Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafemuddy

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


Help: 'Lyke Wake' beyond song & usual meaning

DigiTrad:
LYKE WAKE DIRGE
WILLIES LYKE-WAKE


Related threads:
(origins) Origins: Lyke Wake Dirge (60)
Tune Req: Lyke Wake Dirge (14)


katlaughing 29 Jun 00 - 02:04 PM
Bagpuss 29 Jun 00 - 02:15 PM
katlaughing 29 Jun 00 - 02:21 PM
katlaughing 29 Jun 00 - 02:23 PM
Sorcha 29 Jun 00 - 02:24 PM
katlaughing 29 Jun 00 - 02:36 PM
Lanfranc 29 Jun 00 - 06:44 PM
Malcolm Douglas 29 Jun 00 - 08:16 PM
katlaughing 29 Jun 00 - 08:32 PM
Susan of DT 29 Jun 00 - 09:44 PM
katlaughing 29 Jun 00 - 11:37 PM
A Wandering Minstrel 30 Jun 00 - 10:04 AM
bobby's girl 30 Jun 00 - 02:00 PM
katlaughing 30 Jun 00 - 02:09 PM
Peg 30 Jun 00 - 02:12 PM
Hollowfox 05 Jul 00 - 12:31 PM
katlaughing 05 Jul 00 - 12:33 PM
GUEST,JH 15 Jun 04 - 08:35 AM
GUEST,CR 15 Nov 10 - 04:18 AM
MGM·Lion 15 Nov 10 - 05:21 AM
Georgiansilver 15 Nov 10 - 05:27 AM
MGM·Lion 15 Nov 10 - 05:32 AM
Noreen 15 Nov 10 - 05:34 AM
Jack Campin 15 Nov 10 - 05:48 AM
Georgiansilver 15 Nov 10 - 05:59 AM
GUEST,Guest - Betsy 15 Nov 10 - 07:53 PM
Jack Campin 15 Nov 10 - 07:56 PM
peregrina 16 Nov 10 - 01:50 PM
Tootler 24 Jan 12 - 05:55 PM
GUEST,Paul Burke 25 Jan 12 - 01:59 AM
Dave Hanson 25 Jan 12 - 03:18 AM
Tootler 25 Jan 12 - 05:08 AM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:









Subject: 'Lyke Wake' beyond song & usual meaning
From: katlaughing
Date: 29 Jun 00 - 02:04 PM

I read a reference to an old custom called "lyke wake" in a recent Elizabeth Scarborough book, a light-hearted mystery, in which she freely admits to taking license with dates and historical figures, including Sir Walter Scott.

In the book, the lyke wake is conducted by the sheriff immediately after a murdered body is laid out, to enable the corpse to animate enough to name their murderer. Apparently, this was an older tradition that almost any *wise* person could do earlier on, but had died out to just the authority of the law knowing how to conduct it by the era Scarborough writes of in the book.

I would like to know more about this ancient custom. The only things I've been able to find are the Lyke Wake Dirge, which Micca pointed me to in the DT and the following references. If anyone else knows more, please post it here. Thanks.

The Lyke Wake Walk is named after the procession over the Moors by mourners on a wake (lyke being the name for a corpse). The symbol of this walk is a badge of a black coffin!

And,from an excellent University of Toronto site here, an excerpt from Antiquary by Scott, Chapter 40:

52 ``Your honour,'' said Ailison Breck, who was next in age to the deceased, ``suld send doun something to us for keeping up our hearts at the lyke-wake, for a' Saunders's gin, puir man, was drucken out at the burial o' Steenie, and we'll no get mony to sit dry-lipped aside the corpse. Elspeth was unco clever in her young days, as I can mind that chancy - Ane suldna speak ill o' the dead - mair by token, o' ane's cummer and neighbour - but there was queer things said about a leddy and a bairn or she left the Craigburnfoot. And sae, in gude troth, it will be a puir lyke-wake, unless your honour sends us something to keep us cracking.''

53 ``You shall have some whisky,'' answered Oldbuck, ``the rather that you have preserved the proper word for that ancient custom of watching the dead. - You observe, Hector, this is genuine Teutonic, from the Gothic Leichnam, a corpse. It is quite erroneously called Late-wake, though Brand favours that modern corruption and derivation.''

54 ``I believe,'' said Hector to himself, ``my uncle would give away Monkbarns to any one who would come to ask it in genuine Teutonic! Not a drop of whisky would the old creatures have got, had their president asked it for the use of the Late-wake.''

