is carried on the dancer's shoulders. As at Padstow, his face is hidden by a mask attached to a tall, pointed hat. The top surface of the horse is covered with ribbons and strips of fabric. A long fabric skirt, painted with rows of multicoloured roundels, hangs down to the ground all round. A long tail is attached to the back of the frame. Each horse is accompanied by a small group of musicians and attendants. The Town Horse is accompanied by "Gullivers", dressed similarly to the horse but without the large frame; as at Padstow, smaller, children's horses have sometimes been constructed. The horses' visits are (or were) believed to bring good luck. In the past there was also a similar hobby horse based at the nearby village of Dunster, which would sometimes visit Minehead. The Minehead horse has also visited Dunster Castle on May Day.

At Combre Martin in Devon a custom called "The Hunting of the Earl of Rone" took place on Ascension Day until 1837, when it was banned. It was revived in 1974 and now takes place over the four days of Spring Bank Holiday. A fool and a hobby horse accompanied by grenadiers search the village for the Earl, who is finally captured, mounted onto a (real) donkey and paraded through the village. He is frequently shot at by the soldiers, falls from his mount, and is revived by the hobby horse and the fool, and returned to his mount. Finally, on reaching the beach, the Earl is executed and thrown into the sea.


Image Above - The Hunting of the Earl of Rone 2018 in Combe Martin. Picture: Tony Gussin

A New Year custom from the Isle of Man, involving a white-painted wooden horse's head with red-painted snapping jaws, with a white sheet attached. Draped in the sheet, a man would carry the head, racing unexpectedly into the room and chase any girls present out of the house, followed by the rest of the company. When the Laare Vane (white mare) caught a girl she would take his place under the sheet to carry the horse back into the house, sitting away from the others while a kind of sword dance was performed with sticks by six male dancers to the tune "Mylecharane's March" played on the fiddle. As the climax of the dance the fiddler would enter the circle of dancers and be imprisoned by their intertwined sticks; the dancers then, with wild cries, "cut off his head" and he fell to the ground. The "dead" fiddler was then blindfolded and led to the Laare Vane, and knelt with his head in her lap. Another person would question the fiddler about events in the coming year (particularly who would become Valentines and his replies were believed to be true predictions.


Image Above - Springtime at Ashford-in-the-Water Derbyshire.

In parts of Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and around Sheffield there existed, into the early 20th century (and until 1970 at Dore a Christmas and New Year custom of going from house to house performing a short play or dramatised song called The Old Horse, T'Owd 'Oss or Poor Old Horse. The horse was of the "mast" type, constructed in a similar way to the Wild Horse of the Soul-cakers and the hooden horses of Kent. The earliest record is from 1840, at Ashford-in-the-Water, Derbyshire. This type of performance still continues at Richmond, Yorkshire, at Christmas. Three men dressed in hunting pink lead a horse "made from the stuffed skin of a horse's head on a pole" and the man who plays it hidden under a horse-blanket. The men sing the Poor Old Horse song and the horse snapped its jaws at the end of each verse. The custom as now performed in Richmond Market Place around midday on Christmas Eve involves the horse's "death and resurrection" (he crouches down and then rises up when a hunting horn is blown.


A possibly unique custom involving three hobby horses is known only from a photograph taken at Winster Hall, Derbyshire in about 1870. (The picture appears to have been taken in winter, as the climbing plants on the wall are leafless.) Eight or nine performers are involved; all (bar one?) have facial disguise. The performers are grouped around a mast horse (possibly 'Snap Dragon'; see below) with a shiny black head made from a painted skull set on a short pole. Behind it are two men in threatening postures, one is waving a long stick like the handle of a brush or rake, the other probably a besom broom (blurred).
Two more men wearing military-looking jackets, buttoned to the neck, and white trousers stand astride small hobbyhorses of an apparently unique design: a cylindrical body, "about three inches diameter and two feet long", held between the rider's legs (supported at the front by a cord or narrow strap around the rider's neck), with a flat, curved wooden neck and a small, stylised head with snapping jaws (apart from their mouths, the horses look almost like simple rocking horse with the legs removed). The horsemen are masked in light-coloured cloth.
Another character wears a rather voluminous, tattered, long, dark dress; busily brushing the ground with a besom broom, "she" is reminiscent of the character Besom Bet who appears in some mummers plays. The last two characters are playing rough music on bladder fiddles.


