A bothy ballad aboot a woman farm worker, mibbe a 'kitchie deem' wha admires the handsome young ploughman frae afar.

Doon yonder den there’s a plooboy lad,

And some simmer’s day he’ll be aa my ain.

An sing laddie aye, and sing laddie o,

The plooboy laddies are aa the go.

Doon yonder den I could hae gotten a miller,

But the smell o stour would hae deen me ill

Doon yonder den I could hae gotten a merchant,

But aa his riches wereny worth a groat

I love his teeth and I love his skin,

I love the very cairt he hurls in

I see him comin fae yond the toon,

Wi aa his ribbons hingin roon an roon

And noo she's gotten her plooboy lad,

As bare as ever he's left the ploo

This is a bothy ballad. A bothy was a place whaur unmarried farm workers lived, and sang songs at nicht. A ‘kitchie deem’ wis a kitchen maid, wha lived in the fairmhoose along wi the farmer an his faimily, an wha worked verra hard. In this song the quine wants tae escape the hard work o the fairm, includin gettin fuel fur the fire frae the ‘stack’, but rejects her admirers in the toon, the merchant an the miller. Here ‘den’ means a fairm in a narrow wooded valley.

'Plooman Laddies' is performed by Christine Kydd. From Dark Pearls (CD), CUL 115D, Culburnie Records.



This is one o the maist famous o aa the old bothy ballads.

As ah gaed doon tae Turra Merket,

Turra Merket fur tae fee,

Ah met in wi a wealthy fairmer,

The Barnyards o Delgaty.

Linten adie, tooren adie,

Linten adie, tooren ay,

inten lowerin lowerin lowerin,

The Barnyards o Delgaty.

He promised me the twa best horse

I ever set my een upon.

When ah gaed hame tae the Barnyards

There was nothin there but skin and bone.

The auld grey mare sat on her hunkers,

The auld dun horse lay in the grime.

For aa that I would ‘hup’ and cry,

They wouldna rise at yokin time.

When I gang tae the kirk on Sunday,

Mony’s the bonny lass I see,

Sittin by her faither’s side,

Winkin ower the pews at me.

Some can drink and no be drunk,

And some can fecht and no be slain.

I can coort anither man’s lass,

And aye be welcome tae my ain.

Ma candle noo is fair brunt oot,

The snotter’s fairly on the wane,

Fare ye weel, ye Barnyards,

Ye’ll never catch me here again.

The young plooman at the farmtoun caaed Barnyards of Delgaty had gone tae the toon o Turriff (Turra) tae ‘fee’ - tae get employment on a fairm fur three or sax months. The fairmer promised twa fine workin horses, but he lied. The ‘snotter’ is the burnt wick o a caundle. The Delgaty estate is a mile north east o Turriff, in North East Scotland.

This bothy ballad is sung by Ewan McVicar, wi accordion accompaniment by Mary Kennedy.

吀爀愀挀欀 㠀
(唀渀欀渀漀眀渀 愀氀戀甀洀 ⠀ 㔀开㄀㄀开㈀ ㄀  ㄀ 开㔀)


In 1411 Lord Donald o the Isles an his army mairched across the North-East o Scotland. Twa miles north-west o Inverurie the Highlanders met a Lowland airmy. The battle wis inconclusive, but the Hielanders withdrew.

The detail given in this ballad doesny agree wi historical accounts, since it suggests that the Lowland army won. The result o the fighting wis a draw, though the invading Hielanders then withdrew.

But the build up o tension tae the ferocious fecht, then the sad ootcome, are carried well forrard by the jaunty tune.

As I cam by the Garioch land, and doon by Netherha'

There were fifty thoosan Hielanmen a-marchin tae Harlaw.


Singin didee-i-o, Sing fal la do, Sing didee-i-o-i-ay.

“It's did ye come fae the Hielans, man, an did ye come a' the wey,

An did ye see MacDonald an his men as they marched frae Skye?”

“It's I come fae the Hielans, man, an I come a' the wey -

An I saw MacDonald an his men as they marched frae Skye.”

“It's wis ye near and near enough, did ye their number see?

Come tell to me, John Hielanman,what might their number be?”

“For I was near and near enough an I their number saw:

There were fifty thoosan Hielanmen a-marchin tae Harlaw.”

For they went on an furder on an doon an by Balquhain:

It's there I met Sir James the Rose ai him Sir John the Graham.

"If that be's true", said Sir James the Rose, "We'll no come muckle speed.

We will call upon wer merry men and we'll turn wer horses' heids."

"Oh nay, oh nay", said Sir John the Graham, "Sic things we maunna dee:

For the gallant Grahams were never bate an' we'll try fit they can dee."

For they went on an furder onan doon an by Harlaw:

They fell full close on ilkae side sic strikes ye never saw.

They fell full close on ilkae side, sic strikes ye never saw -

For ilkae sword gied clash for clash at the battle o Harlaw.

The Highlandmen wi their lang swords they laid on us fu sair;

They drove back wer merry men three acres breadth an mair.

Lord Forbes to his brother did say "O brither, dinna ye see?

They beat us back on every side, And we'll be forced to flee."

"O nay, O nay, my brother dear, O nay, that maunna be.

For ye'll tak your guid sword in your hand and ye'll gang in wi me."

