We very much hope that the 2021 Festival at Bolton Castle will go ahead as planned. We will most likely need to make various adaptations to fit the new realities, and elements of the festival are therefore subject to change. Any questions, please just get in touch

Medieval Music in the Dales 2021: A Dance In Italy

This year at Medieval Music in the Dales our focus is on medieval dancing and music from Italy. We are delighted to be working with the Historical Dance Society to deliver an unrivalled programme of medieval dance workshops and performances.

As usual, there is also a wonderful variety of musical performances and workshops. This is what's on offer:

  • A Study Day on Fifteenth-Century Dance

  • Six daytime concerts in St Oswald's Church

  • Two evening concerts in St Oswald's Church - Friday and Saturday evenings

  • Dance performances in the Great Chamber of Bolton Castle

  • International exhibition of instruments by leading makers

  • Family activities on Sunday

  • Our ever-popular Cabaret & Ceilidh on Sunday evening

  • Twenty-five workshops, including the Festival Choir and the Festival Carollers. These two groups will prepare and deliver a performance of singing and dancing for the Sunday afternoon Festival Finale

  • Six talks

  • One-to-One Tutor Sessions

  • Loads of informal playing with led and free-form sessions in the Tavern

It's worth remembering that the best way to attend the Festival is to get a Festival Pass, because that includes ALL daytime concerts, performances and talks as well as evening access to the Tavern. You only then need to pay extra for workshops, evening events and the Study Day. If you haven't got a Festival Pass you need to pay (in the usual way) for  daytime access to the Castle (price information here) and for daytime concerts (£15) and talks (£5) in the Church, and there is no evening access to the Tavern.

These listings are accurate at the time of listing - they may be subject to change but it should be minimal!

Concerts & Performances

All concerts this year take place in St Oswald's Church, hard by the Castle. All daytime concerts are free with a Festival Pass, while the evening concerts need to be specifically booked through the Festival Box Office. Our three dance performances on Saturday all take place in the Great Chamber of Bolton Castle.


Woodwose: Per Quella Strada Lactea

Steve Tyler: hurdy gurdy, cittern, gothic harp

Katy Marchant: bagpipes, shawm, recorders

Ricardo de Noronha: percussion, fujara 

Nuno Silva: Persian santur, oud 

A concert celebrating the rich sumptuous tapestry of Italian 14th century polyphony and its overlapping rhythmic syncopations that makes the harmonies dance. Played and performed with passion and the spirit of adventure and improvisation on hurdy gurdy, Persian santur, oud, bagpipes, recorders, shawm, gothic harp, cittern, and percussion. Featuring compositions by notable composers of the day including Johannes Ciconia, Gherardello da Firenze, Francesco Landini, anonymous examples from the Codex Rossi and the famous dances of MS. Add 29987. 

Woodwose was formed in 2012 as an offshoot of medieval/theatrical band Daughters of Elvin, initially playing mostly their own compositions. Now the band play much medieval music, often using bagpipes and hurdy gurdy. There is a flexible lineup with the core of Katy Marchant and Steve Tyler. For MMitD we are playing with two Portugese musicians - Ricardo de Noronha (who we often play with) and Nuno Silva.

Friday 1pm, St Oswald's Church. Free with Festival Pass.

Woodwose are also playing in the Saturday evening concert


Vagarem: A Musical Journey Through Italy and Beyond

Léo Calzetta: voice, percussion

Carina Taurer: voice, hurdy-gurdy

Mathieu Rossi: voice, bagpipe, shawm

Vagarem are a wonderfully dynamic trio from France, equally at home with lively festival music or - their signature sound - rare and delicate polyphonies sung a capella. This concert takes in polyphonic song and instrumental dance music from Italy and France.

Friday, 4pm, St Oswald's Church. Free with Festival Pass.

Vagarem are also playing in the Saturday night concert.

