Friends of Ben Rinnes

The Ballad of Balrinnes


The ballad which follows is taken from the publication of "Dalzell's Scotish Poems of the Sixteenth Century, vol. ii." There is a copy in the Pepys Collection, and another in the Advocates Library, printed at Edinburgh in 1681. The ballad is also printed, undoubtedly from a stall copy, in Scarce Ancient Ballads. The first four stanzas had previously been given in Jamieson's Popular Ballads. The older version of Dalzell is somewhat defective, and abounds in errors, which, as well as the corrupted spellings, are attributed to the ignorance of an English transcriber. Some lines were so corrupted that they have been ommitted.

The Ballad of Balrinnes

I rais and tuik the way,
Beleiuing weill it had not beine
Nought halff ane hour to day.
The lift was clad with cloudis gray,

And owermaskit was the moone,
Quhilk me deceaued whair I lay,
And maid me ryss ouer soone.

On Towie Mounth I mett a man,
Weill grathed in his gear
Quoth I, " Quhat neues ? " then he begane
To tell a fitt of warre.
Quoth he, " Of lait I heir,

Ane bloodie broust there was brouine,
Saying, " The ministers, I fear,
A bloody browst have brown,
For yesterday, withouthen mair,
On the hill at Stradown,

Zesterday, withouten moir, is
Upone ane hill at Strathdoune."
Then I, as any man wold be, us
Desyrous for to know
Mair of that taill he told to me,

The quhilk he said he sawe
Be then the day began to daw,
And back with him I red ; ao
Then he began the soothe to schaw,

And on this wayis he said.
Macallenmore cam from the wast
With many a bow and brand
To wast the Rinnes he thought best,

The Earll of Huntlies land.
He swore that none should him gainestand,
Except that he war fay
Bot all sould be at his comand

That dwelt be northen Tay. to
Then Huntlie, for to prevent that perrill,
Directit hastilie

" I saw three lords in battle fight
Eight furiously awhile,
Huntlie and Errol, as they hight,
Were both against Argyle.

Turn back with me and ride a mile,
And I shall make it kend,
How they began, the form and stile,
And of the battles end."

Unto the noble Erll of Erroll,
Besought him for supplie.
Quha said, " It is my deutie

For to giue Huntlie support
For if he lossis Strabolgie,

My Slaines will be ill hurt.
" Thairfoir I hald the subject vaine,
Wold rave us of our right
First sail one of us be slaine,
The uther tak the flight.

Suppose Argyll be muche of might,
Be force of Heigheland men
We's be a motte into his sight,

Or he pas hame againe.
" Be blaithe, my mirrie men, be blaithe,
Argyll sail have the worse,
Give he into this countrie kaithe,

I houpe in God[i]& cross."
Then leap this lord upon his horss,
Ane warrlyk troupe at Torray
To meit with Huntlie and his force,

They ryde to Elgine of Murray.
The samen night thir lordis meit
For utheris, who thought long,
(To tell zow all, I haue forgot)

The mirthe was them amonge.
Then playeris played, and songsters song,
To gled the mirrie host,
Quho feared not thair foes strong,
Nor zet Argylles boste.

They for two dayes wold not remove,
Bot blaithlie dranck the wyne,
Some to his lass, some to his loue,"
Some to his ladeis fyne.
And he that thought not for to blyne,

His mistres tockin tackes
They kist it first, and set it syne
Upone thair helmes and jackes. ao
They past thair tyme right wantonly,
Quhill word cam at ye last,
Argyll, with ane great armie,
Approached wondrous fast.
Then [out] of the toune thir barrones past,

And Huntlie to them said,
" Good gentillmen, we will us cast
To Strathbolgie but bed."
Quhen they unto Strathbolgie came,

To that castell but dreid,
Then to forsee how thingis might frame,

When they unto Strathboggy came,
To council soon they geed,
For to see how things might frame,

