Every year in the village of Slithorp, part of the county of Hookland, the Clackerman Festival is held. Traditionally held on October 13, it is now held on the nearest Saturday to that date. The Clackermen, all males above the age of 14, dress in white trousers and white smock shirts, festooned with corn stalks woven together. They dance through the town, capering, leaping, chanting and beating the shin bones of horses together.
On first examination the festival appears nothing more than a variant on the old tradition of ‘beating the bounds’, however it does bear closer inspection. A brief background first.
The Clackerman Festival has no clearly defined origin, however note of it is made in the marginalia of the Parish Records of 1348, during the height of the Black Death. The brief entry reads Batillus et eiecit a malis spirituous, or ‘The clacker men drove out the evil spirits’
The tradition seems to have continued, almost continuously down to the modern age, with obvious changes occurring to the ritual itself.
The Clackermen gather in the village centre and begin by chanting
Ooh way wit ye
Wid bone and axen
At which point the Clackermen reach into their pockets and fling pinches of ash into the air, and wave the horse bones wildly.
Ooh way wid ye
To your tump a go
More ash is flung now, but also salt.
Ooh way wid ye
At this point all of the Clackermen now start the capering and leaping, jumping up to people and with leering faces, beat the horse bones together loudly, scattering salt and ashes
They repeat this at random, not only to people but to houses, door drinking troughs etc.
They do this throughout the entire village, spreading themselves out to ensure every area is visited.