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Cairn o' Mount

[ Roud 3794 ; G/D 5:1042 ; Ballad Index FVS106 ; Mudcat 39381 ; words Alexander Balfour, music Tony Cuffe]

Tony Cuffe's recorded Cairn o' Mount, at Gaelic Roots, Boston College, Boston, Mass, in 1997, This was released in 2003 on his posthumous Greentrax album Sae Will We Yet. The liner notes commented:

A song developed by Tony from the poem first published by Alexander Balfour (1767-1829) of Monikie, Perthshire in 1820. Brig o’ Dye, Cairn o’ Mount, Clochnaben (now Clachnaben) and the River Dee are all in rural Aberdeenshire.

Bob Blair sang Cairn o' Mount in 2000 on his Tradition Bearers album of Scots songs and ballads, Reachin' for the High, High Lands. Adam McNaughtan commented in the liner notes:

A traditional disguised lover's test song developed from a poem published by Alexander Balfour in 1820. The poem falls naturally into eight-line stanzas but both tunes collected in the North-East are single part airs. So Bob has preferred the recent tune by the Scottish singer and guitarist, Tony Cuffe.

Jim Reid sang Cairn o' Mount in 2005 on his Greentrax album Yont the Tay.

Old Blind Dogs sang Cairn o' Mount on their 2007 album Four on the Floor. They noted:

A highland shepherd disguises himself as a nobleman to test the affections of his beloved. She remains true to him, and they all live happily ever after.

Iona Fyfe sang Cairn o' Mount in 2016 on her Iona Fyfe Band EP East.

A song which has historically been very popular in rural regions of Aberdeen, Forfarshire and Kincardine. Features in Robert Ford's Vagabond Songs and Ballads of Scotland. The text was published in a book called Contemplation and Other Poems in 1820 by Alexander Balfour (1767-1829). The book was dedicated to the Marchioness of Huntly. In this book, Cairn o' Mount was under the title of Donald, a Ballad.

As sung by a host of Tradition Bearers such as Jim Reid and Scott Gardiner.


Tony Cuffe sings Cairn o' Mount

I left the banks o winding Dee and haughs o bonny green,
Where birds sang blithe on ilka tree and flooers bloomed fair atween;
As I gaed in by Brig o’ Dye just as the sun gaed doun,
A lassie sang sae merrily amang the heather broun.

Chorus (after each verse):
Though Cairn o’ Mount is bleak and bare and cold is Clochnaben,
I'd rather meet my Donald there than be fair Scotland’s queen.

I jumpit off my dapple grey, I walked doun by her side.
Said, “Lassie I ha lost my way amang yer muirs sae wide;
Yet leeze me on yer bonny face, yer een sae bonny blue.
The langest day I’d blithely spare tae be alane wi you.”

“O bonny lassie think a wee, my land stretched far and wide,
I 've gowd in banks, I’ve ships at sea, sae will ye be my bride?
My faither’s left me lairdships twa, a hoose at my command,
And I ’ll mak you lady o them a if ye’ll gie me yer hand.”

I flung aside my Lowland coat, earned doun my yellow hair,
Cried, “Leeze me on thee bonny Bess, we meet tae pairt nae mair;
Nae langer Donald o the Glen, I ’m laird ayont the Dee,
And the hairt that proved thee for its ain will aye prove true to thee.”

Old Blind Dogs sing Cairn o' Mount

As I rode by yon Brig o Dye, and past yon hill o broom,
A maiden sang right merrily just as the sun gaed doon,
Sayin, Cairn o' Mount is bleak and bare, and cald lies Clach na Benn,
And you can see the snow lyin there along the summers end.

Chorus (after each verse):
Sayin, Cairn o' Mount is bleak and bare, and cald lies Clach na Benn,
And you can see the snow lyin there along the summers end.

Well I lighted off my dapple grey and walked by her side,
Sayin, Lassie I hey lost my way upon your moor say wide,
0 war me o your face say fare, yer een say bonny blue,
The longest day I blighthly share tae kiss your cherry moo.

O lassie will ye gan we me and leave yer cauld richt glen,
Wee a my kin ye'll bear the gree, there's wealth baith but and ben.
We silks and satins busket braw and ribbons far yer hair,
And maids tae answer when ye cah so can ye wish for mair.

O lassie ye man think a while, my lands are far and wide,
I've gold in banks and ships at sea so come and be my bride.
My faithers left me lordships twa acoach at my command.
I'll mak ye lady o them a if ye'|l gee me yer hand.

O lassie think yer Donald's poor, has niether horse nor coo,
A shepherd stragglin ower the moor is no a mach for you.
Cairn o' Mount is bleak and bare and cauld lies Clauch na Benn,
And I'd rather meet my Donald there than be fair Scotland's Queen.

O lassie I am loath tae tell you throw yer love awa,
Yer Donald brally kens him sel last gloamins what I saw,
As I rode by his shielin door I spied a heiland made,
Yer Donald kissed her ower and ower ond rolled her in his plaid.

Would you sware a solemn oath what you hae told tae me?
I would nae dread my Donald's faith but say base loon ye lee.
It's he's throwm off his laland dress, combed doon his yellow hair.
Sayin, lassie you've been true tae me and now we'll part nae mair.

Nae mair I'm shepherd o the glen but laird a'yont the Dee,
And since ye hae been true tae me I'll aye prove true tae thee.
O Cairn o' Mount is bleak and bare and cauld lies Clach na Benn,
And you can see the snow lyin there along the summers end.