The Friday Evening Concert: 7.30pm, St Oswald's Church 

The Medieval Music in the Dales evening concerts are a highlight of the festival, featuring shorter sets from a selection of the concert performers. The Friday evening concert this year features:

  • Peppe Frana and Enea Sorini

  • Trouvere

  • Gaita

Tickets £15, available through the Box Office.​


Peppe Frana & Enea Sorini: 

Che Ti Giova Nascondere 

Peppe Frana: lute, gittern

Enea Sorini: voice, percussion 

Two outstanding performers visit us from Italy for a concert of

'games of music and words in the Italian Ars Nova'. Instrumental istampitte (dance tunes) and monophonic songs combine in a scintillating programme of the gorgeous sounds of the Trecento.

Peppe Frana is a guitar wizard. Starting on the electric guitar, he then became entranced by the modal music of the near east, and from there - via an encounter with Ensemble Micrologus - he was inspired by medieval music, and the plectrum lute. He quickly became one of the most appreciated soloists and teachers specialising in Italian trecento repertoire.

Enea Sorini specialises in the vocal music of the medieval period and the renaissance. He performs widely with Ensemble Micrologus and Les Musiciens de St Julien amongst others. 

Saturday afternoon, 1pm, St Oswald's Church. Free with Festival Pass.

Peppe and Enea are also performing in the Friday evening concert.

Gaita: Days of the Decameron

Cait Webb: harp, shawm, script 
Chris Elmes: lute, gittern, bagpipes, shawm
Helena MacGilp: voice, lute, percussion
Theodora Hidalgo: medieval viol
Ruth Pollitt: narration, shawm, recorders

Gaita are Scotland's leading medieval ensemble and are regulars at Medieval Music in the Dales with hugely popular dance workshops as well as musical performances. This year they present music and tales from medieval Italy, with a programme of stories from Boccaccio's Decameron mingled with the music of the time. 

Saturday afternoon, 4pm , St Oswald's Church. Free with Festival Pass.

Gaita are also playing in the Friday evening concert

The Saturday Evening Concert: 7.30pm, St Oswald's Church 

The Medieval Music in the Dales evening concerts are a highlight of the festival, featuring shorter sets from a selection of the concert performers. The Saturday evening concert this year features:

  • Woodwose

  • Vagarem

  • Archaedium

Tickets £15, available through the Box Office.​


Archaedium: The Squarcialupi Codex - Landini and his contemporaries

Mary Mohan: bowed strings, voice

Rose Lawrence: recorders, voice

Rachel Williams: bowed strings, voice

Catherine Mohan : harp, percussion

A programme of pieces selected from the Squarcialupi Codex, presented on voices and instruments. The 14th Century was a time of great upheaval and change in the city-state of Florence. The city was ruled not by church or aristocracy, but by the business elite of the guilds who formed confraternities who prayed and sang together. The music of these guilds  is collected in the Squarcialupi Codex.

Sunday, 1pm, St Oswald's Church. Free with Festival Pass.

Archaedium are also playing in the Saturday evening concert


Trouvere: A Dance in Naples

Paul Leigh: gittern, lute, flutes

Gill Page: harps, voice, percussion

Richard de Winter: voice

In the last decades of the thirteenth century, Naples was capital of a brilliant and ambitious kingdom under the Angevin kings. One of the great monuments of this kingdom is the Chansonnier du Roi, the songbook of the King, which was likely created to be a gift for William II of the Morea, but ended up in Naples. As well as its unrivalled collection of the music of the troubadours and trouveres, this Chansonnier also contains the earliest European instrumental dance tunes. Trouvere take you to the glittering court of Naples for songs and instrumental music.

Sunday, 2.30pm, St Oswald's Church. Free with Festival Pass.

Trouvere are also playing in the Friday evening concert where they will be joined by dancer Charlotte Ewart.

Dance Performances on Saturday  in the Great Chamber of Bolton Castle

2-3pm: Renaissance Footnotes 

A wonderful whistle-stop tour through no fewer than 16 dances from the fifteenth century, accompanied by live music from Myal Piper, Lizzie Gutteridge and guests.

3-4pm: Charlotte Ewart & Dancers with Trouvere: The Tournament of Chauvency

The thirteenth-century poem about the 1285 tournament at Chauvency contains fascinating details of the dancing with which the nobles at the tourney entertained themselves of an evening. Dancer and dance historian Charlotte Ewart brings some of these dances to life, with live music from Trouvere.

