CHILDREN in Teesdale are learning the steps of a traditional dance with weapons for the first time in almost a century.

Longsword dancing started in the 15th Century and is believed to have carried on until the start of the First World War, when many of the men who performed it were sent to the front line.

Now the Music at The Heart of Teesdale Project (M@HoT) is bringing it back by running lessons at Teesdale School in Barnard Castle.

Longsword dancing is relatively slow and involves making complicated shapes with the swords held at both ends, the hilt and the point.

It is closely associated with seasonal folk plays called mummers plays, and usually involved a group of six to eight men with the dance often performed around Christmas.

The dance was researched by Mike Bettison with the help of dance tutors Patrick Langdon and Helen Bishop.

Mr Bettison said: “We hope that we can build on this and find a permanent place for this Teesdale tradition at the school.”

Year 7 student Heather McLachlan said: “Longsword dancing is so unusual.

“I’m looking forward to learning new moves, finding how it works and becoming more comfortable with the dancing.

“I like it because you can be creative at the same time as you are learning.”