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Silver Wind
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PostSubject: Dance   Mon Jul 23, 2007 10:50 am

Another custom that was probably included in rituals was dance. But there is very little evidence to show us how the Germanic peoples danced, whether religiously or socially. There are mentions of Germanic youths who took part in a kind of dance that involved the use of weapons, but whether this was religious or not isn't known. Evidence to support the use of dance in religious rites amongst the Anglo-Saxons is from the discovery of archaeological artefacts, that seem to show individuals performing such 'dances'. Firstly is the Finglesham belt buckle, which clearly shows a naked man armed with two spears and wearing a kind of horned helmet. The horns themselves could possibly be birds. Some have even said that this could be a representation of Woden. The other artefact is from the plates of the Sutton Hoo ship burial helmet, which shows the image of two elaborately dressed men partaking in a kind of religious dance whilst holding swords and spears. The design also seems to show the figures actually dancing around spears on the ground, and as the figures are elaborately dressed, and also wear similar horned helmets to the figure on the Finglesham belt buckle, it could indicate that these are high priests rather than just common worshippers. Very very similar to the dancers on the plate from the Sutton Hoo helmet is the design of a man found upon a fragment of foil in Lincolnshire, again possibly from a helmet. This fragment only shows the upper half of a man, but the way he is dressed, elaborate clothing and horned helmet, shows that the two dancers from the Sutton Hoo helmet are not alone in their design, but have comparisons found elsewhere in England.

The Finglesham belt buckle figure, and the two dancers from the Sutton Hoo helmet should also be compared to the Long man of Wilmington. This is a huge figure of a man that is approximately 231 feet from head to heel, which, is carved into an English hillside. This giant carries two sticks in both hands, that could possibly be spears. And looked at side by side with the Sutton Hoo and Finglesham belt buckle dancers, a clear resemblance in design is clear to see. Also interesting is that the feet from the Long man of Wilmington are shown to be pointing to the right, showing him to be either walking or dancing. This pointing of the feet is exactly the same as that from the man on the Finglesham belt buckle. One custom that could have involved dance, and a custom that is still practised today, is that of hoodening. This custom involves dressing up in animal skins or carrying the animals head. During the Anglo-Saxon's conversion to Christianity, the missionary Saint Augustine is quoted as condemning the 'filthy practice of dressing up like a horse or stag'. Although there is no mention here of dancing, it would seem very likely that such a custom would involve doing more than just dressing up, and would also involve some kind of ritual/religious dance.

Like all cultures, ancient and modern, it would be strange if the Anglo-Saxons and fellow Germanic peoples didn't partake in some form of dancing. And judging by the scant evidence, both archaeological and literary, it seems that they very likely did.

http://www.homestead.com/englishheathenism/dance.html

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