Skara Brae

Scottish Country Dance Band

(Click here if you require our Barn Dance / Ceilidh Band)

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Dorset based Accordion & Fiddle Scottish Country Dance Band

For price and availability - contact Kate on 01202 914128 or email


What is a Scottish Country Dance?

Scottish country dancing ("SCD") is a type of social dancing involving groups of mixed couples tracing progressive patterns of steps according to a predetermined choreography. Country dancing is not to be confused with Scottish highland dancing or as a type of folk dancing; although this is not strictly true - deriving its roots from the courtly dances of the Renaissance, when it became popular around the 18th century, it filled the niche that is occupied today by ballroom dances such as the quick step or waltz, as a fairly refined form of entertainment. Related more to English country dancing and contra dancing rather than to styles like ceilidh dancing, "Old Time" dancing, Irish set dancing, or square dance.

The music consists of Scottish jigs, reels and strathspeys which are played to a strict tempo. Traditionally the first tune and the number of times the tunes are played are fixed although adding an extra couple in the set will add to the length of the dance.

Skara Brae play the correct music for dances when specified, mainly in a 12342341 order (4 couple dance). This order ensures that each couple gets a different tune to dance to and as the first tune is also last, dancers are assured when the dance is on its last time through. Extra music can easily be added for extra couples.

Skara Brae know how difficult dancing to the wrong tempo can be as Kate our fiddle player is also a dancer and an RSCDS teacher, so all tunes are played to the correct tempo for dancing.

About the band

Kate Carpenter (fiddle and whistle).

Kate started to learn the violin as a child of 8 at about the same time that she also started Scottish dancing. She played with many groups, orchestras and choirs, with a wide selection of music throughout her childhood. After moving to Dorset as an adult, she joined the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society and attended the Bournemouth Branch. She became a member of the Heather Mixture display team and has danced at many displays and tattoos across the South of England, including the Royal Albert Hall. She trained as an RSCDS Scottish country dance teacher in 2004.

Robert Baird encouraged her to start playing fiddle with his band at the Minstead dances, and she went with them to play at a Scottish festival in Moscow and in the Cossack region in Russia. She also played with Ken Martlew at summer schools in France and Germany. When she was told about Irish sessions, she began to play at her local session every week. Here she was given the opportunity to join the band "Murphy’s Lore", with whom she played for 5 years. She and Jim formed the Scottish Dance Band Skara Brae in November 2004 playing for the Broadmayne dances.

 In the daytime, she teaches the violin, recorder and sax in school and at home. She has just started an under 19's fiddle orchestra with some of her pupils, giving them opportunities to perform folk music. She recently acquired a folk harp, which she is trying to find the time to practise!!

Jim Lush (piano accordion - midi).

Jim's musical career started at the age of seven when he took up the clarinet in hot pursuit of Aker Bilk. He soon realised that this was a futile move and took up the cornet instead playing in various brass bands. The accordian was therefore his next logical instrument??

With influences from "Silly Wizard" and "Gary Blair" it was not long before he was honing his Scottish technique, always fancying himself as main tune player rather than second box. With "Skara Brae" though this has changed as he is just as happy playing chords and counter melodies than playing the tune.

"Even though I have been playing for dancers for nearly twenty years I still get a great buzz playing for Scottish country dancing".

A brief history of Skara Brae

Skara Brae was formed in 2004 when Jim & Kate decided that there was a opening for an affordable Scottish Country Dance Band in the South of England. The name Skara Brae comes from a historical settlement on the west coast of Orkney (off northern Scotland).

Having played together for over eleven years, Jim & Kate have a well rounded and full sound consistent with a band twice their size complimenting each other with melodies, harmonies, chords and bass. They have played at venues over most of Southern England, France and the Channel Islands and have a busy diary for the future.

Jim & Kate mainly perform for Ceilidhs and Barn Dances as Swing Your Partner which includes Guitar and/or Bodhran. They have bookings for 2014 and into 2015 including a repeat booking for the Halsway Manor weekend among other new and established dances

Clients comments


"Hi Kate,

Sorry for the delay in sending you this email, but on behalf of everyone at the Havannah Officers' Mess I would just like to thank you and the band for such a great evening of entertainment at our Burns Night on Friday. Your music really made the evening, and many people have asked me to pass on their compliments; we loved both the music during dinner, and the dancing afterwards. One of my guests, who is serving in a Scottish Regiment, was amazed at how you were able to get everyone up and dancing, despite the fact that we had no previous Ceilidh experience - in his Mess, they practice every week to achieve the same effect! I hope you enjoyed being part of our evening, and look forward to welcoming you into our Mess again at some point in the future.

Many thanks, Katie


"Dear Kate & Jim

What a fabulous evening! due so much to your tremendous playing. Thank you so much for the lovely music you provided for us - I have had numerous messages & thanks & expressions of praise for your contribution.

I am indeed blessed with so many good friends & it would seem that they all enjoyed the evening as much as I did."



"Many thanks to you both for a wonderful performance at our party last night."



"Dear Kate & Jim

Thank you so much for all the super music at our Broadmayne Dances.

Love from V & T"


Contact us

We play for SCD / RSCDS, Burns nights, St Andrews, Hogmanay, Weddings, Parties and any other celebration you may entertain. We are based in Dorset near Bournemouth and cover most of the South Coast including Hampshire, Wiltshire, Devon, Somerset and further afield.

If you would like to hold a Scottish Country Dance / Barn dance / Ceilidh email Kate at or phone 01202 914128 for price and availability.

We look forward to making your dance a memorable one.

Kate & Jim.