Image Above - Winster Hall


Image Left - Llewellyn Jewitt, Historical Writer - The performance may have been arranged by Llewellynn Jewitt who lived at the hall between 1868 and 1880. In 1931, Stanley Evans ("Folk Dancing in Derbyshire", Derbyshire Countryside, vol 1, no 2, April 1931, p29) suggested the performers may have been performing a mumming play. Cawte dismissed this suggestion: "if so it is a most unusual one, there is no sign of the combatants, the pair of horses is of an unusual design, and the mast horse seems to be the centre of attention." In his field notes, made in 1908, folklorist Cecil Sharp referred to a hobby horse "without a curtain" being connected with the morris dance at Winster; he also mentions a "Snap Dragon" made from "a real horse's head" (skull?) dug up for the purpose, but does not say whether it was associated with the morris. It seems he did not see them himself and his account published in 1924, long after his visit to Winster, is confusing. In 1966, Winster morris dancers stated that there had never been a hobby horse associated with their morris, but that there had been a separate horse ceremony involving a skull that was reburied each year.In notes published after his death, Llewellynn Jewitt noted how, in 1867, a dozen or so groups of traditional performers (several groups of guisers, the Wensley mummers, 'The Hobby Horse' and the 'Snap Dragon') called at Winster Hall in just four days between Christmas and New Year. He noted that, on 27 December, "In the evening the Winster 'Snap Dragon' and 'Hobby Horse' conjoined came to us — ten men, one as Snap Dragon, two with Hobby Horses, two devils, etc., etc. We had them in the kitchen and gave them money." The photograph may well show one such "conjoined" team.


Image Above - Plough Monday in Swaffham Prior 1929 as collected by Enid Porter


Image Above - Molly men at the Plough Monday celebration on Monday 11th January 2010 at the Hythe in Maldon Essex (UK). In Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire and some other parts of the East Midlands of England, mummers' plays were performed, on or around Plough Monday  in early January, by teams known variously as Plough Stots, Plough Jags, Plough Jacks, Plough Bullocks or Plough Witches. In North Lincolnshire, large teams of elaborately costumed mummers, often having some of the characters duplicated, paraded through the village streets, sometimes splitting up into smaller groups to enter houses and perform extracts from their traditional play. Photographs of teams from Scunthorpe, Burringham, Scotter, Burton-upon-Staher and elsewhere showed double gangs with two hobby horses. They were of the sieve type, made by hanging the wooden frame of a large sieve, with a small wooden horse's head and horsehair tail attached, around the performer's waist, However, in an unusual variation, the "rider" was then disguised by wearing a horse-cloth which covered his head and body to the knees, so that he appeared to be a horse riding a horse. 

Plough Monday is a tradition dating back to the 15th century. A plough is paraded through the town accompanied by Molly dancers with black faces and hobble-de-hoy peasant costumes. Plough Monday is the traditional start of the English agricultural year.


Plough Monday is always the first Monday after twelfth day. The day before Plough Monday called Plough Sunday.


The day traditionally saw the resumption of work after the Christmas period. A plough was hauled from house to house in a procession, collecting money. They were often accompanied by musicians, an old woman or a boy dressed as an old woman called Bessy and a man in the role of the 'Plough Pudding'.


In Maldon the procession starts at the Hythe then works its way through the town to finish at the Blue Boar after a mass dance in Silver Street. At the pub there's a ceremonial cutting and consumption of the unique Plough Pie washed down with the specially brewed Ploughboy Stout.


The Salisbury Giant and his kin

The Salisbury Giant, a 12 ft-tall (3.5m) figure sometimes said to represent Saint Christopher  is a processional figure unique in Britain. The current figure's wooden frame was rebuilt c.1850 although it is probable that he existed in the 15th century. It rarely appears nowadays, being kept in the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum, along with its companion Hob-Nob, a tourney-type hobby horse, a mischievous character which used to clear the way for the Giant in the processions that were held by the Tailor's Guild on Midsummer's Eve. Hob-Nob's rider's face and body were disguised with a substantial veil. The first clear mention of the hobby horse is in 1572 (along with a "mayde Marrians Coate" in the records of the Tailors' Guild (who, in 1873, finally sold both hobby-horse and Giant to the Museum). The processions, which also involved morris dancers until around 1911, continued sporadically on various occasions into the mid 20th century.


The Salisbury Giant and HobNob


Stained Glass images above from the Victoria and Albert Museum London. A hobby horse is depicted in a stained glass window, dating from between 1550–1621, from Betley Hall, Staffordshire, now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, directly below a Maypole and surrounded by what appears to be Morris Dancers (accession no. C.248-1976)
The Salisbury Giant and HobNob
A painting from c.1620, now in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, shows Morris dancers by the Thames at Richmond their party includes a hobby horse.

Hodening or Hoodening

A custom which took place at, or in the lead-up to, Christmas in eastern Kent, involving a group of ploughmen or other farmworkers leading a Hooden Horse (a horse's head made of wood, set on a short pole, with snapping jaws (sometimes set with nails for teeth) operated by a person hidden under a piece of sacking or a stable-blanket to represent the animal's body). The custom, described as "only just extinct" by folklorist Violet Alford in 1952, has since been revived in various places.