4-5pm: Dance Past

Back to the fifteenth century for another selection of dances from Italy, accompanied by live music from The Presence and De Mowbray's Musicke.

All performances take place in the Great Chamber and each lasts 45-55 minutes within the times indicated. Free to Festival Pass holders and Castle visitors. 

Study Day with Hazel Dennison: Thursday 10th September 

Domenico da Piacenza: Maker of Dances, Master of Dancing

De la Arte di Ballare et Danzare is the work of Domenico da Piacenza and is classified as primary source Pd. Domenico was acknowledged as the founder of a new form and style of dancing in the northern and central Italian courts of the fifteenth century. He worked for the d’Este court in Ferrara creating works for court celebrations and theatrical performances. 

This workshop provides a working understanding of the Pd source through Domenico’s four musical mesure: Piva, Saltarello, Quadernaria and Bassadanza, and his core steps: Doppio, Sempio, Continenza, Ripresa.

We will

  • dance the steps and some step sequences in each of the four mesure to determine the rhythmic and dynamic differences which Domenico employs through creative juxtaposition throughout his work.

  • trace and dance Belreguardo, a classic juxtaposition of Saltarello and Bassadanza in Domenico’s ballo for two. This in turn will open up a choreographic framework of Space, Line, Time and Dynamics with which to identify key factors and phrases in English and Italian.

  • celebrate all these skills in tracing and dancing La Ingrata. This ballo uses all four mesure and some skillful footwork in a dramatic challenge between two men and a lady.

All material used in this Study day comes from the new HDS publication Dances from Domenico c.1450 (www.historicaldance.org.uk)  It provides practical realisation of all the dances in Pd together with detailed information on the music, steps, skills and conventions required for the Perfect Art of Dancing. 

Image: British Library Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts

Our Study Day this year is led by Hazel Dennison, whose work draws on a diverse practice of dance, drama and theatre studies through teaching, production, performance, choreography and research. Find out more here. She is currently working on a choreographic perspective of Domenico da Piacenza et Ferrara. ​


The ticket (£48) includes a midday buffet and refreshments.

Thursday, 10am - 4.30pm, Reeth Memorial Hall

Workshops & One-to-Ones

Remember that you must have a Festival Pass for the day of any workshop you want to attend. Please also take a look at the PDF (above) and check the level (Beginner / Intermediate / Advanced) of the workshops you are interested in.

Every Day:

The Festival Choir, led by Richard de Winter

This was such a big hit last year that it had to be repeated. This year the Choir will sing laude and ballate - Italian spiritual and secular songs. On Sunday the Festival Choir will perform in the Festival Finale, where they will also sing to accompany the Festival Carolers.

Richard de Winter sings with Trouvere and Passamezzo and is a highly experienced choral singer. 

11.30am-12.15pm, Friday, Saturday, Sunday in St Oswald's Church

£20 for the whole course.

The Festival Carolers, led by Charlotte Ewart

Wake up with a Carole! The carole was the most popular form of medieval dance - even if we don't know exactly what it was like! Dancer and dance historian Charlotte Ewart leads our carollers in a morning physical warm up / workshop on medieval dance of the thirteenth century, covering possible interpretations of the Carole, Estampie and Ductia and building up to a performance on the Sunday as part of the Festival Finale.

9-9.45am, Friday, Saturday, Sunday in the Great Chamber of Bolton Castle.

£20 for the whole course.

Friday Workshops:

In the Church

9-11.30am: Medieval Song, with Enea Sorini. £25.

11-45am-12.30pm: Festival Choir (see above). 

In Lord Scrope's Chamber

9-10am: Beginner Shawms, with Lizzie Gutteridge. Instruments provided. £10.

10-11.30am: Drumming for Dancing, with Terry Mann. £15.

5.30-7pm: Playing for the Bassadanza, with Chris Elmes. £15.

In the Castle Bolton Meeting Room

9-11.30am: Lute and Gittern, with Peppe Frana. £25.

11.30am-1pm: Ensemble Playing for Beginners, with Mary Mohan. £15.

5-6.30pm: Bray Harp (for those new to the instrument), with Leah Stuttard. £15.

