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The Kielder Hunt

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The Scottish Folksinger

Willie Scott [1897-1989] sang The Kielder Hunt in a 1953 recording that was included in 2002 on the Borders Tradition CD Borders Sangsters. He and Sandy Scott sang it to Samuel B. Charters at King’s Seat of Auth, Kolty, Fifeshire, on 16 August 1960 which was released in the same year on the Folkways anthology The Borders. He also recorded it on 3 November 1967 in Bill Leader’s home in Camden Town, London. This recording was released in the following year on Scott’s Topic album The Shepherd’s Song, and it was also included in 1998 on the Topic anthology of songs of hunting and poaching, To Catch a Fine Buck Was My Delight (The Voice of the People Volume 18). Maurice Lindsay commented in Scott’s album’s sleeve notes:

A Northumbrian song, written by James Armstrong of Redesdale, Northumberland, and published in 1879 in a book called Wannie Blossoms. In some ways it is musically the most interesting piece in this recital, a Scots Borderers version of a song from “the other side” though given with a good measure of Northumbrian dialect. It too, is a catalogue song, recounting not only the various local worthies who attend the hunt, all those who cried:

Hark away! Hark away!
O’er the bonnie hills o Kielder, hark away!

until the singer can record:

The hunt is done, his brush is won,
I hear the death halloo.”

and the song ends with the conventional toast to the “gallant sportsmen a” who brought matters to this conclusion.

Archie Fisher sang The Kielder Hunt on his eponymous 1968 Transatlantic album Archie Fisher.

Johnny Handle sang The Kielder Hunt on The High Level Ranters’ 1976 Topic album Ranting Lads. They noted:

Words from Wanny Blossoms, a collection of Northumbrian poems by William Armstrong, published in the late 19th century. Tune from the singing of Willie Scott, the Border shepherd. The fox in this song must have a close relationship to other ‘giant’ folk animals like the Boilhope Tup and the Derby Ram, as the country covered in the hunt is an enormous area. Kielder is a town in the North Tyne Valley, some 50 miles north-west of Newcastle, which has changed its environment from fells to forest since the song was written, and is soon to change again owing to the flooding of the Valley.

Louis Killen sang The Kielder Hunt on his 1993 CD A Bonny Bunch.

Brian Watson sang The Kielder Hunt at the Fife Traditional Singing Festival, Collessie, Fife in May 2008. This recording was included in the following year on the festival’s anthology Grand to Be a Working Man (Old Songs & Bothy Ballads Volume 5).

Danny Spooner and Duncan Brown sang The Kielder Hunt on their 2011 CD The Fox, The Hare and the Poacher’s Fate.


Willie Scott sings The Kielder Hunt

Hark hark! I hear Lang Wull’s clear voice sounding through the Kielder Glen,
Where the raven flaps her glossy wing and the fell fox has his den;
There the shepherds they were gathering up wi mony a guid yauld grew,
Wi wiry terrier game an keen, an fox hund fleet and true.

Chorus (after each verse):
Hark away! Hark away!
O’er the bonnie hills o Kielder, hark away!

There was Mowdie frae Emmethaugh, there was Royal frae Bakethinn;
There were hunds frae Reed and Kielder Heid, an Ruby by the Linn;
There were hunds of fame frae Irthingside, they try baith moss an crag;
Hark hark! That’s Mowdie’s loud clear note, he has bold Reynard’s drag.

Away an away, o’er hill and dale, an up by yonder Stell,
The music of the gallant pack resounds owrw muir and dell;
See yon herd callant waves his plaid, list his loud tally-ho;
The fox is up and streaks away, o’er the edge o Hawkhope Flow.

Hark forward, hark ye gallant hunds, hark onward, hark away!
He kens the holes on Tosson Hills, he kens the holes at Rae;
There’s no a den roon the Kale Stane but he kens weel I trow,
An aa the holes on Leriston, he kens them throw and throw.

There’s Wanny’s Crags an Sewing Shiels, and Christenbury too,
Or if he win to Hareshaw Linn ye may bid him adieu;
The Key Heugh an the Cloven-Crags, the cove at Darna Haa,
Chatlehope-Spoots an the Wily holes, auld foxy kens them aa.

Away an away owre bank and brae, they drive the wily game,
Where Mowdie, Ruby, Royal still uphaud their glorious fame;
See yon leish yald shepherd lads, how Monkside heights they climb,
They’re the pride o aa the Borders wide, for wind and wiry limb.

Throw yon wild glen they view him now right for the Yearning Linn,
By cairn an crag, o’er moss and hads, sae glorious was the din;
Weel dune! Hurrah! They’ve run him doon, yon’s Mowdie twirls him now,
The hunt is done, his brush is won, I hear the death halloo.

Then here’s to Will o Emmethaugh, for he’s a sportsman true,
Here’s to Robie o Bakethin, an Rob o Kielder too;
At the Hopes Bewshaugh an Kersie Cleuch, Skaup Riggend an the Law,
In Tyne an Reed, and Irthing heid, they’re gallant sportsmen aa.

Acknowledgements and Links

I copied the lyrics from Alison McMorland’s Willie Scott book Herd Laddie o’ the Glen.