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Broadside ballad entitled 'Norval on the Grampian Hills'


This ballad begins: 'My name is Norval. On the Grampian hills / My father feeds his flocks; a frucal swain; / Whose constant cares were to increase his store, / And keep his only son, myself, at home.' The sheet was published by the Poet's Box, but it is not clear where.

John Home's (1722-1808) tragic play, 'Douglas', was based on this ballad. It tells the story of the infant son of Douglas, who is supposed dead by his parents. Old Norval, a shepherd, finds and brings up the boy, who saves his stepfather, Lord Randolph's, life and is then reunited with his mother. Randolph's heir, Glenalvon, however, is not happy about having his inheritance threatened and puts an end to Young Norval's life. In despair, Lady Randolph throws herself from a cliff.

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: 1880-1900   shelfmark: RB.m.143(023)
Broadside ballad entitled 'Norval on the Grampian Hills'
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