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Reres Hill / The Jilted Lover

[ Roud 6847 ; G/D 6:1133 ; Ballad Index Ord156 ; Mudcat 29462 ; trad.]

Nigel Gatherer: Songs and Ballads of Dundee John Ord: Bothy Songs and Ballads

Cilla Fisher sang Rares Hill in 1976 on her and her husband Artie Trezise’s Trailer album Balcanquhal.

Maureen Jelks sang Back o’ Reres Hill in 1985 on the Springthyme album of songs and ballads of Dundee, