A girl rescues Travellers from cannibals.

Date 04 March 1983
Track ID 69991
Part 1

Track Information

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Original Tape ID



A girl rescues Travellers from cannibals.

Stanley Robertson introduces a story he heard as a child, which he calls 'Jack and the Flesh Eaters'. When Travellers told the story they could see themselves in the part of Jack. Long ago in Scotland, at a time when Travellers suffered persecution, there were three Traveller brothers: Wullie, a piper, Bobby, a fiddler, and the youngest, Jack, who repaired jewellery, guns and so on. In a strange town, a nobleman's servant offered them work. They hesitated, as the nobles had the power to hang Travellers. However, they went to the castle, where dancing and singing was going on. They were well treated and given work, then shown to their room, where a servant girl brought them porter to drink.

In the morning, Wullie had gone, but they were told that he had gone home with a pocketful of gold. Then Bobby disappeared in the same way. The servant girl warned Jack not to drink the porter and offered to help him escape. She took him out through a dungeon, where he could hardly stand the saur [smell]. There were bones underfoot. The girl explained that the people there were flesh eaters and preyed particularly on Travellers. Jack had to run for his life, but wouldn't leave the servant girl, even though he had to carry her across a river. They got married.

Barbara McDermitt comments on the parallel with burker stories. Stanley thinks the basic story is probably based on some of the terrible things that happened in the past. His grandfather told him that once a flesh eater had eaten human flesh he wouldn't eat anything else.

Item Notes

Burkers went beyond bodysnatching and murdered in order to obtain bodies to sell to anatomists. The word 'burker' comes from the name of William Burke, hanged for this crime in 1829.

Recording Location

County - Aberdeenshire

Parish - Aberdeen

Village/Place - Aberdeen


English, Scots



Source Type

Reel to reel

Audio Quality