THE WILD HUNT AND THE GREEN MAN
The Wild Hunt Bedlam Morris team was formed in September, 1991, meeting appropriately in the shadow of a hill known as Bedlams Bank at Merstham in Surrey. The name of our team is taken from a legend with ancient origins deeply rooted in myth and race memory across much of Northern and Central Europe and this is reflected in our style of dancing and the kit we wear.
The Wild Hunt was said to sweep over fields and through woodland in the dead of night, preceded by a pack of coal black hounds with glowing red eyes accompanied by the wild calls of hunting horns. At times, the hunt was said to take to the air riding on the chill night winds. Odin was said to lead the hunt in Teutonic myth and the quarry was a beautiful maiden. In Celtic Britain, the hunt was led by Cernunnos, the horned god of animals, whose name lives on in place names beginning with Cerne such as Cerne Abbas in Dorset – home of the chalk giant. In English legend, the quarry is a stag of purest white.
The Wild Hunt is a ‘mixed’ team dancing in the energetic, noisy and more exuberant Border tradition with men and women dancers and musicians. We wear ‘tatters’ – tattered jackets predominantly black interspersed with green rags for men and red for women. Many Border sides dance with blacked-up faces, but The Wild Hunt is a masked side, an alternative that was believed to be unique when it was introduced, but has now been copied by other sides. Battery-powered light emitting diodes just above the eye sockets glow red when dancing at dusk, but the team also has its own Green Man, Graham Hyde, who wears special kit and has eyes that flash green in the darkness.
Our dances blend ancient North European mythology with our own interpretation of English Bedlam Morris and several portray the legend of the Green Man. We aim to capture some of the original mystique and provide a magical experience for our audience with the emphasis on drama and spectacle. The team performs about twice a month on average from April to December and apart from performing at local pubs, also takes part in folk festivals and other exciting events around the country.
Take a look at our website: www.wildhunt.org.uk