For the two brothers brave gaed in amangst the thrang;

They swote doon the Hielanmen wi swords both sharp an lang.

The first strike Lord Forbes gied the brave MacDonald reeled,

The second strike Lord Forbes gied the brave MacDonald fell.

What a cry among the Hielanmen when they seed their leader fa,

They lifted him an buried him a lang mile frae Harlaw.

This dramatic ballad is sung by Jeannie Robertson.



The Scots whaling ship The Diamond sailed frae Peterhead. 200 years ago, heading fur the Davis Strait between Greenland an Canada.

The whalers would be away for several months, so their womenfolk dressed in their best shawls tae see them aff.

In 1819 the ships named in this song were waitin fur the pack ice tae melt, but the wind changed an they were aa caught an frozen in. The sailors knew this might happen, an they hud put tree trunks inside the hulls tae make the ships stronger. One by one the ships were squeezed flat, but the sailors knew by the sounds this wis goin tae happen, an they could escape ontae the ice. They lived in tents made frae the sails and burnt their ship’s timbers fur warmth. They suffered greatly, but after many months they were rescued and cam hame. They left The Bonnie Ship the Diamond an the other ships behind, crushed flat by the Greenland ice.

The Diamond is a ship, ma lads, for the Davis Strait she's bound,

And the quay it is aa garnished wi bonnie lassies round.
Captain Thomson gives the order tae sail the oceans high,
Where the sun it never sets, ma lads, nor darkness dims the sky.

And it's cheer up, ma lads, let yer hearts never fail.
When the bonnie ship The Diamond goes a-fishing for the whale.

Along the quays at Peterheid the lassies stand aroond,

Their shawls all pulled aboot them and the salt tears rinnin doon.
Oh, don't you weep, my bonnie lass, though ye'll be left behind.
For the rose will grow on Greenland's ice before we change our mind.

Here's a health tae the Resolution, likewise the Eliza Swann,
Here's a health tae the Battler O Montrose, and the Diamond ship o fame.
We wear the troosers o the white, an the jaickets o the blue,
When we return tae Peterheid we'll be sweethairts wi you.

It'll be bright baith day and night when the Greenland lads come hame,
Wi a ship that's full of oil, ma boys, and money tae oor name.

Here's a health unto the Diamond bright, the skipper and the crew,
Here's a health tae every bonnie lass that has a heart so true.


MacPherson’s Rant 

The story o the song is largely true. James Macpherson was an outlaw in the North East o Scotland, one o the traivellin people an the leader o a band o robbers. He was said to hae been generous to an popular wi the poor people, but the enemy o Lord Duff, the Laird of Braco. Macpherson wis caught in Keith, an hanged at the Cross o Banff on 16th November 1700. It is said he wis a fine fiddler, an the night afore he wis hanged he composed this tune, an played it on the scaffold. Then he offered tae gie his fiddle to onyone wha would play the tune at his wake. No-one would, so he smashed the fiddle. 

The tune is very popular amongst Scottish fiddlers. The pieces o Macpherson’s fiddle are displayed in the Macpherson Clan House Museum in Newtonmore. 

Fareweel, ye dungeons dark and strang, fareweel, fareweel to ye,

MacPherson's time will no be lang on yonder gallows tree.

Sae rantinly, sae wantonly, sae dauntinly gaed he.

For he played a tune and he danced it roond, below the gallows tree.

It was by a woman's treacherous hand that I was condemned to dee.

For above a ledge at a window she sat and a blanket she threw ower me.

The Laird o Grant, that Highland saunt, that first laid hands on me,

He played the cause on Peter Broon tae let MacPherson dee.

Untie these bands frae aff my hands and gie tae me my sword,

And there's no a man in all Scotland but I'd brave him at a word.

There's some come here tae see me hang, and some come tae buy my fiddle.

But before that I would part wi her I'd brak her through the middle.

So he took the fiddle intae baith o his hands and he brak it ower a stone.

Sayin, “Nay other hand shall play on thee when I am dead and gone. “

The reprieve was comin ower the Brig o Banff tae set MacPherson free,

But they pit the clock a quarter afore, and they hanged him frae the tree 

How To Keep Warm
Artist (P4/5)

How Tae Keep Waarm

Over 300 years ago on a freezin cauld Sunday near Christmas, the people o Tullich, a wee village near Ballater, were waiting ootside the church, but the minister didny not arrive tae open the door. Tat keep waarm, they sent uor a piper an made up a dance an a tune fur it, The Reel Of Tullochgorum.

This song was made by Ballater Primary P4/5 in 2017 wi Ceilidhmakers.

It’s affa caald at Tullich Kirk

Affa caald, affa caald

Affa caald at Tullich Kirk

Waitin fur the Minister

Fit’ll we dee tae keep warum?

Fit’ll we dee, fit’ll we dee

Fit’ll we dee tae keep warum?

Lets hae a ceilidh

Lets mak up oor ain dance

Oor ain dance, oor ain dance

Lets mak up oor ain dance

Send fur Rabbie the Piper

Middle finger tae yur thumb

Brave and gallus, brave and gallus

Middle finger tae yur thumb

Like the stag on the mountain

Birrl yur partner, pas de bas

Up on yur taes, up on yur taes

Birrl yur partner, pas de bas

Caa it the Reel o Tullich

Caa it the Reel o Tullich