> Folk Music > Songs > Sir Colvin

Sir Cawline / Sir Colvin

[ Roud 479 ; Child 61 ; Ballad Index C061 ; trad.]

James Kinsley: The Oxford Book of Ballads

Spriguns sang Sir Colvin on their 1976 Decca album Revel Weird and Wild.

Steve Turner sang Sir Colvin, accompanied by himself on concertina and by Martin Carthy on guitar, on his 2008 Tradition Bearers album The Whirligig of Time. He noted:

An interesting way to win the hand of the King’s daughter.

There have been several efforts over the last 250 years to condense this ballad—Child 61—which is in two parts and runs to nearly 400 verses. My attempt here has meant that amongst other escapades the description of Sir Colvin’s slaying of the five headed giant has to be left out. But I’m afraid that we shall never know the foll extent of his adventures because, as Child says in his notes quoting his own source, Percy’s Reliques [1765], “There is a large omission after the 125thverse!”


Steve Turner sings Sir Colvin

There lived a king in fair Scotland,
King Malcolm called by name,
And ancient history does recall
His valour, worth, and fame.

And as it fell all on one day
The king sat down to dine,
And there he missed a favourite knight
Whose name was Sir Colvin.

Up then spoke another knight
One of Sir Colvin’s kin
“He’s lying in bed right sick with love
All for your daughter Jean.”

“Ah so it be,” said the royal king,
“She’ll take him the bread and wine
And set him a table by his bed,
Sir Colvin rise and dine.”

“Well do I like your wine lady,
Brought by your lovely hand;
But better I love your fair body
Than all fair Scotland’s strand.”

“Ah hold your tongue now Sir Colvin,
Let all your folly be;
My love must be by honour won
Or none shall enjoy me.”

Up then raised him Sir Colvin,
Dressed in his armour fine,
And he is on to Elrick’s hill
Without the light of the moon.

At midnight mark, the moon did rise,
He saw an armoured knight
And a fair lady bearing his brand
With torches burning bright.

“Take you to the road before I come,
Take you to your heels and flee;
For I have a sword both sharp and broad,
Will quarter you in three.”

Sir Colvin then he drew his sword,
The knight he drew his brand,
And there they fought on Elrick’s hill
Till they were bloody men.

“I yield, I yield,” the knight he said,
“I surely yield to thee,
For none e’er came to Elrick’s hill
And gained such victory.”

“A favour then,” said the lady gay,
“A favour I ask of thee.”
“Ask on, ask on,” said Sir Colvin,
“What may your asking be?”

“Let me take home my wounded knight,
Let me fare on my way;
And I’ll ne’er be seen on Elrick’s hill
By night nor yet by day.”

“You must take home your wounded knight,
Go with your gallant lord;
But I must have one piece of him,
The hand that bears the sword.”

The knight’s own brand and his sword hand
Were struck unto the ground,
And the rings that were on his fingers
Were worth five hundred pounds.

Colvin’s he taken the bloody hand,
Set it before the throne,
And the king gave Colvin his consent
To marry his daughter Jean.