In the days before the machine reaper, the harvest was brought in on many of the larger farms by hired harvest gangs. The Lothian Hairst celebrates the scything squads of the early 1800s who travelled south by boat from Aberdeen to Leith to cut the corn on the large farms of the Lothians before following the ripening crop north to bring in the Aberdeenshire harvest a month or so later. In the previous song, Rhynie, the harvest is cut with the shearing hook or sickle but, by the early 1800s, the scythe in its Scottish form was in widespread use.
Jock: It is scything 'I follaed at the point' as it says in the song at the point of the scythe, cutting about six feet wide, whereas the wee shearin heuk, it jist took a handfu at a time.
Jock has always remembered parts of the Lothian Hairst and, when planning the record, he got the full text of the song from his cousin, long retired Dr. Duncan Murray. who used to sing the song as a loon and who took part in John Strachan's broadcasts from Crichie during and before the war.
Brian McNeill - concertina, fiddle; Gordon Duncan - flute
|1: On August twelfth fae Aiberdeen we sailed upon the Prince,
And landed safe on Clifford's Field's the harvest to commence;
For six long weeks the country roun, fae toun tae toun we went,
And we took richt weel wi the Lothian fare and felt richt weel content.
2: Oor gaffer Willie Mathieson, fae sweet Deeside he came,
Oor foreman cam fae that same airt and Logan was his name;
For brisk young lads we haed twa score and oor lassies were but few,
But Logan treated us sae weel and he kept a decent crew.
3: Noo I follaed Logan on the point, sae weel's he laid it doun,
Sae nimbly as he led a squad ower mony's a thristly toun;
My mate and I we got nae chance for Logan's watchful eye,
And wi the lads we could get nae sport for Logan was sae fly.
4: He cleared the bothy every nicht afore we went to sleep,
Neither did he leave bit one, so strick his rules did keep;
An fen we came tae Aiberdeen, he'll weel deserve a spree,
For the herding o us aa sae weel, for the Lothian tumes were free. [i.e. lads
5: Oh noo the corn is aa cut doun and we are on the pier,
Fareweel ye Lothian feather beds and aa the Lothian cheer;
Fareweel McKenzie, Reid and Ross and aa the jovial crew,
And Logan, Chapman, Jock and Pratt and the Royal Stewarts too.
c p 1996 Springthyme Records : www.springthyme.co.uk