The Maid of the Cowdenknowes

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Title - The Maid of the Cowdenknowes
Alternate Title - The Broom o the Cowdenknowes
Contributors - Alan J. Bruford
Reporters - Peter R. Cooke

Summary - A fragment of the ballad version of 'The Broom o the Cowdenknowes'.

A maid from the Cowdenknowes is milking her father ewes on a wet winter's night. A troop of men comes riding by, who have overheard her singing. One man rides towards her and tells her to keep milking, "for fear that we do you wrong". [Part of the narrative is missing. For the missing verses the singer jokingly says "asterisk asterisk asterisk".] The girl takes her milk pails in her hand and runs home crying. All her father says is, "Ye've tarried lang frae hame." She tells her father there was a wily tod [fox] amongst the flock, and that rather than take the lamb that he did take, she'd rather he had taken three.

Alan Bruford learned the song from the late Ethel Findlater of Orkney, who had learned part of it from her husband. He had refused to teach it to her, and she only got some of the words from his sister after his death. As such the version is incomplete.

Track Duration (h:m:s) - 00:03:25
Date Recorded - 1979.02.15
Language - English, Scots
Genre - Song, Information
Collection - School of Scottish Studies

Track ID - 68614
Original Tape ID - SA1979.018
Original Track ID - SA1979.18.1
Audio Quality - Good
Audio Format - R2R

Classification - C217; GD838; R92;

Recording Location:
  County - Midlothian
  Parish - Edinburgh
  Village - Edinburgh

Item Notes - 5 verses, fragment only. This is a fragment of the ballad version, not the lyrical Jacobite version popularised by some 18th-century broadsheets and collections such as 'The Scots Musical Museum'. Also known as 'The Ewe Buchts', or variants thereof, in Aberdeenshire. The original recording, made by Alan Bruford from Mrs Ethel Findlater (tape SA1967.109), is transcribed in Tocher 5, where it is called 'The Maid o the Cowdean Knowes', reflecting the pronunciation also used here.
Recorded at a School of Scottish Studies cèilidh.
'Tocher' 5, (Spring 1972) pp. 164-165
Greig-Duncan vol. 4, pp. 268-275, no. 838 and extensive notes on the song's ancestry, pp. 554-555

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