Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

The Lonesome Reel

Scottish Country Dance Instruction

The Lonesome Reel
Reuben Freemantle
Medley   (S32 + R32) bars   1 Dancer Repeat   1 Dancer Set   Square Set
The solitary dancer starts at the midpoint of first place in a square set; ghosts are similarly in 2nd, 3rd and 4th places. The set size should be such that, with the ghosts replaced by dancers, all could just take hands in a circle without moving inwards.


  1-8   1D 2G 3G 4G follow the path as in the half onesome reel:

  1-2   1D dance to 3G's place WHILE 3G dance to 1D's place WHILE 2G4G exchange places similarly, all passing by the left in the centre and all finishing facing out;

  3-4   all cast clockwise one place;

  5-8   repeat bars 1-4 from new places, finishing 3G4G1D2G facing in;

  9-10 all set advancing, passing opposite left shoulder, finishing in the opposite place, facing out;

11-12 all set, turning on the spot to face in;

13-16 repeat bars 9-12 from new places, finishing as at bar 8, facing in;

17-24 all repeat bars 1-8 from new places, finishing in original places, facing in;

25-32 all set twice, facing opposite, with highland schottische setting step.


33-40 As bars 1-8 of the strathspey;

41-42 all set advancing, finishing in the centre, facing the opposite dancer/ghost;

43-44 all set turning on the spot (right shoulder back), finishing facing out;

45-46 all set advancing outwards, finishing in places, as at bar 8 but facing out;

47-48 all set, turning on the spot to finish facing in;

49-56 as bars 17-24 of the strathspey;

57-58 all petronella turn one place anticlockwise, finishing facing in;

59-64 repeat bars 57-58 three times, finishing in original places.

(MAXICRIB. Scottish country dancing instructions compiled by Reuben Freemantle)

Dance Notes

When performed by a single dancer, it may be helpful to place markers (which must not interfere with dancing) in the ghosts' starting places.
The dance can also be performed with 2, 3 or 4 dancers, replacing the ghosts in the order 3 2 4.

  1-2   Do not take hands in the centre.
When dancing with 3 ghosts, follow a path which would not impede them; an obstacle which does interfere with dancing (such as a standard lamp with small base, no shade and the cord wound around the pole or a fairly small pot plant or a peg driven into grass) at the centre point of the set may provide a useful discipline.

11-11 Take very small steps on the right foot; it may be helpful to make the direction diagonally backward.

12-12 Rotate on the left foot step to finish facing in.

15-15 Take very small steps on the right foot; it may be helpful to make the direction diagonally backward.

16-16 Rotate on the left foot step to finish facing in.

43-43 Make a normal step on the right foot.

44-44 Rotate on the left foot step to finish facing out.

47-47 Make a normal step on the right foot.

48-48 Rotate on the left foot step to finish facing in.

57-64 Note that these are successive petronella turns, not repetitions of quarter petronella.

(Dance notes by the deviser, Reuben Freemantle)

Keith Rose's Crib Diagrams

Dance Instruction Videos

The Lonesome Reel - Scottish Country Dancing Instruction Video

Dance Information

The deviser is grateful to Teresa Lockhart for helpful suggestions over the wording and especially so to Rob Lockhart for creating (and performing in) a video at very short notice.

This dance is a prescriptive version of Onesome Reel which does not leave the choice of steps for bars 9-16, 25-32, 41-48 and 57-64 to the dancer. It is suitable for those whose experience of footwork does not extend beyond the seven basic steps which are sufficient for the vast majority of Scottish Country Dances.

Young dancer on her own in a big dance room
Lonesome Dancer

Dance information by the deviser, Reuben Freemantle, 2020.
Image copyright Geerd-Olaf Freyer from Aachen, Deutschland / CC BY-SA (, via Wikimedia Commons.

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