Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

Napier's Bones

Scottish Country Dance Instruction

NAPIER'S BONES (J4x32) 4C set Lewis N Derrick

1- 8 2s followed by 1s dance down below 4s, cast up, meet and dance up middle, casting to original places
9-16 3s followed by 4s dance up above 1s, cast, meet and dance down middle, casting up to original places
17-24 1s+2s also 3s+4s Set&Rotate to end 2143 with 1M and 4L facing out
25-26 1s+4s dance ½ LH across 2(4)(1)3 with 1M and 4L facing out
27-32 4s and 1s pass "corner" (dancer on Right) by RSh then 4M followed by 4L dances behind 2L (at top) and across to 2nd place own side while 1L followed by 1M dances behind 3M (at bottom) and across to 3rd place own side. 2413

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


Napier's Bones
Lewis N Derrick
Jig   4 x 32 bars   4 Couple Repeat   4 Couple Set   Longwise Set

  1-8   Taking nearer hands, 2s followed by 1s lead down below 4s, cast up on own sides, take nearer hands, lead up and cast into original places;

  9-16 taking nearer hands, 3s followed by 4s lead up above 1s, cast on own sides, take nearer hands, lead down and cast up into original places;

17-24 1s2s 3s4s set and rotate, finishing 2s1s4s3s;

25-26 1s4s right hands across halfway;

27-28 4L 4M 1L 1M cast clockwise around the adjacent corner;

29-32 4L cross to own side and cast to 2nd place WHILE 4M cast to 2nd place and cross to own side WHILE 1M cross to own side and cast up to 3rd place WHILE 1L cast up to 3rd place and cross to own side, finishing 2s4s1s3s.

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


Napier's Bones (J4x32) 4C set Lewis N Derrick 1987
1-4 Taking nearer hands the 2nd couple, followed by the 1st couple, dance down to the bottom of the set, divide below the 4th couple and cast up two places on own sides
5-8 Dancing in above the 3rd couple to take nearer hands again, the 2nd couple, followed by the 1st couple, dance up to the top of the set, divide and cast off to original places on own sidelines
9-12 Taking nearer hands the 3rd couple, followed by the 4th couple, dance up to the top of the set, divide above the 1st couple and cast off two places on own sides
13-16 Dancing in below the 2nd couple to take nearer hands again, the 3rd couple, followed by the 4th couple, dance down to the bottom of the set, divide and cast up to original places on own sidelines
17-24 The 1st and 2nd couples, likewise the 3rd and 4th couples, dance the set and rotate progression. All join hands on the sidelines and set (2 bars); then (in natural fours) all cast clockwise one place to end facing own partners up and down the dance (2 bars); change places with partners giving right hands (2 bars) and chase on one place clockwise (2 bars); ending with the 2nd and 3rd couples on the sidelines in top and bottom places respectively, the 1st couple in second place facing the men's side and the 4th couple in third place facing the women's side
25-26 Continuing the way they are going, with no polite turns, the 1st and 4th couples dance left hands across halfway, ending with the 4th couple in second place facing the men's side and the 1st couple in third place facing the women's side (all on opposite sides)
27-32 The 4th woman casts up one place, crosses over at the top of the set and casts down to second place on her own side while her partner leads up one place, casts down round the 2nd woman and crosses to second place on his own side. At the same time the 1st man casts down one place, crosses over at the bottom of the set and casts up to third place on his own side while his partner leads down one place, casts up round the 3rd man and crosses to third place on her own side. After crossing over on bars
31-32 the 4th man and 1st woman pull back their right shoulders to turn and face in ready to start again

Repeat with a new top couple

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


Dance Instruction Videos

Napier's Bones - Scottish Country Dancing Instruction Video

Dance Information

This dance, Napier's Bones, was dedicated to John Drewry of Aberdeen.

For details of the Set and Rotate Progression as originally devised and published (in both strathspey and reel time) reference should be made to the instructions for Brimmond and The Tyrebagger by John Drewry, Aberdeen (1986).

Suggested tune: The Jig O' Slurs.

Devised December 1987; first published 1988; republished electronically 2020.

Copyright 1987, 1988, 2020 Lewis N. Derrick.


John Drewry was born in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire and first took up Scottish country dancing in Whitehaven, Cumbria. He joined the RSCDS Carlisle branch and was awarded the RSCDS teaching certificate, tutored by Jackie Johnstone. Hugh Foss, another distinguished dance deviser, encouraged Drewry to begin to create dances in Cumbria. Drewry first became associated with Aberdeen in the 1960's, working in the biochemistry department of Aberdeen University (working alongside Isobel Cramb) and remained in Aberdeen thereafter.

Drewry was awarded an RSCDS Scroll In 1999 for his contribution to Scottish country dancing with many of his dances appearing in RSCDS books, and altogether, over 800 dances to his name.

It is rare to see a Scottish country dance program which does not include at least one of his dances and on many occasions all of the dances were devised by John Drewry.

John Drewry Image
John Drewry - Scottish Country Dance Deviser


Dance information from The McGhie Scottish Country Dance Books, Volume 3, Peggy Mcghie's Reel And Other Scottish Country Dances, reproduced here with the kind permission of the deviser, Lewis N Derrick.
Text from this original John Drewry article by Jean Martin.

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