In the Great Chamber

9-9.45am: Festival Carole (see above)

10-11.15am: Medieval Dance for Beginners, with De Mowbray's Musicke. £12.

11.30am-1pm: Dancing in the English Mystery Plays, with Hazel Dennison. £15.

5.30-7pm: Medieval Dance (Advanced) Session One, with Robert Huggett. Two session course - £25.

In the Church

9-10.30am: The Psaltery

11-30am-12.15pm: Festival Choir (see above). 

In Lord Scrope's Chamber

5.30-7pm: Ensemble Playing for Loud Instruments, with Lizzie Gutteridge. £15.

In the Tavern

9.30-10.30am: Beginner Bagpipes, with Paul Leigh. Instruments provided. £10.

In the Castle Bolton Meeting Room

9-10.30am: Frame Drumming, with Ricardo de Noronha of Woodwose. £15.

11am-12.30pm: Ensemble Playing for Intermediate Players, with Mary Mohan. £15.

5-6.30pm: Medieval Music and Turkish Modes, with Nuno Silva of Woodwose. £15.

In the Great Chamber

9-9.45am: Festival Carole (see above)

10am-1pm: Medieval Dance (Intemediate), with Gaita. Two sessions with a brief break. £20.

5.30-7pm: Medieval Dance (Advanced) Session Two, with Robert Huggett. Two session course - £25.

In the Church

9-10.30am: Polyphonic song, with Vagarem. £15.

11-30am-12.15pm: Festival Choir (see above). 

In the Tavern

9.00-10.15am: Medieval Harp for Beginners, with Gill Page.  £10.

10.30-11.30am: Beginner Bagpipes, with Paul Leigh. £10.

In the Castle Bolton Meeting Room

9.00-10.30am: The Bray Harp (for any experienced harp player), with Leah Stuttard.  £15.

11am-12.30pm: Medieval Bagpipes, with Paul Martin. £15.

In the Great Chamber

9.00-9.45am: Festival Carole (see above)

10am-1pm: Ensemble Playing of Trecento Music, with Peppe Frana and Enea Sorini. £25.

1-2.30pm: Dancing Verceppe, with Hazel Dennison. £15.

In the Courtyard 

Family workshops

Medieval Morris! Learn morris dance moves to medieval music, with Tony Lacey and Linda Hencher.

Free with Festival Pass and for all children (under 18s), otherwise £5. 11.00-11.45am, 2.00-2.45 pm

Dress Medieval - make a simple medieval costume.

£5 per child (under 18s), adult helpers free! 10.30am - 2pm. 

Saturday Workshops:
Sunday Workshops:

This year we are also featuring One-to-One Tutoring Sessions with experienced players and teachers. These offer the chance of an hour of personal tuition. More information on the PDF, but our tutors this year are:

Lizzie Gutteridge: Shawm, Bowed Strings, Recorder

Paul Leigh: Transverse Flute, Beginner Bagpipes

Terry Mann: Pipe & Tabor

Paul Martin: Bagpipes, Jaw Harp

Leah Stuttard: Medieval Harps

Steve Tyler: Hurdy-Gurdy

Richard de Winter: Voice


Friday 10.30am, The Tavern

Medieval Dance Music Sources, with Gill Page of Trouvere.

Manuscripts galore! An illustrated tour through some of the principal sources for medieval dance music outlining what they can and can't tell us. Gill Page is a medieval historian, a musician, storyteller and medieval text editor with Trouvere, and the director of Medieval Music in the Dales.

Friday 2.30pm, St Oswald's Church

Plague, Religion and Power: The Squarcialupi Codex and the Florentine Guilds, with Mary Mohan of Archaedium.

The 14th Century was a time of great upheaval and change in the city-state of Florence. The city was ruled not by church or aristocracy, but by the business elite of the guilds who formed confraternities who prayed and sang together, known as laudesi. They employed composers, singers and instrumentalists to perform during their laudesi services, thus establishing stable, professional institutions, the music of which is collected in the Squarcialupi Codex. This talk will explore the social context of the music of the Florentine Trecento. Mary Mohan is the director of Archaedium.