Thanks!!

kat


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: 'Lyke Wake' beyond song & usual meaning
From: Bagpuss
Date: 29 Jun 00 - 02:15 PM

I don't know a lot, but here's what I do know. The Lyke Wake was indeed a funeral procession, across the North Yorkshire moors, and the Lyke Wake dirge was the song sung as they processed (Pentangle do a good version of it). More recently, there has been a Lyke Wake Walk, which is a tough fell walking challenge - crossing the moors in one day, I think.

We have a book about the walk that gives some of the history of it - but I cant find it just now, have you tried searching online bookshops?

Bagpuss


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: 'Lyke Wake' beyond song & usual meaning
From: katlaughing
Date: 29 Jun 00 - 02:21 PM

Oh, thanks, Bagpuss, I did find all of that and that first quote is from a site about the Lyke Wake Walk...it looks lovely and I should cited my source.

What I am really looking for, though, is information on the supposed custom of "lyke-wake" which entailed a murdered corpse being questioned about who its murderer was. I originally was interested in if there had ever been any songs about such, which brought me to the Lyke Wake Dirge....but I've not been able to find anything on an actual old lyke wake in the sense that I read about.

thanks,

kat


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: 'Lyke Wake' beyond song & usual meaning
From: katlaughing
Date: 29 Jun 00 - 02:23 PM

Oh, I forgot, some of the "lore" about these also suggests that the corpse did accuse in rhyme, "just as the old ballads said." THAT is really what got my curiousity up...the mention of old ballads about it!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: 'Lyke Wake' beyond song & usual meaning
From: Sorcha
Date: 29 Jun 00 - 02:24 PM

I didn't know this! Cool info, kat. Will you share what you find? (my knowledge factoid for the day)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: 'Lyke Wake' beyond song & usual meaning
From: katlaughing
Date: 29 Jun 00 - 02:36 PM

Sure, Sorcha, and as soon as I find the book I am talking about, I will post a couple of quotes....stomps off muttering to herself, "Now where in the hell did I stash that one so that I'd not forget where it was for easy reference!? LOL


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: 'Lyke Wake' beyond song & usual meaning
From: Lanfranc
Date: 29 Jun 00 - 06:44 PM

My experience of Lyke Wakes is less dramatic, but moving nonetheless.

THe custom is for the corpse to be taken to the church on the night before the funeral. Family and friends attend a short service and then may stay or come and go as they please, but always in silence, and illuminated only by candles.

We held such ceremonies for both my mother-in-law and father-in-law in Halifax, Yorkshire.

The family forbad me to sing the dirge, however.

"Fire and fleet and candleleet and Christ receive thy saule"


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: 'Lyke Wake' beyond song & usual meaning
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 29 Jun 00 - 08:16 PM

I shouldn't be at all surprised if Elizabeth Scarborough (not a writer whose work I know) got the idea from a ballad like  Young Benjie  or something similar; what she seems to have done is confuse the lyke wake (a perfectly normal custom) mentioned in the song with the quite separate folk-belief, also mentioned, to the effect that under certain circumstances it might be possible to identify a murderer through observing the corpse; in this case at midnight on the eve of burial the corpse was able, briefly, to speak.  It was also commonly believed that the wounds on a corpse would begin to bleed afresh in the presence of the murderer, or that the eyes retained the last image seen before death, and could be examined for evidence.  Interesting stuff; unfortunately I must go back to work now, sigh...

Malcolm


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: 'Lyke Wake' beyond song & usual meaning
From: katlaughing
Date: 29 Jun 00 - 08:32 PM

Wonderful, Malcolm! Thank you! I am not sure it is fair to say E. Scarborough got it wrong as much as she took license with it and/or I got her reference wrong....if I could find the buik I'd know!**BG**

And, thanks to you, too, Alan, for telling us about the traditional lyke wakes.

kat


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: 'Lyke Wake' beyond song & usual meaning
From: Susan of DT
Date: 29 Jun 00 - 09:44 PM

Thanx, Malcolm. I probably read the same Scarborough book - I remember encountering it.

You might also look at Willie's Lyke-Wake in the DT, rather less chilling than the Dirge.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: 'Lyke Wake' beyond song & usual meaning
From: katlaughing
Date: 29 Jun 00 - 11:37 PM

SusanDT, I wish I could lay my hands on it...it had some Romany/Travelers in it and a young Walter Scott, as well as a nefarious doctor who wanted to resurrect his love using body parts from murdered Traveler women. Something about a coach on the front cover; it was a fun and quick, light read....I will find it and thanks for the other song.

kat


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: 'Lyke Wake' beyond song & usual meaning
From: A Wandering Minstrel
Date: 30 Jun 00 - 10:04 AM

As an doleful dirger of the Lyke Wake Club may I put in a word.

