Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

The Unjust Incarceration

Scottish Country Dance Instruction

The Unjust Incarceration 32 bar Strathspey for 2 couples Rod Downey The Tuatara Collection
A two couple, 32 bar Strathspey.

1-8 First and second couples dance four hands across and back, finishing on the diagonal holding partners with two hands, in order from the top, first man, first lady, second man second lady. (Thus the first lady and second man are back to back.)
9-12 Dance from this position a modified half poussette. That is dance as if you were doing a half poussette, but add an additional half a turn at the end to open out (second man releasing right hand and first man left hand) to finish on the sidelines, second couple on women's side and first on men's with the men at the top. (This resembles the opening out of a tourbillon. Strictly speaking the first couple does not really have an extra turn, rather they "open out" on bar 12.)
13-16 Both couples set and overlink, meaning that the linking travels a bit further to finish in a line of four across the dance in order (from the men's side), 1M, 1W, 2M, 2W, so that the first woman and second man are back to back.
17-24 The four dancers dance the isobirl. To wit:
 17-18 1M and 1W, 2M and 2W set advancing to change places, 1M and
2W finish facing. Similarly third and fourth couples.
 19-20 1M and 2W turn with two hands ¾ and then birl on the spot at then end to finish with 2W facing up and 1M facing down. They will be in a line of four up and down the dance facing in order from the top, 1W, 2W, 1M and 2M as the 1W and 2M have cast to the clockwise ¼ round the outside. Similarly third and fourth couples.
 21-24 Repeat 17-20 with the roles exchanged so that you finish in original places.
25-28 2W followed by her partner, and 1M followed by his partner dance a clockwise chase around to progressed positions, second couple at the top, and first at bottom on own sides.
29-32 All turn partner with two hands once around.

(Dance crib compiled by the deviser Rod Downey, Johnsonville SCD Club Tutor)


Keith Rose's Crib Diagrams


Dance Information

This dance, The Unjust Incarceration, was devised 25/6/2011, with a correction on bar 12 found by Roberta Gotfried and her group.

The isobirl formation is due to Terry Glasspool. I learned of this formation from my correspondences with Malcolm Brown. Bars 9-12 are taken from a dance of Harry Ways, and I thought that it is sympathetic to the isobirl movement. Malcolm Brown offers a variation for 4 couples.

The name of the dance is one of my favourite piobaireachds (Pibroch, piobaireachd or ceòl mòr is an art music genre associated primarily with the Scottish Highlands that is characterised by extended compositions with a melodic theme and elaborate formal variations).

King James I imprisoned his political enemies on Bass Rock, a grim volcanic plug in the Firth of Forth. This included Walter Stewart. In 1428, 14 year-old Neil Bhass Mackay was imprisoned on the rock in exchange for his father's freedom. In an attempt to pacify the Highlanders, James imprisoned 40 Chiefs including Angus Dubh Mackay of Strathnaver. Though he was soon released his eldest son Neil, was retained as hostage for the good behaviour of the Clan and since his mother was a daughter of MacDonald of the Isles, for that Clan too.

Following the murder of King James at Perth in 1437 Neil escaped from the Bass and was proclaimed 8th Chief of the Clan Mackay.

A pobaireachd commemorating this event 'The Unjust Incarceration' was composed by the blind piper of Gairloch, Iain Dall Mackay.

Recommended music is "There's nae luck aboot the hoose" played ABAB and a suitable recording is "The World of Scottish Dance" by Colin Finlayson and his Scottish Dance Band, track 9.

The Unjust Incarceration
The Bass Rock 1690
Location For The Unjust Incarceration


Published in The Tuatara Collection.
Dance information from The Tuatara Collection Of Scottish Country Dances, reproduced here with the kind permission of the deviser, Rod Downey.
Dance information licensed under this Creative Commons Licence 3.0.
Text from this original Pibroch article on Wikipedia.
Image copyright The original uploader was David Lauder at English Wikipedia., CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons.

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