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The Rocks o’ Gibraltar

[ Roud 2174 ; G/D 6:1118 ; Ballad Index R083 ; trad.]

Alison McMorland sang The Rocks o Gibraltar in 2007 on her and Geordie McIntyre’s CD White Wings. They commented in their liner notes:

This song has circulated widely in both oral tradition and print. It is perhaps better known, with change of locale, as The Lowlands of Holland and was first published in 1769 in Scottish Songs and Heroic Ballads edited by David Herd.

Alison learned this lovely version in fragmentary form from the great Lucy Stewart of Fetterangus and fleshed it out with verses she already knew.

The Top Floor Taivers sang The Rocks o’ Gibraltar, in 2014 on their eponymous EP Top Floor Taivers.


Alison McMorland sings The Rocks o’ Gibraltar

The first night I was married my sorrows did begin,
I being a widow’s daughter and loved a captain’s son.
But now he’s gone and left me never to return
And the rocks o Gibraltar lie between my love and me.

The first night I was married and laid on my marriage bed
There came a bold sea captain and stood at my bed head.
“Arise, arise, ye married man and come along with me
To the rocks of Gibraltar and face the enemy.”

My love he built a bonny ship and set her on the main,
With four and twenty mariners to sail her out and hame.
But the weary winds began to rise and the ship began to rout
And my love and his bonny ship turned widdershins about.

My love lies in the salt sea and I am on the side,
Enough to brak a young thing’s hert wha lately was a bride.
Wha lately was a bonnie bride wi pleasures in her ee,
But the rocks of Gibraltar hae twined my love and me.

There shall nae mantle cross my back, nae kame gie in my hair,
Neither coal nor candlelight shine in my bower mair.
Nor shall I chose anither love until the day I dee
Since the rocks o Gibraltar lie between my love and me.

Noo haud your tongue my daughter dear, be still and bide content,
There’s ither lads in Gallawa, ye needna sae lament.
There’s plenty o lads in Gallawa but there’s name o them for me
Since the ragin seas and stormy waves hae parted my love and me.