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ADD: Battle of Harlaw (Child #163)

DigiTrad:
BATTLE OF HARLAW
THE BATTLE OF HARLAW (2)


Related threads:
Harlaw 600 years (9)
Review: Harlaw Scotland 1411, Bonnie Rideout (1)
Lyr Req: The Battle of Harlow / ...Harlaw (#163) (12)
Scots Wha Ken: Ptlarchie? Lammrachie? (5)


Calach 16 Oct 00 - 12:00 PM
Wolfgang 17 Oct 00 - 04:21 AM
Willie-O 17 Oct 00 - 05:12 AM
Roberto 16 Oct 05 - 01:18 PM
Jim McLean 16 Oct 05 - 04:32 PM
Malcolm Douglas 16 Oct 05 - 05:44 PM
Susanne (skw) 17 Oct 05 - 04:57 PM
Malcolm Douglas 17 Oct 05 - 06:10 PM
GUEST,MODERNSAVAGE69@YAHOO.COM 20 Jun 06 - 03:06 AM
John MacKenzie 20 Jun 06 - 04:57 AM
michaelr 12 Feb 09 - 06:52 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: BATTLE OF HARLAW
From: Calach
Date: 16 Oct 00 - 12:00 PM

Just wrote this out for my own songbook, so I thought I'd let anyone else have a copy that's interested. Most of the lyrics are taken from an old reference book in Kirkcaldy Library, (Fife, Scotland)

The Battle Of Harlaw

As I came in by the Geerie lands, and in by Netherhaw
'Twas there I met twa hielandmen, a marchin tae Harlaw.
And as I cam on farther still, till I came tae Balquain
And there I met Sir James the Rose, and hieland Geordie Grahame.

Wie a didum a do an a dee and a dum didum a do dum day

Sae come ye frae the hielands man? And come ye o'er the wie?
Saw ye MacDonald and his men as they came into Skye?
Oh wis ye very near tae them? Did ye their numbers see?
And could ye tell me hieland man what micht their numbers be?

Oh yes I cam frae the hielands man, and I cam a' the wye
And I did see MacDonald's men as they cam in frae Skye.
And I was very near tae them and I their numbers saw
There was fifty thousand hielandmen, a marchin' tae Harlaw

So they rode on and further on, till they came apon Harlaw
They both fell fast on every side, such fun ye never saw.
The hielandmen they were behind, the redcoats up before
And the hielandmen beat redcoats back, twa acres breadth and more

Brave Forbes tae his brother said. "Ah brother dinnae ye see?
They break our men on ilka side and we'll be forced to flee."
"Oh no, oh no my brother dear, this thing it will na be
You'll take your good sword in your hand and take the field wie me."

Brave Forbes, he being young and stout, made the hielandmen tae yield
As a sythe does tae the green, green grass that grows apon the field.
Now back tae back these twa fierce Lords, they went amang the throng
They hewed doon a' the hielandmen, wi heavy swords and long.

MacDonald was tae young and stoot, had on his coat o' mail
And he went swiftly through the ranks, tae fecht wi' him himsel'
The first blow that MacDonald struck, their swords rang in a knell.
The second blow Lord Forbes struck, the great MacDonald fell.

Oh there was sic a lammrachie, the like you never saw
As there amangst the hieland men, when they saw MacDonald fa'.
And when they saw their chief was deid, wi him they rade awa'
And buried him at Leggat's den, a lang mile frae Harlaw.

The fecht began on Monday, wi' the risin' o' the sun
And on Setterday at twelve o'clock, ye scarce wid kent whae'd won
Oh there wis sic a burial, the like you'd never saw
As there wis apon the Sabbath day, the leas a'neath Harlaw.

Oh sixty thousand redcoat men, went hame but thirty two
And fifty thousand hielandmen, went hame but forty three
And if anyone should speir at ye o' them that's gone awa'
Just tell them plain and unco plain; they're sleeping at Harlaw


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Harlaw; Battle of
From: Wolfgang
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 04:21 AM

There are two other versions of this song in the DT:
Battle of Harlaw
Battle of Harlaw (2)

I post this as a reference and not for to say we don't need a third version. On the contrary, the version above is so different from the other two that I am glad to see it. Thanks for posting it, calach.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Harlaw; Battle of
From: Willie-O
Date: 17 Oct 00 - 05:12 AM

Thats interesting. The battle of Harlaw was fought near Aberdeen in 1411. Child says:

Donald of the Isles, to maintain his claim to the Earldom of Ross, invaded the country south of the mountains with ten thousand islanders and men of Ross in the hope of sacking Aberdeen, and reducing to his power the country as far as the Tay. He was met at Harlaw, eighteen miles nw of Aberdeen, by Alexander Stewart, earl of Mar, and Alexander Ogilvy, sherriff of Angus, with the forces of Mar, Garioch, Angus and The Mearns, and his further progress was stayed. The Celts lost more than nine hundred, the Lowlanders five hundred, including nearly all the gentry of Buchan. This defeat was in the interest of civilization against savagery, and was felt says Burton "as a more memorable deliverance even than Bannockburn". End quote.

