Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

Lord Elgin's Reel

Scottish Country Dance Instruction

LORD ELGIN'S REEL (S8x32) 3C (4C set) RSCDS Book 26

1- 8 1M+2L set and turn 2H, 1L+2M set and turn 2H
9-16 1s crossing down RH cast down behind 3s, lead up to top, cross RH and cast to face 1st corners
17-24 1s turn 1st corners RH, passing RSh turn 2nd corner LH and pass LSh to end in lines across 1L between 2s and 1M between 3s
25-32 Lines Adv&Ret 1 step twice, 1s turn 2H 1ΒΌ times to places

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

Keith Rose's Crib Diagrams

Dance Instruction Videos

Lord Elgin's Reel - Scottish Country Dancing Instruction Video

Dance Information

Always being on the look-out for oddities of one form or another in SCD, my attention was drawn to Lord Elgin's Reel.

Now there has been an Earl of Elgin in the Scottish Peerage since 1633, and it is quite likely that in the subsequent almost 380 years, any number of sons have been born, the eldest son usually being known as Lord Elgin. The incumbent, the 11th Earl, may still be with us at the age of around 92. His son, Charles Edward Bruce, was identified recently as the current Lord Elgin at a 2012 Burns Supper in New York City. The son's current age is about 50. Distinguished as they may be, I do not think that either father or son has merited having a Scottish country dance named in his honour.

There were indeed two previous Earls, the 7th and 8th, who became famous historically, or in one case infamous. The 7th Earl of Elgin secured his place in history by acquiring, under questionable circumstances, a number of ancient Greek antiquities from the Parthenon in Athens. They were called the Elgin Marbles. Currently, they are to be found at the British Museum in London, having been purchased from the Earl by the British Government early in the 1800s, for considerably less money than he had paid as a bribe to the Ottoman Government of the day.

All that said, his son, the 8th Earl, was far more historically important to us as Canadian citizens, and did not have the same "blot on his escutcheon" borne by his pater (as Old Etonians used to refer to their dads). In 1847, James Bruce, the 8th Earl of Elgin, was named Governor General of the Province of Canada and through that role, worked to set the stage for the establishment of Canada as a Confederation in 1867.

By the way, as you might have surmised, the Earls of Elgin are the hereditary chiefs of Clan Bruce. They have a family seat just a few miles from Dunfermline.

One final thought... In my opening line, I referred to Lord Elgin's Reel as an oddity. Be careful how you start this dance - it's actually a strathspey!

(Footnote - Ruth Beattie, RSCDS chair wrote: "I enjoyed reading the article on the Earl of Elgin. The current Earl is a Vice President of the Society.")

The Barry Pipes Canon 050- May, 2012.

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.

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