YFA:  Regional Traditions

the Plough Stotts

Yorkshire Folk Arts Logo



Patrons: Norma Waterson MBE & Kate Rusby



promoting folk arts through partnership




Navigation icon: mummer 


  Index of Traditions



  Y.F.A. directory

  About Y.F.A.

  Contact Y.F.A. 





gradiant fill


The Plough Stotts



The Fool Plough: drawing by George Walker, 1814

The engraving and text here are taken from George Walker's book The Costume of Yorkshire, first published in 1814.


The Fool Plough

"This is the name given to it by Strutt, though it is better known in
Yorkshire under the title of Plough Stotts, which may not improbably be derived from the German word stütze, a prop or support. Plough Monday, or the first Monday after Twelfth-day, has been considered as the Ploughman's holiday, and the annexed Plate represents a ludicrous procession on that day, not unlike that of the Mummers, or Morris-dancers, at Christmas. The principal characters in this farce are the conductors of the plough, the plough-driver with a blown bladder at the end of a stick by way of whip, the fiddler, a huge clown in female attire, and the commander in chief, Captain Cauf Tail, dressed out with a cockade and a genuine calf's tail, fantastically crossed with various coloured ribbands. This whimsical hero is also an orator and dancer, and is ably supported by the manual wit of the plough-driver, who applies the bladder with great and sounding effect to the heads and shoulders of his team."

George Walker, The Costume of Yorkshire, London: 1814. Reprinted 1885.

Sidney Oldall Addy has a brief entry in his A Glossary of Words used in the Neighbourhood of
Sheffield (London 1888, vol II p 177):

"PLOUGH-BULLOCKS [plew-bullocks], sb. pl. plough-stots.
The men who are called the plew-bullocks, or plough-bullocks, and who represent ploughmen, go about on Plough-Monday, the Monday next after Twelfth-day, from house to house, drawing a plough without its share. If money is not given to them they threaten to put the share in, and plough the 'door-stone' up. One of the men who drives the plough has a bladder fastened to the end of a whip. They generally come at night. The one who carries the whip is very gaudily dressed in women's clothes."


A number of Plough Monday and Plough Bullock plays (the latter chiefly from Nottinghamshire) can be seen, with related material, at the website of the Traditional Drama Research Group at
Sheffield University.
See also their review of the book The Return of the Blue Stots: An Aspect of Traditional Drama in Yorkshire by Chas Marshall and Stuart Rankin.




  Home   Top of page