The Everyday Lore Project

10 October 2020 – Bolving

10 October 2020 – Bolving
Jake Humphrey as My Celebrity Boyfriend.

The old Welsh and the Scots Gaelic knew the tenor of their months, calling October hyddfref and damb respectively, namely the month of the rutting stags. And when a stag goes a-wooing, instead of attracting his beloved with a bottle of Blue Nun and a family size bar of fruit and nut, he prefers to bolve. Or as one bloke at the 2015 Bolving World Championship on Exmoor put it, makes a noise like a mooing chainsaw. 

Bolve isn’t actually a world, nor is bolving, but it’s still used to describe the sound made by those who practice the art. No, not the stags, that would be weird. I mean the humans who like to stand around in the cold and make noises like sexed up cervines. 

Around 2003 on Exmoor, one guy bet another guy that he could get a stag to answer him and bolving was born. And now it’s become a tradition in several places around the country, and if 2020 hadn’t have been cancelled, this weekend probably would have been the annual Longshaw Estate Bolving Championship in the Peak District, so I thought I would have a go. 

Now, bolving is not really the sort of noise you want your neighbours to overhear you making. For reference, this is what a red stag bolving sounds like (complete with indignant side eye):

And here’s another:

And now here’s me:

My first attempt I like to call Pirate At The Dentist, my second, Drunken Ex-Boyfriend Ordering Kebabs, my third, The Count From Sesame Street, and the last, Elderly Ghost With Bladder Infection. 

But my best effort I think is Maiden Aunt Eating Eclairs:

Right, now it’s your go. Don’t pretend like you don’t want to. And if you’re game, you can send a recording to and I’ll post it on future days, or you can just tag me in @lilithepunk on Twitter. And if you need further inspiration about this brilliant tradition, here’s more on the 2015 Bolving World Championships:

Meanwhile, I think I may need to investigate sore throat remedies.


Header: Jake Humphrey posing as My Celebrity Boyfriend in Richmond Park. With two stags. What were we thinking…

Published by Liza Frank

Author of My Celebrity Boyfriend. Obsessed with hula hooping, sons of preachermen and fresh dates, sometimes all at the same time. Curator of Folklore Agony and The Everyday Lore Project.

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