‘The Old Measures’ is a familiar but curious little collection of dances long thought to have been closely associated with the legal Inns of Court in London. This view has been supported not only by contemporary references but also by the apparent connections between the authors of the source manuscripts and the Inns. However, the more recent discovery of the manuscript in Somerset has led one or two commentators to question the strength of this association.
A further scrutiny of these connections may help to determine the nature and function of this small group of dances, whether they were current in the wider social sphere and happened to find their way in to the Inns along with other dances of the day or held a unique place embedded in the esoteric traditions of one particular institution. Is it possible to ascertain who danced the old measures and why, and what might be the significance of the answers to these questions?