Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

British Man O' War

Scottish Country Dance Instruction

BRITISH MAN O' WAR (R32) Round The Room
Round the room dance, 2 facing 2

1- 8 All circle 4H round and back
9-16 Couple facing anticlockwise dance between other couple and cast back to places and turn RH
17-24 Couple facing clockwise repeat 9-16
25-32 Progress with alternating arches:-
' All dance in direction they are facing, clockwise couple make arch, dance under arch, make arch, dance under arch to meet a new couple

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


Dance Instruction Videos

British Man O' War - Scottish Country Dancing Instruction Video

Dance Information

"Man O' War" was a British Royal Navy expression for a powerful warship or frigate from the 16th to the 19th century. The term often refers to a ship armed with cannon and propelled primarily by sails, as opposed to a galley which is propelled primarily by oars. The man-of-war was developed in England in the early 16th century from earlier round ships with the addition of a second mast to form the carrack.

The British Man O' War - Song is an old folksong (Roud index 372) which is thought to date from the early 1840s, when Britain was engaged in the "Opium Wars" with China.

The first three verses as sung by Walter Pardon (an English 20th century folk singer who preserved many folk songs) are below (Other versions exist). The ballad gave rise to other forms of the song such as the 'Yankee Man Of War' and the 'Fenian Man Of War'. (The dance, we suggest, probably inspired the dance Scottish Man Of War).

As I walked out one morning, so careless I did stray,
I overheard a sailor bold to his young lady say:
"Oh, Susan, lovely Susan, I soon must leave the shore
To cross the briney ocean on a British man-o'-war."

Pretty Susan fell a-weeping and this to him did say:
"How can you be so venturesome to throw yourself away?
For 'tis when I am twenty-one I shall receive my store,
Jolly sailor, do not venture on a British man-o'-war."

"Oh, Susan, lovely Susan, the truth to you I'll tell:
The British flag insulted is; Old England knows it well.
I may be crowned with laurels but, like a jolly tar,
I'll face the wars of China on a British man-o'-war."

British Man O' War Song - Information Video

British Man O' War Painting Image
British Man O' War
"A British Man O' War Firing A Salute In Calm Seas With Other Vessels" Peter Monamy (1681-1749), Oil On Canvas, c. Before 1749


Dance Information licensed under this Creative Commons Licence.
Text partially taken from this original Man Of War article on Wikipedia.
Image Copyright Peter Monamy [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

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