This weekend just gone I had an amazing adventure on the banks of a moonlit reservoir. A group of revelers re-created an old folk rite invoking the spirit of the fox for the Hunter's Moon.
The story is rather Wicker Man. Legend has it that water sources in the area began to dry up. The local lord led processions around the muddy remains of a lake in the hope of restoring the level and in doing so found a strange chest in the mire. This casket was recovered and within it was found a book purported to be 'The Red Book of Langsett'. After a bit of good old English conspiracy the ritual of the fox procession was born.
The locals of Langsett have revived this tradition and the resulting spectacle is quite stunning. Crowds gather by a local inn and the hooded, masked revelers process by the light of burning torches along the bank of the reservoir up to the pub. There they sing and dance to drum beats by the eery glimmer of the full moon and the their ritual culminates in the burning effigy of a fox head. Ninety minutes outdoors on a chilly British night is not normally something I'd consider sane, but I wouldn't have missed this for the world.
You can find out more about the Langsett Fox Dance here.