The Word on the Street
home | background | illustrations | distribution | highlights | search & browse | resources | contact us

Broadside ballad entitled 'Dark Bonnymuir'


Verse 1 begins: 'As evening dashed on the western shore, / Caledonia stood perched on the waves of the Clyde; / Her arms wide extended she raised with devotion, / "My poor bleeding country" she vehemently cried'.

The 'Battle of Bonnymuir' occurred on 5th April 1820 near Bonnybridge, and was only one chapter in the 'Radical War'. At Bonnymuir, 19 Radicals were arrested and transported for conspiracy, treason and armed insurrection. The Radicals were campaigning for, amongst other economic and social changes, a wider enfranchisement of the population - this was eventually procured under the 1832 Reform Act. Another ballad entitled 'Bonnymuir' was written by a participant in the 1820 rising, Allan Barbour Murchie, who was imprisoned at Stirling Castle, along with 19 others. He was eventually transported and lived the rest of his life in Australia.

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.

previous pageprevious          
Probable date published: 1820   shelfmark: APS.4.86.4
Broadside ballad entitled 'Dark Bonnymuir'
View larger image

NLS home page   |   Digital gallery   |   Credits

National Library of Scotland © 2004

National Library of Scotland