Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

The Birks Of Invermay

Scottish Country Dance Instruction

THE BIRKS OF INVERMAY (S8x32) 3C (4C set) Thomas Skillern RSCDS Book 16

1- 8 1M+2L turn 2H, 1L+2M turn 2H (3 bars) and 1s+2s+3s dance in for...
9-16 1s+2s+3s Promenade
17-24 1s cross RH, cast to 2nd place, cross up between 2s and cast to 2nd place (2s move up on bars 23-24)
25-32 2s+1s+3s circle 6H round and back

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


Keith Rose's Crib Diagrams


Dance Instruction Videos

The Birks Of Invermay - Scottish Country Dancing Instruction Video

Dance Information

The title of this dance, The Birks Of Invermay, comes from The Birks Of Invermay - Song written by David Mallet and the Rev. Alex. Bryce sometime before 1733 appearing in William Thomson’s Orpheus Caledonius and sung to the Scottish tune, The Birks Of Endermay.

The smiling morn, the breathing spring,
Invites the tunefu' birds to sing;
And, while they warble from the spray,
Love melts the universal lay.
Let us, Amanda, timely wise,
Like them, improve the hour that flies;
And in soft raptures waste the day,
Among the birks of Invermay.

Mallet's verses appeared in the Orpheus Caledonius in 1733, where they are directed to be sung "to a Scotch tune, The Birks of Endermay." They are also given, with the three additional stanzas, in the 4th vol. of the Tea Table Miscellany.

It will always be associated with the Tragedy of Captain William Leslie and Dr. Benjamin Rush. As "The Birks of Invermay" it was also sung by the Scots poet Robert Fergusson as he lay dying from a head injury, in the Edinburgh madhouse, aged 24, in 1774. The original lyrics (the first two stanzas) were by David Mallet (or Malloch) the other stanzas are generally ascribed to the Rev. Alex. Bryce - though inevitably Robert Burns later got in on the act too!


Birk is Scots for a Birch tree.

Invermay is a diffuse settlement in Perth and Kinross, Scotland. It is situated approximately 2 km southeast of Forteviot on the Water of May (8 km southwest of Perth), a small river running from the Ochil Hills into the River Earnsome.

Before the mid 15th century, Invermay was known as Innermeath, and was the home of Sir John Stewart of Innermeath (great-grandson of John Stewart of Bonkyll), whose elder son was the first Lord of Lorne, and whose younger son was The Black Knight of Lorn, a powerful 15th century magnate, allied to the Black Douglases; both children were born at Invermay (still called Innermeath at the time of their birth).

Sir John's grandson, William Stewart, surrendered the Lordship of Lorne to the king, in return for being made the first Lord Innermeath; the title became extinct in 1625, by which time the name of the location had become Invermay.

Also see the dance Mrs Hepburn Belches Of Invermey by John D Bowie.


Who devised this Scottish country dance, and when, isn't entirely clear but it is credited to Thomas Skillern, appearing in 'Skillern's Compleat Collection Of Two Hundred And Four Reels And Country Dances For 1776' and in his 'Book Of 24 Dances' published in 1795.

The Birks Of Invermay Song - Information Video

Forest Of Birches, Scotland Image
A Forest Of Birches, Scotland


Dance information by Sir Christopher MacRae, KCMG.
Dance Information licensed under this Creative Commons Licence.
Text from this original The Birks Of Invermay article on Wikisource.
Text from this original Invermay article on Wikipedia.
Image Copyright M J Richardson under this Creative Commons Licence.

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