Given the date and the participants, references to redcoats would seem highly anachronistic, or am I wrong? Although Child does quote a variant mentioning red-coats--but both of his variants were probably Walter Scott-era compositions.

Either way, the tradition of exaggerated body counts has a precedent here...

W-O


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Subject: Lyr Add: BATTLE OF HARLAW (from Jeannie Robertson)
From: Roberto
Date: 16 Oct 05 - 01:18 PM

I couldn't fancy I would have had problems with this one, since there is a booklet that goes with the cd. But the transciption in the booklet is full of mistakes. I've tried to correct some, and maybe I've added a few more. Please, help. Thank you. R

The Battle of Harlaw
Jeannie Robertson, The Queen Among The Heather, The Alan Lomax Collection ? Portraits, Rounder 11661-1720-2, 1998, ballad recorded 1953

As I came by the Geerich lan'
And doon by Netherth ha' (JR doesn't sing Nether Ha')
There were ffty-thoosand hielan'men
A-marchin' tae Harlaw

Singing diddi-i-o, sing fa-la-do, sing diddi-e-i-o-i-aye

It's did ye come fae the hielands, man
And did ye come a' the wye?
And did ye see MacDonaId an' his men
As they marched fae Skye?

Singing diddi-i-o, sing fa-la-do, sing diddi-e-i-o-i-aye?

It's I came fae the hielands, man
An' I came a' the wye
An' I saw MacDonaId an' his men
As they marched fae Skye

Singing diddi-i-o, sing fa-la-do, sing diddi-e-i-o-i-aye

It's wis you near and near enough
Did ye their number see?
Come tell tae me, John Hielandman
What might their number be?

Singing diddi-i-o, sing fa-la-do, sing diddi-e-i-o-i-aye

For I was near and near enough
And I their number saw
There were fifty thoosand hielan'men
A-marching tae Harlaw

Singing diddi-i-o, sing fa-la-do, sing diddi-e-i-o-i-aye

For they went on and further on
And doon and by Bulquhain
It's there they met Sir James O'Ross (?)
(?) Who answered (???) John the Grame

Singing diddi-i-o, sing fa-la-do, sing diddi-e-i-o-i-aye

If that be stout (?) ? said Sir James O'Ross
We'll no' come muckle speed
We will call upon wor merry men
And we'll turn our horses' heads

Singing diddi-i-o, sing fa-la-do, sing diddi-e-i-o-i-aye

O nay, O nay - said Sir John the Grame
Sich things will (?) maune dee
For the gallant Grames were never beaten (?)
(?) We'll try what they can dee

Singing diddi-i-o, sing fa-la-do, sing diddi-e-i-o-i-aye

For they went on and further on
And doon and by Harlaw
They fell full close on ilky side
Such strikes you never saw

Singing diddi-i-o, sing fa-la-do, sing diddi-e-i-o-i-aye

They fell full close on ilky side
Such strikes you never saw
For ilky sword gied clash for clash
At the battle o' Harlaw

Singing diddi-i-o, sing fa-la-do, sing diddi-e-i-o-i-aye

The hieland men with their long swords
They (?) lating (???) us full sair
They drove back wor merry men
Three acres breadth and mair

Singing diddi-i-o, sing fa-la-do, sing diddi-e-i-o-i-aye

Lord Forbes to his brother did say:
O brother dinna you see
They've beat us back on every side
And we'll be forced to flee

Singing diddi-i-o, sing fa-la-do, sing diddi-e-i-o-i-aye

O nay, O nay, my brother dear
O nay, that mauna be
For you'll tak' your guid sword in your hand
And you'll gang in wi' me

Singing diddi-i-o, sing fa-la-do, sing diddi-e-i-o-i-aye

For the two brothers brave
Gaed in amongst the thrang
They swobbed doon the hieland men
With swords both sharp and lang

Singing diddi-i-o, sing fa-la-do, sing diddi-e-i-o-i-aye

The first strike Lord Forbes gied
The brave MacDonald reeled
The second strike Lord Forbes gied
The brave MacDonald fell

Singing diddi-i-o, sing fa-la-do, sing diddi-e-i-o-i-aye

What a cry amang the hielan'men
When they seed (?) their leader fall
They lifted him and buried him
A lang mile fae Harlaw

Singing diddi-i-o, sing fa-la-do, sing diddi-e-i-o-i-aye


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: jeannie robertson's battle of harlaw #16
From: Jim McLean
Date: 16 Oct 05 - 04:32 PM

Roberto,
Have a look at version 1 (Battle of Harlaw) in the digitrad and you'll find some answers.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: jeannie robertson's battle of harlaw #16
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 16 Oct 05 - 05:44 PM

Neither of the DT files has proper attribution, so are of limited value, though the first, as Jim says, does offer clues to some of the things you're having difficulty with.

