Circle games and dances are found all over the world, not least because everyone is an equal part of the whole and everyone can see what’s happening. One version of Green Gravel was collected from Mrs Harley, Bewdley, Shropshire by Lucy Broadwood and J A Fuller Maitland and published in English County Songs, 1893.
Lucy Broadwood described the game that was played: A circle of girls stand hand in hand, one child in the middle; they sing and at the words “turn round your head,” the child named by the one in the middle has to turn face outwards and join hands again. The game goes on till all the children are turned face outwards.
It’s long been the custom in many parts of Britain to cover a grave with green gravel, as one of the pictures shows. The music among the photos is from four other versions of the song, which seems to have been widespread.