Saturday 10.30am, The Tavern

Dance in the Thirteenth Century, with Charlotte Ewart

Before the arrival of written choreography in the fifteenth century, there are no specific descriptions to enable us to recreate medieval dance. But the earliest surviving dance music is from the later thirteenth century. Dancer and dance historian Charlotte Ewart explains how a variety of sources can be used to attempt to recreate these lost dances.

Saturday 10.45am, St Oswald's Church

The Medieval Wire-Strung Harp, with Bill Taylor of Ardival Harps

A presentation with live musical examples, featuring wire-strung harps made by Ardival Harps, representing those played in Scotland and Ireland, and heard in England and throughout Europe, from the 9th-15th centuries and beyond.

Saturday 5pm, St Oswald's Church

Redefining the Medieval Fiddle, with Barry Pearce

Unveiling startling new research into the fiddle, this talk explores the data from the largest iconographical survey to date, tens of thousands of string calculations, literary evidence, and preliminary research on the compass of medieval music, leading to conclusions that will challenge our perception of medieval fiddles, their configuration, pitch and tuning. These findings open up the world of the medieval fiddle and explain the connection between the medieval and renaissance periods. 

Sunday 10.45am, St Oswald's Church

The Medieval Dance of Death, with Natasha Coombs

The Danse Macabre or Dance of Death is perhaps best known as the late nineteenth century work of Saint-Saens, but its origin is much earlier. In the early fifteenth century poems and wall paintings of the Dance appeared across Northern Europe and it is also recorded as having been performed. We will attempt to define how that performance looked and sounded...

All talks last around 45 minutes and are illustrated with period images, or live performance, or both. 

All are free with Festival Pass; those in St Oswald's Church are £5 without a Festival Pass. Be aware that there is not much room in the Tavern - arrive early if you want to be sure of a place.

Other Events

The Cabaret & Ceilidh on Sunday night

Our Sunday night closing party is many people's highlight of

the festival as we gather in the Castle for music, tales and dancing.

This year, the evening will start with a buffet at 7pm; the Great Chamber

will be the venue for the entertainment from around 7.30pm, and the

Solar will be transformed into a Tavern for the evening.

Sunday 7-11pm, everyone out at 11 please so we can tidy up!

Tickets £15, includes buffet.

Dancing and Jamming in the Great Chamber on Thursday night

Make yourselves at home in the Great Chamber on Thursday evening -  the fire will be lit and the candles burning - so feel free to dance and play. There'll be a bar on hand, with Proper Pizzas serving as well. This event is open to all Festival Pass holders, and there is no charge. 

Thursday 7-11pm, with everyone out of the castle by 11.30pm at the latest please!

Free with Festival Pass

Tunes in the Tavern

Perhaps you're new to medieval music? Or want to learn some new stuff? Join one of the festival's leading players for a slow medieval music session in the tavern early each eveningBring your instrument and get stuck in to pick up a few tunes, perhaps over a pint of the festival's own Mediev-Ale...

Thursday, Friday and Saturday 6-7pm, in the Tavern.

Free with Festival Pass.

The Grand Festival Finale

All welcome in the Great Chamber around 4pm on Sunday for the Grand Finale of the Festival, featuring music from the Festival Choir and dancing from the Festival Carolers. The all-important Raffle will be drawn and we are also planning an exciting Auction to raise funds for Medieval Music in the Dales.

Plus the Big Group Photo - the more the merrier!


And then there's the completely informal playing scene in the Tavern on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights after the Castle closes to the public. It's not to be missed - and is open only to Festival Pass holders.

Medieval Music in the Dales is organised and run by Trouvere Medieval Minstrels

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© 2019 by Medieval Music in the Dales, Yorkshire, England. Proudly created with Wix.com.

Photos of Medieval Music in the Dales 2016 by Quentin Budworth or Lesley Dunn

unless otherwise credited on the page. Photos of Medieval Music in the Dales 2017 by participants including Philippe Bolton,

Phil Keen, Richard and Carol Benson, Yvonne Napper and Lesley Dunn.

Photographs of MMitD 2018 and 2019 by Gullwing Photography (gullwingphotography.co.uk) and various participants.