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NSC 'Historical' Ballads (146* d) RE: 'Historical' Ballads 14 Oct 99


hello Reiver 2.

In the late sixties I used to frequent a folk club in Ponteland, Northumberland, where the resident group was called "The Reivers"

They used to sing a shortened version of the Battle of Otterburn which certainly had its origins in fact. Douglas of Scotland and Percy of Newcastle both decided to hunt deer in the forestland surrounding Otterburn, on the same day.

A huge battle ensued where some hundreds of men including both Douglas and Percy were slain. A full version of the song can be found in The Northumberland Minstrilsy, a book first published in the 19th century. The song is a version of the Chevy Chase.

Historical ballads are wonderful though not always entirely accurate. They are better than history books in that they give an indication of how people were thinking. Sometimes how the ordinary person viewed an event rather than a government view. Some of the Napoleonic songs in Ireland are a fine example.

George Henderson


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