Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

Airie Bennan

Scottish Country Dance Instruction

AIRIE BENNAN (J5x32) 5C set Hugh Foss Glendarroch SD Sheets

1- 8 1s+2s and 3s+4s set and ½ RH across, all set and LH across back to places
9-16 1s and 3s dance down 1 place, set, dance back to places and cast 1 place to face 1st corners
17-24 1s and 3s set and turn 1st corners RH, set and turn 2nd corners RH
25-32 1s and 3s turn LH, cast 1 place on opposite sides and turn RH 1½ times to 2nd place own side

(MINICRIB. Dance crib compiled by Charles Upton, Deeside Caledonian Society, and his successors)


Keith Rose's Crib Diagrams


Dance Instruction Videos

Airie Bennan - Scottish Country Dancing Instruction Video

Dance Information

Airie Bennan is a hill (40km - 25m) to the west of Dumfries, just to the north of the A712 about 7 miles (11km) south west of St. John's Town of Dalry and is shown on the 1st edition of the OS 6-inch map 1851.

The deviser, Hugh Foss retired from GCHQ in 1953 to live at Glendarroch in St. John's Town of Dalry, Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland.


Spotting the name of this dance, Airie Bennan, in the December Family Night program I was sufficiently intrigued to decide on a search. It turned out to be a bit of a challenge.

Apparently located in the old Stewartry of Kirkcudbrightshire, I first thought that Airie Bennan was a hill. But I find that it is two hills, Airie and Bennan. A stewartry is an archaic name for a Shire or Sheriffdom. Anyway, that area is now part of the region of Dumfries and Galloway in the southwest of Scotland. Come what may, one or both of the hills are significant enough to attract the attention of an august body named the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland... and that maybe is enough to justify someone devising a Scottish country dance accordingly.

"Someone?" In this case, the "someone" happened to be a gentleman by name of Hugh Foss, and he was indeed quite a "someone". A British cryptographer of great note, Hugh Foss achieved much success in World War II working for the British Government at its Bletchley Park Code and Cipher School. Very tall, red-bearded, and usually walking around in sandals, he was seconded to Washington, D.C., to work with Americans on breaking Japanese ciphers. The Americans called him "Lend-Lease Jesus"!

To date I have not been able to find any clarification of his Scottish credentials, but Hugh Foss did become known as a devisor of Scottish country dances. Among notable dances he devised are the currently popular 5-couple reel Polharrow Burn, John McAlpin, and The Wee Cooper O' Fife. Well, I thought all this was very intriguing, because it sometimes seems that one has to break the cipher to figure out the formations of the more complicated SCD dances.

Airie Bennan is a 5-couple jig that Hugh Foss devised in 1966. He died in 1971 at the age of 69.

The Barry Pipes Canon 038- December, 2010.

Dance information from Set&Link, RSCDS Toronto Newsletter - What's In A Name?
The Barry Pipes Canon 2005 - 2018, reproduced here with kind permission. Copyright Barry Pipes. All rights reserved.

Airie Bennan
Old Railway Track Near Upper Airie, Airie Bennan In The Distance


Dance information licensed under this Creative Commons Licence 3.0.
Text from this original Hugh Foss article on Wikipedia.
Image copyright Bob Peace under this Creative Commons Licence 2.0.

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