The Rounder transcriptions have a poor reputation, sometimes seeming to have been based on completely different recordings. The transcription in James Porter and Herschel Gower's Jeannie Robertson: Emergent Singer, Transformative Voice (Edinburgh: Tuckwell Press and Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1995) is pretty much as Jeannie sang it in 1953.

The transcription with Lismor's 1984 Up the Dee and doon the Don is also pretty good (they use "frae" instead of "fae" throughout; a judgement-call, really). I should think it's been reissued on cd since then.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: jeannie robertson's battle of harlaw
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 17 Oct 05 - 04:57 PM

I've had a listen to the version in 'Up the Dee and Doon the Don' using Roberto's transcription. This is the result:

V. 1: I definitely hear 'Nether Ha'', with nothing in between.
(Admittedly, I also hear 'thirty thoosan'', but as 'fifty thoosan'' is mentioned further down that seems to be due to the old recording which makes some things difficult to understand.)

V. 3:
For I cam frae the hielands, man

V. 6:
It's there they met Sir James the Rose
Wi' him Sir John the Graeme (Graham?)

V. 7:
If that be true(?), said Sir James the Rose
(Very difficult to understand - like Roberto, I hear an initial 's', but the word is too long for 'so'. 'True' is more reasoned than heard.)

V. 8:
O nay, O nay, said Sir John the Graeme
Sic things we'll maunna dae
For the gallant Graemes were never beaten
We'll try what they can dae

V. 11:
They laid in us fu' sair

V. 16:
What a cry amangst the hielan'men
When they see'd their leader fa'

In that recording Jeannie sings 'cam' and 'frae' throughout. Also, it's 'maunna' - must not, and 'dae' - do ('dee' would be die).

Also, some info on the historical accuracy and age of the ballad by Hamish Henderson (who joins in singing the chorus in the recording I have):

[1959:] It has been contended by some critics [...] that the folk ballad of Harlaw is comparatively recent in origin. There are powerful arguments against this contention. It's true, certainly, that the ballad re-writes (and falsifies) history in favour of the North-east Lowlanders. But a comparative study of the balladry of war shows that it is exactly this violent and often fact-denying partisanship which is characteristic of it. The song about the battle fought on the Haughs of Cromdale was similarly re-written to make it a Jacobite victory. (Hamish Henderson, letter to Weekly Scotsman, May 14)

[1964:] In 1411, the burghers and feudal barons of the North-East fought the Highland army of Donald, Lord of the Isles, to a standstill - at Harlaw, near Inverurie, less than twenty miles from [Aberdeen]. However, at the end of the day the flower of Lowland chivalry lay dead on the field [...]
Both sides eventually claimed that they had won the day, but the Irish Annals of Loch Ce are undoubtedly right in logging the battle as a victory of the Gael over the Gall [...] The Lord of the Isles [who actually survived the battle] did not, however, follow up his victory, and Aberdeen was spared the sacking it was to receive two and a half centuries later at the hands of Montrose's Irish and Hielandmen.
In 1549, the anonymous author of 'The Complaint of Scotland' listed The Battle of Hayrlau among the songs and dances known to the peasantry of Scotland. Has this ballad survived? - or is The Battle of Harlaw, first printed by Alexander Laing in 'The Thistle of Scotland' in 1823, an eighteenth-century production? I know Alec Keith inclines to think so; he has suggested that the 'Hellenic enthusiasm' of one Robert Forbes, Gent (who wrote 'Ajax's Speech to the Grecian Knabbs', published in 1742), may have been responsible for the Homeric proportions of the battle-scene. Furthermore, the Forbeses, who play such a notable part in the folk-ballad, were not, it seems, at Harlaw at all.
However that may be - and the weight of critical opinion seems to be against the antiquity of Harlaw as we now hear it sung - there can be no doubt that when Jeannie [Robertson] sings it, it fully deserves to be styled a traditional ballad, and questions of historical accuracy are in abeyance, at any rate for the moment.
I should maybe add that my own opinion about Harlaw - my present opinion, anyway - is that there is a very old core of ballad in the stanzas which describe the onset of the battle ('ilka sword gaed clash for clash'), but that a lot of re-writing and re-shaping may well have taken place in the eighteenth century. Also, I should think that the tune, which is a wonderful pentatonic ballad-tune, could well be exceedingly old; my guess would be that it has carried this ballad, in one shape or another, for three or four centuries - and even if that is not the case, you'll agree that 1800 to the mid-twentieth century is quite a respectable length of time for a ballad to become 'traditional'. (Henderson, Alias MacAlias 39f)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: jeannie robertson's battle of harlaw #16
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 17 Oct 05 - 06:10 PM

For more on the historical basis of the ballad, and some interesting comments on how it may actually be more accurate in some respects than the official historical record, see David Buchan, 'History and Harlaw', in E B Lyle (ed), Ballad Studies, 1976, 29-40.

