> Folk Music > Songs > Childe the Hunter

Childe the Hunter / Childe of Plimstock

[ Roud 23155 ; VWML SBG/1/5/8 ; trad.]

Sabine Baring-Gould, H. Fleetwood Sheppard: Songs of the West

Seth Lakeman sang Childe the Hunter on his 2006 album Freedom Fields.

Andy Clarke and Steve Tyler sang Childe the Hunter in 2013 on their WildGoose album Wreck off Scilly. Andy Clarke noted:

Baring-Gould collected this gem from the Dartmoor poet Jonas Coaker of Postbridge on Dartmoor. I composed the tune.

Jim Causley sang Childe the Hunter on his 2021 album Devonshire Roses. He noted:

Traditional. Baring Gould Collection. Childe's Tomb on Foxtor Mire marks the spot where his frozen body was discovered by the monks of Tavistock Abbey who seized his lands at Plymstock much to the anger of the monks at Plymstock Abbey!

Lyrics

Childe the Hunter in Baring-Gould: Songs of the West

Come, listen all, both great and small to you a tale I’ll tell,
What on this bleak and barren moor, in ancient days befell.
It so befell, as I’ve heard tell, there came the hunter Childe,
A ll day he chased on heath and waste, on Dart-a-moor so wild.

The winds did blow, then fell the snow, he chased on Fox-tor mire,
He lost his way, and saw the day, and winter’s sun expire.
Cold blew the blast, the snow fell fast, and darker grew the night;
He wandered high, he wandered low, and nowhere saw a light.

In darkness blind, he could not find where he escape might gain,
Long time he tried, no track espied, his labours all in vain.
His knife he drew, his horse he slew, as on the ground it lay;
He cut full deep, therein to creep, and tarry till the day.

The winds did blow, fast fell the snow, and darker grew the night,
Then well he wot, he hope might not again to see the light.
So with his finger dipp’d in blood, he scrabbled on the stones,
“This is my will, God it fulfil, And buried be my bones.

“Whoe’er he be that findeth me and brings me to a grave,
The lands that now to me belong, in Plymstock he shall have.”
There was a cross erected then, in memory of his name,
And there it stands, in wild waste lands, to testify the same.

Jim Causley sings Childe the Hunter

Come, listen all, both great and small a tale I will you tell
That on this bleak and barren moor in ancient times befell.
It so befell, as I’ve heard tell, there came the hunter Childe,
All day he chased on heath and waste, on Dart-a-moor so wild.

The winds did blow, then came the snow, he chased on Foxtor Mire,
He lost his way and saw the day and winter’s sun expire.
In darkness blind, he could not find where his escape might gain,
Long time he tried, no track espied, his labours all in vain.

No shelter there upon the moor that long night to remain.
With sword in hand, his desperate man his own loyal steed has slain.
He's plunged his sword deep in her breast, parted flesh and skin.
And in the body of his good grey mare the hunter Childe laid in.

And there with finger dipped in blood he wrote upon the stones,
“This is my will, God it fulfil, that buried be my bones.”
And froze together they did lay till springtime did come around,
The will he left on Foxtor Mire all upon the rocks to be found.