For they had meikle neid,
They woned them unto the dead,
As kirkmen could devys
Syne prayed to God that they might speed

Off thair guid enterpryse.
Then evirie man himself did arme,
To meit Mackallanmorne,
Unto Strathdoune quho did great harme

The Wednesday beforne.
As lyounes does poore lambes devoure,
With bloodie teethe and naillis,
They burnt the biggingis, tuik the store,

Syne slewe the peopillis sellis.
Besyd all this hie crueltie, ios
He said, ere he should ceass,

The standing stonnes of Strathbolgie
Schould be his palione place.
Bot Huntlie said, With Godis grace,
First we sail fight them ones
Perchance that they may tak the chess,
Ere they come to the stonnes."

Thir lordis keipt on at afternoone,
With all thair warrmen wight
Then sped up to Cabrach sone, us

Whair they bed all that night.
Upone the morne, quhen day was light,
They rose and maid them boune
Intill ane castell that stood on hight,
They call it Auchindoune.
Besyd that castell, on a croft,
They stended pallionis ther
Then spak a man that had bein oft

In jeopardie of warr
" My lord, zour foes they ar to fear, ias
Thoughe we war neuir so stoute
Thairfoir comand some man of warre

To watche the rest about."
Be this was done, some gentillmen
Of noble kin and blood, iso
To counsell with thir lordis begane,

Of matteris to concluide
For weill aneughe they understood
The matter was of weght,
They had so manie men of good iss

In battell for to fight.
The firstin man in counsall spak,
Good Errol it was he
Who say is, " I will the vaneguard tack,
And leiding upone me.

My Lord Huntlie, come succour me,
When ze sie me opprest
For fra the feild I will not flic
So long as I may last."

Thair at some Gordones waxed wraithe, i
And said he did them wrong
To lat this lord then they warre leath

First to [the] battell gange.
The meiting that was them amonge,
Was no man that it hard, iso
Bot Huntlie, with ane troupe full stronge,
Bed into the reir guarde.

Thir wer the number of thair force
Thir lordis to battell led
Ane thousand gentillmen on horss,
And some fotemen they had
Thrie hundreth that schot arrowes bred,

Four scoir that hagbutis bore
Thir war the number that they had
Of footmen with them suire. ieo

This worthy chevalrie
All merchand to the field
Argyll, with ane great armie,
Upone ane hill had tane beild,

Aboyding them [with] speare and scheild,
With bullettis, dartis, and bowes
The men could weill thair wapones weild

To meit them was no mowes.
When they so near uther war come,
That ilk man saw his foe, iro
" Goe to, and assay the gaime," said some
Bot Capitane Ker said, " No

Thus with their noble cavalry
They inarched to the field.
speares and scheildis.
weild thair wapones weill.

First lat the gunes befoir us goe,
That they may break the order
Quoth both the lordis, " Lat it be so,
Or euer we goe forder."

Then Androw Gray, upone ane horss,
Betuixt the battillis red
Makand the signe of holy cross,
In manus tuas he said. iao

He lighted thair [the] gunes to led,
Quhill they cam to the rest
Then Capitane Ker unto him sped,

And bad him shuit in haist.
" I will not [shuit]," quothe Androw Gray, iss
" Quhill they cum over zonder hill
We have an ower guid caus this dey,

Through misgydins to spill.
Goe back, and bid our men byd still,
Quhill they cum to the plaine
Then sail my shuitting doe them ill,

I will not shuit in vaine."
" Shuit up, shuit up," quothe Capitane Ker,
" Shuit up, to our comfort ! "
The firsten shot [it] was to neir,

It lighted all to schort.
The nixtin shot thair foes hurt,
It lighted wounderous weill
Quoth Androw Gray, " I sie ane sport,

Quhen they began to reill.
mannis. then ower.