The Lyke Wake Walk is a trek of some 44 miles between Osmotherly and Ravenscar across the North Yorkshire moors in England. To qualify for the club you have to traverse the walk in under 24 hours. Each time you cross you move up the heirarchy of dirgers. (and get even more blisters!)

The supposed origin is that due to diocesan difficulties people who died in Osmotherly had to buried in the graveyard at Ravenscar and so the corpse had to be carried over the moors. Some of the references to Whuinny Moor and Brig o dread are to real places on the walk .

I can't say I've ever come across the reference you make to reanimating corpses but I do recall reading in a novel (I think by Paul Docherty) that a priest was able to see a reflection of the muderer in the corpses eyes by candlelight...oo-er!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: 'Lyke Wake' beyond song & usual meaning
From: bobby's girl
Date: 30 Jun 00 - 02:00 PM

I too am a dirger of the Lyke Wake Club, having walked (crawled & staggered came into it too as I remember!) the 44 miles in 17 hours and 20 minutes. The badge is a small black and silver coffin shape, but it also has a candle and a small circle which is the Ordinance Survey sign for a tumulus on it. The walk was brilliant, but I have to admit to being rather nervous in the wee small hours of the morning that we were going to bump into a bunch of ghosts carrying a coffin!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: 'Lyke Wake' beyond song & usual meaning
From: katlaughing
Date: 30 Jun 00 - 02:09 PM

This is just great! Thanks to everyone who's posted so far...here is a link to some info & a picture of The Lyke Wake Walk. I applaud any of you who have managed to traverse it...sounds like quite an experience! Those badges sound worth it, too!**BG**

kat


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: 'Lyke Wake' beyond song & usual meaning
From: Peg
Date: 30 Jun 00 - 02:12 PM

ooh, this sounds like an adventure to be had. I will be going to Yorkshire around this time next year and I might like to try this! (masochist that I am) Does anyone have information on this club, online perhaps, or by mail?

Thanks!

Peg, aspiring moor walker


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: 'Lyke Wake' beyond song & usual meaning
From: Hollowfox
Date: 05 Jul 00 - 12:31 PM

Scarbrough's novel is "Lady in the Loch", Ace books, 1998. My question: what is the "fleet" in the chorus ("fire and fleet...)? I tried tracking this down years ago, but didn't get a satisfying answer.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: 'Lyke Wake' beyond song & usual meaning
From: katlaughing
Date: 05 Jul 00 - 12:33 PM

Thanks! I have been unable to find my copy, must've lent it out.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: 'Lyke Wake' beyond song & usual meaning
From: GUEST,JH
Date: 15 Jun 04 - 08:35 AM

The Oxford Book of English Verse glosses "fleet" as "house room"
Can anybody tell me at what date the corpses had to be carried all that way? Thanks


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: 'Lyke Wake' beyond song & usual meaning
From: GUEST,CR
Date: 15 Nov 10 - 04:18 AM

Very interesting - anyone know anymore re. history please post - my family origins trace back to Corpse (family name) Corspe as Lyke and the name corpse seems to be centred around the north yorkshire wilds - I am aware of some of the family past - and am desperate to learn more.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: 'Lyke Wake' beyond song & usual meaning
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 15 Nov 10 - 05:21 AM

From: Malcolm Douglas - PM
Date: 29 Jun 00 - 08:16 PM
···...It was also commonly believed that the wounds on a corpse would begin to bleed afresh in the presence of the murderer...···


A propos, this superstition will be found still surviving in 'The Old Oak Tree', sung by Robin Morton on one of the Boys of the Lough albums IIRC; which is a very C19-melodrama-type tale about a wicked Squire McCallin [you can practically see his twirly mustachios!] who seduces a poor innocent maid & then kills her when she begins to talk of marriage. While he is out hunting

"By chance they lost the fox, Beneath the old oak tree

It was there the dogs began to yelp & snuff & paw the clay...

The gentlemen all gathered round and called for pick and spade
They dug the ground and there they found the missing murdered maid.

Her lilywhite breast whereon she lay was blackened by kicks & blows
And from fresh wounds the blood did flow and trickled thru her clothes

I did the deed, McCallin cried..."

