Recommended Reading

In Association with I frequently get asked for sources of information for Scottish Dancing, and I tend to recommend the same set of books. So here are books I think you may find useful references for Scottish Dance, together with short descriptions for each. I also have links so you can buy them from - if you buy them this way, Amazon will pay me commission on each book bought, which will help offset my costs in running this web site.

See also the books on and of Scottish dress (eg kilts, and tartan), Scottish Humour, Scottish Fiction, Scotland, Scottish Children's books and the computer books I have found useful in my work.

Collins Pocket Reference: Scottish Country Dancing

The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society

ISBN: 000472500X

Buy this now from This book covers the basics very well, and also has a large collection of both ceilidh and country dances. If you want a book to pick up the basics, this is the book for you.

Highland Dancing: Textbook of the Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing

Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing

ISBN: 1898169012

Buy this now from This is the textbook of the SOBHD. It contains Basic Positions, Basic Movements and Basic Steps, followed by descriptions of the following dances: The Highland Fling, The Sword Dance (Gillie Chalium), Seann Truibhas, Strathspey, Highland Reel, Basic Reel Steps and Reel of Tulloch or "Hullachan".

Traditional Dancing in Scotland

Joan and Tom Flett

Tom and Joan spent years touring Scotland to find out how dancing was done "within living memory" - which, given they started in the 50s, stretches back to the 1890s. It covers how dancing worked, with the "dancies" or dancing masters touring their areas, teaching for a term, holding an end-of-term ball and then moving on. It also describes some dances, and has specific chapters on dancing in Shetland and Orkney. A very good history of Scottish Dance around the turn of the century.

Traditional Step-dancing in Scotland

Joan and Tom Flett

Scottish Cultural Press, 1996

ISBN: 1898218455

Buy this now from This is the step-dance equivalent of Traditional Dancing in Scotland. As well as several chapters of history, it has descriptions of a goodly collection of dances, written from watching performances on their travels. Again, a valuable reference.

Scottish Country Dancing

The darling diversion

Evelyn M. Hood

ISBN: 0004111109

A history of Scottish Dancing up to "the present day". Seems fairly thorough, though the final chapter reads like a deification of Miss Milligan.

Scotland's Dances

Hugh Thurston

reprint: Teachers' Assoc of Canada, 1984. This book discusses highland and country dances; it is short and very readable.

Roll Back the Carpet

Hugh and Alison Foss

ISBN: 0904102211

Buy this now from A series of essays about devising Scottish Country Dances, by one of the great dance devisors of the 20th century. An interesting read for those interesting in writing dances.

Listen to your pain

Ben Benjamin

ISBN: 014006687X

Buy this now from "Listen to Your Pain" is written by a sports medicine doctor from New York. It details injuries, how to diagnose, treatments and exercises.
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Edinburgh, Scotland