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Broadside ballad entitled 'The Downfall of the Dyke'


This ballad begins: 'You've heard tell of this muckle dyke, / Built on the banks of Clyde, man, / That has near stood the 6th year's flood, / And Winter's storm beside, man'. It was published by William Carse of Glasgow and probably sold for one penny.

This light-hearted ballad details a dispute that raged on regarding a dyke that was built along the edge of the Clyde. It appears that the wall blocked a pathway favoured by a large number of people in the Glasgow area and, as such, its construction was vehemently protested. The dyke being referred to is almost certainly 'Harvie's Dyke', the protests against which led to a court case and a final decision in favour of the protestors being passed in the House of Lords. The National Library of Scotland's collection includes several broadsides regarding 'Harvie's Dyke'.

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 date published: 1828   shelfmark: APS.4.98.6(1)
Broadside ballad entitled 'The Downfall of the Dyke'
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