Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

The Happy House Martins

Scottish Country Dance Instruction

The Happy House Martins (J8x32) 3C (4C set) Lewis N Derrick 1986

1-4 The 1st and 2nd couples dance four hands round to the left ending in original places 1st couple facing down and 2nd couple facing up
5-8 The 1st and 2nd women, likewise the 1st and 2nd men, set to one another then giving both hands change places on sidelines with setting steps
9-10 Joining hands on sidelines, the 2nd, 1st and 3rd couples all advance setting to partners
11-12 Giving both hands, the 2nd and 3rd couples, with setting steps, change places across the dance and open out to face up and down respectively with nearer hands joined, while the 1st couple pass one another left shoulder (skip change, no hands) and cast to the right (woman up, man down) to end in the centre of the dance 1st woman facing down towards 2nd couple and 1st man facing up towards 3rd couple
13-16 The 1st woman with 2nd couple, likewise 1st man with 3rd couple, dance three hands round to the left, opening out from bar 15 to form two lines across, 1st woman between the 2nd couple facing down and 1st man between the 3rd couple facing up
17-18 With hands joined across all advance setting towards the person facing
19-20 Giving both hands, the 2nd and 3rd women, likewise 2nd and 3rd men, with setting steps, change places up and down the dance and open out to face out on sidelines with nearer hands joined, while the 1st couple pass one another left shoulder (skip change, no hands) and cast to the right (woman up, man down) to end outside the set in 2nd place, 1st woman facing in towards the two women and 1st man facing in towards the two men (all on opposite sides)
21-24 All three women, likewise all three men, dance three hands round to the left, opening out from bar 23 to form two lines up and down in the order 312, all facing in on opposite sides
25-28 All dance six hands round to the left halfway to end 213, all on own sides
29-32 All drop hands and in a continuous movement dance a loop around partners passing right shoulders throughout (no hands) and return to own places

Repeat having passed a couple

(Dance crib compiled by the deviser, Lewis N Derrick 2020)


Dance Information

This dance, The Happy House Martins, was devised for Valerie and Collin Craig, whose house was festooned with house-martin nests in summer.

Suggested tune: The Twopenny Jig.

Devised August 1986; first published 1987; republished electronically 2020.

Copyright 1986, 1987, 2020 Lewis N. Derrick.


The common house martin (Delichon urbicum), is a migratory passerine bird of the swallow family which breeds in Europe, north Africa and across the Palearctic; and winters in sub-Saharan Africa and tropical Asia.

It feeds on insects which are caught in flight, and it migrates to climates where flying insects are plentiful. It has a blue head and upperparts, white rump and pure white underparts, and is found in both open country and near human habitation.

Both the scientific and colloquial name of the bird are related to its use of human-made structures. It builds a closed cup nest from mud pellets under eaves or similar locations on buildings usually in colonies.

House Martins - Information Video

House Martins Image
The Happy House Martins, Kent, England


Dance information from The McGhie Scottish Country Dance Books, Volume 2, McGhie the Moudie Catcher and Other Scottish Country Dances, reproduced here with the kind permission of the deviser, Lewis N Derrick.
Dance information licensed under this Creative Commons Licence.
Text from this original Common House Martin article on Wikipedia.
Image copyright Michael Palmer / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0), via Wikimedia Commons.

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