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Broadside ballad entitled 'The Massacre of Glencoe'


This ballad begins: 'O! dark lowr'd the night on the wild distant heath; / And the wild raven croak'd out the bodings of death; / While the mood hid her beams in the clouds out o' woe, / Disdaining to gaze on the fields of Glencoe'. It was published by James Lindsay, 9 King Street, Glasgow, and includes a woodcut illustration.

This ballad follows Flora as she desperately tries to find her lover, Donald, following the the Massacre of Glencoe. In the ballad tradition, Flora, upon finding her lover's body, dies of a broken heart: 'She fell on his body, and then did expire'. In February 1692, members of the Macdonald clan were brutally murdered for refusing to pledge allegiance to King William III. Campbell soldiers, acting on behalf of the government, murdered the clan chief, Alexander MacDonald of Glenoce, and around thirty of his men. Hundreds of MacDonald men, women and children fled to the hills for safety.

Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse.

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Probable period of publication: 1852-1859   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.178.A.2(021)
Broadside ballad entitled 'The Massacre of Glencoe'
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