" Goe toe, good mattes, and say the game,
Zonder folkis ar in a fray
Lat sie how we can well with them,
Into thair disaray.
Goe, goe, it is not tyme to stay,

All for my bennisoune
Saue non this day ze may gar dye,
Quhill ze the feild haue wonne."
Then Errol haisted to the hight,

Whair he did battell byd
With him went Auchindoune and Gight,
And Bonnitoune by his syd
Whair manie gentillman did with him byd,
Whos prais sould not be smored
Bot Capitane Ker, that was thair gyde,

Red ay befoir my lord.
They war not manie men of werre,
Bot they war wonder trewe
With hagbutis, pistolet, bowe, and speare,
They did thair foes persewe,

Quhair bullettis, dartis, and arrowes flew,
Als thick as haill or raine,
Then awful Erroll he can say
" Good fellows, follow me
I hope it shall be ours this day,

Or else therefore to die.
Tho they in number many be,
Set on, withoutten words
Let ilk brave fellow brake his tree,
And then pursue with swords."
many were. within went.

Quhilk manie hurt, and some they slew,
Of horss and gentillmen.
Huntlie maid haist to succour him,
And charged furiouslie,
Quhair manie menis sight grew dim,

The shottis so thick did flie
Quhilk gart right manie doghtie die,
Of some on euerie syd
Argyll with his tald hoste did flie,

Bot Macklenne did abyd.
Macklene had one ane habershoune,
Ilk lord had one ane jack
Togidder feirc[e]lie are they rune,

With manie a gunes crack.
The splenderis of thair spearis they break,
Flewe up into the air,
Quhilk boore doune maney on thair back,

Againe ros neuer mair.
" Alace, I sie ane sore sight,"
Said the Laird of Macklenne
" Our feible folkis is tenne the flight,

Then some men said, " We will be sure
And take Maclean by course
Go to, for we are men anew
To bear him down by force."
But noble Errol had remorse,

And said, " It is not best,
For tho Argyle has got the worst, “
Let him gang with the rest.

And left me myne allaine.
Now must I file, or els be slaine,
Since they will not returne ; "
With that he ran ouer ane dyne,

Endlongis ane lytill burne.
Then after great Argylles hoste
Some horssmen tuik the chess,
Quha turned their backes for all thair bost,

Contrair the fooles say[s].
They cried " oh," with manie " alace,"
Bot neuir for mercie sought
Thairfoir the Gordones gaue no grace,

Becaus they craved it nought.
Then some guidman perseiued sharpe,
With Erroll and Huntlie,
And thai with [a] capitane did carpe,

Quhais name was Ogilvie.
He sayis, " Gentillmen, lat see
Who maniest slaine slaydis
Save non this day ze may gar die,
For pleadis, nor ransome paynes."

" What greater honour could ye wish
In deeds of chivalry,
Or brave victory than this,
Where one has chac'd thrice three?
Therefore, good fellows, let him be

He'll die before he yield
For he with his small company
Bade langest in the field."
perceiued. line is corrupted.
Lyk hartes, up howes and hillis thei ranne,
Quhair horsmen might not winn
" Reteir againe," quoth Huntlie then,
" Quhair we did first begin.

Heir lyes manie carved skinnes,
With manie ane bloodie beard,
For anie helpe, with litell dinne,

Sail rotte aboue the eard."
When they cam to the hill againe,
The sett doune one thair knees,
Syne thanked God that they had slaine

Soe manie enimies. aoo
They ros befor Argylles eyis,
Maid Capitane Ker ane knight
Syne bed among the dead bodies,
Whill they war out of sight.

This deid so doughtilie was done,
As I hard trewe men tell,
Upone ane Thursday afternoone,
St. Franecis ewill befell.

Now I have you already tauld,
Huntly and Errol's men
Could scarce be thirteen hundred called,

The truth if ye would ken.
And yet Argyle his thousands ten
Were they that took the race,
And tho that they were nine to ane,

They caused [them] take the chace.
He has should be ere, or vigil.

© Friends of Ben Rinnes 2006 - 2009 Registered Charity No: SC 034370

Template design by Arcsin