~Michael~


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: 'Lyke Wake' beyond song & usual meaning
From: Georgiansilver
Date: 15 Nov 10 - 05:27 AM

Regarding the questioning re murder... I am not sure where that came and have never heard it mentioned before or read about it but .. 'Lyke (or Lych') is the old English word for Body... and 'wake' is the time spent with a dead body whilst it goes through the 'purging'.... ie.. the Victorians believed that a person who died had to go over a gorse moor... a dreadful bridge and a purgatory fire. They had to satisfy certain conditions before their spirit would go to heaven........ The three elements which were always present at a wake (which was usually held in the persons house in a back room) were 'Fire' 'Candlelight' and 'salt' which were supposed to keep evil spirits away from the body during its transition. Hope that helps.
PS in the UK there are still Lyke or Lych gates outside some of the older Churches.. it is a covered area at the entrance to the Church grounds under which the coffin, on a bier (handcart) would shelter from rain/snow etc before entering the Church at the appropriate time.
Best wishes, Mike.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: 'Lyke Wake' beyond song & usual meaning
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 15 Nov 10 - 05:32 AM

Georgian-Mike: earlier custom than 'Victorian', surely? Tho it might just about have survived into her reign?

~M~


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: 'Lyke Wake' beyond song & usual meaning
From: Noreen
Date: 15 Nov 10 - 05:34 AM

wikipedia: Lyke_Wake_Walk

www.lykewake.org


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: 'Lyke Wake' beyond song & usual meaning
From: Jack Campin
Date: 15 Nov 10 - 05:48 AM

I wonder how Morton feels about that recording now? He lives a few miles away from me, so the Jodi Jones murder (which echoes that scene in the way her body was discovered) was local to him too. (The Battlefield Band, which Morton manages, had a weekend event at Newbattle Abbey a couple of months ago - that's about 5 minutes walk from the murder site).

Look up "Jodi Jones" and "Luke Mitchell" on Wikipedia.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: 'Lyke Wake' beyond song & usual meaning
From: Georgiansilver
Date: 15 Nov 10 - 05:59 AM

MtheGM... thank you I did mean to put pre-Victorian as it goes back even further than Georgian... but in my humble rush to repeat history I learned at school .... well... guess I had better slow down eh?? Best wishes, Mike.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: 'Lyke Wake' beyond song & usual meaning
From: GUEST,Guest - Betsy
Date: 15 Nov 10 - 07:53 PM

The reference to Osmotherly I believe should be Mount Grace Priory which is nearby (a mile or so) away.
The most important Ecclesiastical "establishment" was Whitby Abbey ( see Synod of Whitby ) and therefore higher dignatries of the Carthusian Monks who had passed away, were transported on this route.
I hope this adds to the serious researchers studies.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: 'Lyke Wake' beyond song & usual meaning
From: Jack Campin
Date: 15 Nov 10 - 07:56 PM

Whitby Abbey was wrecked by Henry VIII in 1540.

There's no reason to think the song is that old, or that it has anything to do with the monks.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: 'Lyke Wake' beyond song & usual meaning
From: peregrina
Date: 16 Nov 10 - 01:50 PM

Lyke Wake
at the Yorkshire Garland site

words, score and notes on origins


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: 'Lyke Wake' beyond song & usual meaning
From: Tootler
Date: 24 Jan 12 - 05:55 PM

Reviving an old thread.

Whitby Abbey was wrecked by Henry VIII in 1540

There's no reason to think the song is that old, or that it has anything to do with the monks.


On the contrary, there is good reason to think that the song is quite possibly that old. See the information in the Yorkshire Garland Link above.

OTOH, It may not have much to do with monks as the old coffin routes were used by lay people to carry the coffins to consecrated ground for burial.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: 'Lyke Wake' beyond song & usual meaning
From: GUEST,Paul Burke
Date: 25 Jan 12 - 01:59 AM

I didn't see this a couple of years ago, or I'd have pointed out that there never was a Synod of Whitby! Whitby is a Scandinavian name, and they didn't arrive till long after. It's possible that there was something that could be charitably described as a synod at Streonshalgh, but even this is disputable, and it's by no means certain that this was where Whitby is now. King Oswiu was perfectly happy to accept Wilfrid's blandishments and take secular control of the church from Colman's all-too-independent Celts.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: 'Lyke Wake' beyond song & usual meaning
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 25 Jan 12 - 03:18 AM

You must complete the Lyke Wake walk in the stipulated 24 hours to be elegable to join the Lyke Wake Club, the badge of which is a silver candle in a black coffin, there is also a club tie, black with silver coffins and candles, well there was twenty odd years ago when I did it.

Dave H


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: 'Lyke Wake' beyond song & usual meaning
From: Tootler
Date: 25 Jan 12 - 05:08 AM

It seems the original Lyke Wake Club closed down in 2005.

It has been revived recently: website here


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 23 October 3:49 AM EDT

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.