Crying the Neck
Crying The Neck is a harvest festival tradition practised in the Duchy of Cornwall, Britain. The tradition was also once popular in the county of Devon, but its practice there has since died out. The tradition was revived in the early twentieth century by the Old Cornwall Society.
In The Story of Cornwall, by Kenneth Hamilton Jenkin, the following explanation is given on the practice:
- "In those days the whole of the reaping had to be done either with the hook or scythe. The harvest, in consequence, often lasted for many weeks. When the time came to cut the last handful of standing corn, one of the reapers would lift up the bunch high above his head and call out in a loud voice.....,
- "I 'ave 'un! I 'ave 'un! I 'ave 'un!"
The rest would then shout,
- "What 'ave 'ee? What 'ave 'ee? What 'ave 'ee?"
and the reply would be:
- "A neck! A neck! A neck!"
Everyone then joined in shouting:
- "Hurrah! Hurrah for the neck! Hurrah for Mr. So-and-So"
(calling the farmer by name.)"
Modern Popular Culture
In a harvest scene in the third episode of the second series of the 2015 reboot of Poldark, Francis Poldark performs the tradition at Trenwith, his estate.
In a harvest scene in the third episode of supernatural drama The Living and the Dead, Charlotte Appleby performs the tradition at her husband's family's farm, which she manages.
- Popular Romances of the West of England collected and edited by Robert Hunt
- The custom as described in 1836 by W. Hone from the Legendary Dartmoor webpage
- What exactly is a Corn Dolly? Picture of a Cornish Neck from The Guild of Straw Craftsmen website.
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