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The horns | Abbots Bromley horn dance | Birmingham City Council

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The horns

The original horns, carbon-dated to be 1000 years old, are reindeer antlers. How they came to England and arrived in the village of Abbots Bromley is a mystery, but possibly they were brought over by the Vikings.

During the English Civil War (1642 to 1651) the horns were kept hidden (probably in the church) and it is estimated that they came out again in 1703 when Lord Paget returned from Turkey laden with gifts including six elk horns.

These horns were used for dancing outside the local area, and the reindeer horns were kept for use in Abbots Bromley. Two families were responsible for keeping the tradition alive at this time - the Adey and Bentley families. This is probably the time when the Horn Dance proper was born, with the Hobby Horse and Bowman being pushed back in importance.

The Abbots Bromley Horn Dance is England's oldest danced tradition, but there are similar types of dancing with horns all over the world.