The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #80264   Message #1463144
Posted By: Malcolm Douglas
16-Apr-05 - 04:32 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: The Witches' Reel (Scots)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Scots Song: 'the witches' reel'
That explains "crone and queen", then. Someone has misunderstood "queyn", which of course just means "girl" (OE cwene).

A transcription of Newes from Scotland, taken from the Bodley Head edition of 1924, can be seen at Various websites reproduce the woodcuts, and there are several relevant studies by Dr Edward H. Thompson of Dundee University at

Only two lines of the dance-song are quoted, so the rest must have come from somewhere else (the trial transcripts, according to "Chantan"). It may have been a well-known thing at the time. According to Sands' Sketches of Tranent in the Olden Time (1881), James actually had poor Gellie (sic) Duncan play the tune for him at Holyrood, not that it did her much good.

There is a short sound sample of the recording at,,364909-679340,00.html. The tune sounds vaguely familiar, but perhaps only because it's one of those ubiquitous trichord things. At any rate, it isn't Lowe's The Witches.

It seems that Murray is misleading over the number of people tried, so best disregard my earlier remark on that point. It isn't relevant to the song or its tune anyway.