Whenever possible, we go on to explain that yes, there are a lot of English morris dances, but there are also the Welsh morris dances that we are trying to keep alive.  The existence of Welsh morris dances comes as a complete surprise to most locals.

There are only three dances that can really be described as Welsh morris; Y Gaseg Eira, and the processional and static versions of Cadi Ha.

Y Gaseg Eira (the snow horse, the Welsh name for a giant snowball) comes from Nantgarw in Glamorganshire, South Wales. This is a dance for eight men, and includes the unusual figure "pushing the snowball".  It is danced by Cardiff Morris, Isca Morris Men and Dawnswyr Nantgarw. Cardiff Morris have devised more dances in a similar style. There are also several dances for mixed couples from Nantgarw.

Cadi Ha (Cadi means Kate, Ha summer) comes from the Point of Ayr, in Flintshire and elsewhere in North Wales.  The processional dance is for eight men, with the additional characters Cadi and Bili.  Similar to the Winster dance, it consists of crossing and recrossing. The static dance has more figures, in which the characters play an active part.  This dance is alive and well in Holywell, where there is Cadi Ha Festival every May Day. Isca Morris Men usually use the Cadi Ha processional as a coming on dance.

This is the briefest of summaries.  As usual the Internet is source of further information, once you know the names of the dances.

It seems highly unlikely to me that there were not more morris dances in Wales. There are references to Merry Dancers and May Dancers, but no details.  And why should the Border style morris dances of Herefordshire and Gloucestershire have come to an abrupt halt at the border?  I suspect that other dances have simply been lost.

So next time you hear how "English" morris is, please remember that there are Welsh morris dances.

Keith Lascelles
Men of Sweyn’s Ey

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