Papa Stour Sword Dancers
“The Papa Stour Sword Dance is a masque which represents the age-old theme of the struggle between good and evil. The forces of good are the Seven Champions of Christendom, St James of Spain, St Dennis of France, St David of Wales, St Patrick of Ireland, St Anthony of Italy, St Andrew of Scotland and they are led by St George of England who introduces them in a long speech in verse. Music is supplied by the Minstrel. They then link up in a circle and the dance contains seven figures. The movement of the swords represents the battle, and evil is finally vanquished by the spectacular climax. St George then bids farewell to the onlookers and heads the Seven Champions off stage.”
The dance, although originating in Papa Stour, is now performed by a group of men from the Shetland Mainland. It is an incredible 49 years since the Sword Dance was last performed by a Papa Stour based team.
The Papa Stour Sword, one of only 6 traditional Sword Dances left in the British Isles, currently boasts both a junior and senior team, with around 25 active performers scattered throughout Shetland!