Wyvern Welcome the the Web Site of the Icknield Way Morris Men; morris dancing in Wantage and the Vale of White Horse Vale of White Horse

Photo Album

- Crotals from the Deep
Home Page of Icknield Way Morris Men The Vale The Side Traditions Events Diary Bookings Hot Links Whats New
Photo Album
arrow Folk Station
arrow Three Countries Tour
arrow Spires and Boden
arrow Squire's Wedding
arrow Shrivenham Fete
arrow Brightwalton Fete
arrow May Morning
arrow St George's Day
arrow Our Ale
arrow Oxford Folk Festival
arrow Future of the Morris
arrow Joe Marns
arrow Abingdon Arms 2008
arrow Minnesota Morris
arrow Westminster Tour
arrow May Morning

The Tudors
arrow 2000 Years of Oxon

arrow Rush Bearing
Kennet and Icknield – United in Marriage

Lads Team Debut
Wallingford BunkFest
Saddleworth Tour

Ring Meeting: Mendip
Grove Scouts
Newbury Festival
May Morning

St George's Day
New Year's Day

Lains Barn Ceilidh
Christmas Carols

Ladies Night

Yangtze Incident
Ben's Wedding
Daily Mail article
Our Ale
Jigs Tour, Leeds

Lains Barn
Crotals from the Deep

Geoff's Wedding

Stanton Harcourt Tour
Our Ale
Alfred Titchcombe
Unicorns Race Night
Dickensian Evening
Law Victory


Morris 18-30 Weekend
Our Ale
Somerset Tour
Michael McArdle Trophy
May Morning
Scouring the White Horse
Stanton Harcourt
Christmas Carols


Headington Instructional
Our Ale
May Morning
40th Anniversary
- Album 1

- Album 2
Betterton House
Millennium Party
The Lads Team
Crawford’s Wedding
On Tour
Dickensian Evening
Letter of Appreciation

Post Practice Sessions

Eyston Arms
The Abingdon Arms

The Kings Arms
The Volunteer
Musicians Corner

Revival Photos
arrow Old Boys


Morris Bells Recovered from Davy Jones Locker or Crotals from the Deep

Crotals (Morris Bells)
Crotals (Morris Bells)

Mike Heaney wrote a short note to ‘The Morris Dancer’ in 1990 establishing the correct name for morris bells as crotals, following earlier observations in 1981 and 1984 (1-3). The bells are also variously known as “coarse bells”, “horse bells”, “enclosed bells”, “jingle bells” and “cluster bells” but for the purist, it’s a crotal.

This essential ingredient of the morris was an imported item, and Mike refers to Dietz’s The Port and Trade of Early Elizabethan London (4) to note that they were being unloaded in the port of London in 1568. Wilan’s A Tudor Book of Rates records that in 1582 the bells were worth 5 shillings a gross, and John Forrest has remarked on the constancy of this value for more than 75 years (5).


The above photograph illustrates the goods under discussion. I took it in the excellent Maritime Museum in Dubrovnik. The exhibit shows morris bells contained in wooden casks ca. 25 x 12 cm. They were recovered from the cargo of an unknown merchant ship that sank ca. 1690 in the Drevine region off the coast of the Kolocep Islands. The cargo was contained in 47 wooden crates and was mostly made in Venice and Northern Europe. They are remarkably well preserved for having spent over 300 years in Davy Jones’s Locker.

It is always nice to see history realised and particularly so in this case, since the Museum is housed in the very solid Fort of St. John, thus ensuring that our morris bells also survived the 2000 bombs, shells and missiles rained on Dubrovnik by Serbian forces between 1991 and 1992. I wonder if there is any connection between CROtal and CROatia?

Sem Seaborne
Icknield Way Morris Men
October 2004


  1. The Morris Dancer Vol. 2, No. 11, 1990, 194
  2. Ibid. Vol.1, No. 10, 1981, 16
  3. Ibid. Vol. 1, No. 19, 1984, 18
  4. London Record Society 1972, pp. 45,49,51,68,82
  5. The History of Morris Dancing 1458 - 1750, John Forrest, James Clark & Co., Ltd. Cambridge 1999

Full details of this account are available as a PDF file PDF icon(127kB).

Copyright © Icknield Way Morris Men | Legal Notices | Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Accessibility | Help | Contact Us
Comments?  Please complete a Feedback form