Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

The Twa Corbies (Boyd)

Scottish Country Dance Instruction

THE TWA CORBIES (J8x32) 2C (4C set) Iain Boyd Let's All Dance

1- 8 1s dance down between 2s and cast up on own sides, 1s turn 2H (pas-de-basque)
9-16 2s dance up between 1s and cast down on own sides, 2s turn 2H (pas-de-basque)
17-24 1s cross RH, cast down 1 place (2s step up 3-4), 1s dance ½ fig of 8 round 2s
25-32 2s+1s dance R&L

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


Dance Instruction Videos

The Twa Corbies (Boyd) - Scottish Country Dancing Instruction Video

Dance Information

Also see the dance Twa Corbies (Russell/McConachie) by Edna Russell And Jack McConachie.

The title of this dance, Twa Corbies, comes from The Twa Corbies - Song written heavily in the Scots language, probably dating from the 18th century, first published in Walter Scott's Minstrelsy in 1812.

In The Twa Corbies Song, the 2 corbies tell that the hawk and the hound have forsaken their master, and are off chasing other game, while his mistress has already taken another lover. The ravens are therefore given an undisturbed meal, as nobody else knows where the man lies, or even that he is dead. They talk in gruesome detail about the meal they will make of him, plucking out his eyes and using his hair for their nests.

As I was walking all alane,
I heard twa corbies making a mane;
The tane unto the t'other say,
'Where sall we gang and dine to-day?'

The Twa Corbies was derived from The Three Ravens - Song (Child 26, Roud 5), an English folk ballad, printed in the song book Melismata compiled by Thomas Ravenscroft and published in 1611, but it is perhaps older than that.

The earlier Three Ravens ballad takes the form of three scavenger birds conversing about where and what they should eat. One tells of a newly slain knight, but they find he is guarded by his loyal hawks and hounds. Furthermore, a "fallow doe", an obvious metaphor for the knight's pregnant lover or mistress ("leman") comes to his body, kisses his wounds, bears him away, and buries him, leaving the ravens without a meal. The narrative ends with "God send euery gentleman / Such haukes, such hounds, and such a Leman".


"Twa Corbies" is Scots for "two ravens or crows".

A raven is one of several larger-bodied species of the genus Corvus. These species do not form a single taxonomic group within the genus.

There is no consistent distinction between "crows" and "ravens", and these appellations have been assigned to different species chiefly on the basis of their size, crows generally being smaller than ravens.

A crow is a bird of the genus Corvus, or more broadly is a synonym for all of Corvus. The term "crow" is used as part of the common name of many species. There are 40 known species of crows throughout the world.

The Twa Corbies Song - Information Video

Raven's - Information Video

Two Ravens
Twa Corbies - Two Ravens, Of The Tower Of London


Dance information licensed under this Creative Commons Licence 3.0.
Text from this original The Three Ravens article on Wikipedia.
Text from this original Common Raven article on Wikipedia.
Text from this original Crow article on Wikipedia.
Image copyright User:Colin/Wikimedia Commons, via Wikimedia Commons

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