Edom o' Gordon

from Ballads Vol. I by Iona Fyfe

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(Child #178, GD V2:231, Roud #80)

I learnt this ballad from Fiona Hunter when studying at The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Malinky recorded Edom o Gordon on their 2005 album, The Unseen Hours. The ballad was printed by Robert and Andrew Foulis in Glasgow in 1755. Edom o’ Gordon is a historical ballad which narrates the burning of the Forbes’s Corgarff Castle by the Gordons in November 1571. It was not Adam (or Edom) of Gordon who burnt Towie’s House (Corgarff Castle), but Captain Thomas Ker, who was sent by Adam Gordon. Some variants of the ballad are titled Captain Carr, or Captain Adam Carre. Francis Barton Gummere published Captain Car/Edom o Gordon in his 1894 collection, titled Old English Ballads. He states:
“We now enter upon the particular or domestic cycle of border-ballads. Adam Gordon, a deputy of the Scottish queen Mary, in November 1571. Sent one Captain Ker to the house of one of the Forbeses, a family attached to the protestant or regent’s party. Captain Ker demanded surrender; the lady of the house [Margaret Campbell] refused’ and thereupon he burned down the house. As Chambers pointed out, Gordon, being held responsible for the act of his subordinate, was in some ballads treated as the principal actor himself.”


It fell aboot the Martinmas time
When the wind blew shrill and cauld
Cried Edom o' Gordon tae his men
"We maun draw tae some hauld"

"Whit hauld, whit hauld,"
cried his merry men
"Whit hauld sal we gang tae?"
"It's tae Towie's Hoose that we maun ride
And see yon fair lady"

She thocht it was her ain dear lord
That she saw ridin' hame
But was the traitor Edom o' Gordon
That hid nae sin nor shame

"Come doon, come doon,
Lady Campbell," he cried
"And gie yer hoose tae me
Or else this nicht I swear I'll burn
Ye an' yer bairnies three"

"I winna come doon," the lady cried
"For laird nor yet for loon
Nor yet for any rank robber
That comes frae Auchendoon"

The lady frae the battlements
Twa bullets she let flee
But it missed its mark wi' Gordon
For it scarcely grazed his knee

"Lady Campbell," the Gordon cried
"That shot will cost you dear"
An' he has ca'ed tae his ain Jock
Tae bring the faggots near

"I winna come doon, ye fause Gordon
I winna gie up tae ye
I winna forsake ma ain dear lord
That is sae far frae me"

Then up and spak her youngest son
Sat on the nooris's knee
"Oh open the door and let me oot
For this reek is choking me"

"I wid gie up ma gowd," she cried
"Ma siller and ma fee
For a blast o' the whistling wind
Tae blaw this reek frae me"

Then up an' spak her dother dear
She wis baith jimp and sma'
"Oh row me in a pair o' sheets
And throw me ower the wa'"

They rowed her in a pair o' sheets
Aye and threw her ower the wa'
But on the point o' the Gordon's sword
She got a deidly fa'

Then Gordon turned her ower and ower
And oh her face was white
Ah micht had spared that bonny face
Tae be some man's delight

Oh pity on yon fair castle
That was biggit wi' stane and lime
And wae for Lady Campbell herself
Burnt wi' her bairnies nine

Oh three o' them were mairried wives
And three o' them were bairns
And three o' them were leal maidens
That ne'er lay in young men's airms


from Ballads Vol. I, released July 22, 2020
Iona Fyfe: vocals


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Iona Fyfe Scotland, UK

Aberdeenshire folksinger, Iona Fyfe, has become one of Scotland’s finest young folk singers, rooted deeply in the singing traditions of the North East of Scotland.The youngest ever winner of Scots Singer of the Year at the MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards 2018, Iona has been described as “one of the best Scotland has to offer.” (Global-Music.de)

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