An age-old tradition returns to the streets of Maldon on Monday.

Some 30 molly dancers and about a dozen musicians are preparing to come together as Mud Munquay Molly and blacken their faces for the barmy annual festivities associated with Plough Monday.

Large crowds are again expected to fill High Street for the spectacle.

First revived in 1993, the ancient custom dates back to about 1520 and is held to honour the contribution made by the district’s agricultural workers.

Hundreds of years ago, the event was used to highlight that if hard-up agricultural workers starved in the lean, winter months then there would be nothing to eat in the summer because there would be no one to harvest summer produce.

They would carry a plough from door to door, dancing and playing folk music in exchange for money or food.

Those who did not contribute would have their gardens ploughed, with the culprits hidden by their blackened faces.

This year, the event, which no longer involves the churning up of gardens, starts at Hythe Quay at 7.30pm, before continuing up High Street.

Music and dancing is expected to take place outside the Swan Hotel at 8.15pm and All Saints’ Church, where festivities will conclude, at 8.45pm.