Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

Wisp Of Thistle

Scottish Country Dance Instruction

WISP OF THISTLE (S8x32) 3C (4C set) Pat Kent RSCDS Book 37 and Nova Scotia Collection 2017

1- 8 1s and 3s Petronella turn into centre and set to partners; 1s+3s dance ½ Reel of 4 up and down centre of dance
9-16 3s and 1s Petronella turn onto own sides and 3s+2s+1s set; 3s+2s+1s turn partners RH to end ready for Allemande
17-24 3s+2s+1s dance Allemande
25-32 1s cross RH and cast down 1 place, dance ½ Fig of 8 round 2s to end in 2nd place

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

Keith Rose's Crib Diagrams

Dance Instruction Videos

Wisp Of Thistle - Scottish Country Dancing Instruction Video

Dance Information

Wha daurs meddle wi me, roughly translated, is the motto of The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle.

Actually, on the Order's badge it says in Latin "Nemo me impune lacessit" (No one provokes me with impunity). Most Ancient and Most Noble notwithstanding, I think we would all agree that the rough Scots version has the most ominous tone.

It is said that the importance of the thistle to Scotland goes back to the Battle of Largs in 1263. A few longboats of Norsemen landed there in the dead of night, trying, to take advantage of sleeping clansmen in the vicinity. They crept ashore barefoot to hide their presence, but unfortunately, for them, tried to cross a field of thistles in the process. Now, the thistle is known for its vicious porcupine-like spines and as such doesn't have any natural enemies amongst the fauna and flora of Scotland.

A Norseman yelped in pain as his bare foot stepped on one of the thistles. This awakened the locals and the battle was formed. Having been "meddled with," so to speak, the Clansmen won the day, and the thistle became a symbol of Scotland's (dare I say?) prickliness, from that day on... or so it is said!

How to segue from prickly spines to wisps? Well, thistles have them both, the wisps being the feathery puffs that can float in the air like, for example, dandelion seeds.

I am told that the late Queen Mother, herself a Scot, on once seeing a Strathspey being performed, referred to the dance as being like a "wisp of thistle". This comment may not have escaped the attention of Nova Scotian RSCDS teacher, Patricia Kent, who devised the Wisp of Thistle strathspey that appeared in Book 37 in 1992.

The Barry Pipes Canon 028- October, 2009.

(Dance information from set and 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)

Thistle Down
Thistle Down

Image copyright ceridwen under this Creative Commons Licence 2.0.

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