Buchan also speculates that Laing found (and published, but only in abbreviated form) a genuine survival of the original ballad and (as was his habit, though we don't know that it happened in this case) printed it on songsheets which then circulated through the region, giving rise to all subsequently recovered examples. Interesting, but circumstantial; and of course we have no way of telling whether or not there is any link with the song mentioned, but not quoted, in the 16th century. There are other possibilities: a poem on the subject appeared in Ramsay's The Evergreen in 1724, for instance, and Laing believed it to be considerably older.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Battle of Harlaw (#16, Jeannie Robertson)
From: GUEST,MODERNSAVAGE69@YAHOO.COM
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 03:06 AM

My good friend has recently discovered his Scottish roots. As a new member of Clan Forbes. He discovered this song. I an trying to find the sheet music for it. I need it written for the bagpipe. So I can play it for him.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Battle of Harlaw (#16, Jeannie Robert
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 04:57 AM

Child #163


Slightly different, from a German site


C/W Midi


The transcription of this song like many others seems to be patchy at best. For MacDonnell, and MacDonal, I read MacDonald. For Skee read Skye.

Sir James O' Rose can only be Ross, and Graem or Graeme is usually rendered as Graham.


Giok


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Subject: Lyr Add: BATTLE OF HARLAW (from Old Blind Dogs)
From: michaelr
Date: 12 Feb 09 - 06:52 PM

Here's the Old Blind Dogs' version, of interest because of the different lyrics.

The Battle of Harlaw (trad. S)

I cam' in by Dunideer and doon by Nether Ha'
There were fifty thousand' heilan' men a-marchin' tae Harlaw

Chorus: Wi' a diddy aye o' an' a fal an' doe
and a diddy aye o' aye ay

As I gaed on an' farther on and doon an' by Balquhain
Oh it's there I saw Sir James the Rose and wi' him John the Graeme
(Chorus)

"It's cam' ye fae the Heilan's man, cam' ye a' the wey?
Saw ye MacDonald and his men as they cam' in frae Skye?"
(Chorus)

"It's I was near and near eneuch that I their numbers saw
There was fifty thoosan' heilan' men a-marchin' tae Harlaw"
(Chorus)

Gin that be true," says James the Rose, "We'll no cam' muckle speed
We'll cry upon wir merry men and turn wir horse's heid"
(Chorus)

"Oh na, o' na," says John the Graeme, "This thing will nivver be"
The gallant Graemes wis nivver beat, we'll try fit we can dae
(Chorus)

Well, as I gaed on an' further on an' doon an' by Harlaw
There fell fu' close on ilka side sic straiks ye nivver saw
(Chorus)

There fell fu' close on ilka side sic straiks ye nivver saw
An' ilka sword gaed clash for clash at the Battle of Harlaw
(Chorus)

The Heilan' men wi' their lang swords, they laid on us fu' sair
And they drave back wir merry men three acres breadth and mair
(Chorus)

Forbes tae his brither did say, "Noo brither, can't ye see
They've beaten us back on ilka side and we'll be forced tae flee
(Chorus)

Oh na, na, my brither bold, this thing will nivver be
Ye'll tak yer guid sword in yer haun', ye'll gang in wi' me
(Chorus)

Well, it's back tae back the brithers bold gaed in amangst the thrang
And they drave back the heilan' men wi' swords baith sharp and lang
(Chorus)
An' the firstan stroke that Forbes struck, he gart MacDonald reel
An' the neistan straik that Forbes struck, the brave MacDonald fell
(Chorus)

An siccan a ptlairchie o' the likes ye nivver saw
As wis amangst the Heilan' men fan they saw MacDonald fa'
(Chorus)

Some rade, some ran and some did gang, they were o' sma' record
For Forbes and his merry men, they slew them on the road
(Chorus)

O' fifty thoosan' Heilan' men, but fifty-three gaed hame
And oot o' a' the Lawlan' men, fifty marched wi' Graeme
(Chorus)
Gin onybody spier at ye for them that marched awa'
Ye can tell them plain and very plain they're sleepin' at Harlaw

Wi' a diddy aye o' an' a fal an' doe
and a diddy aye o' aye ay


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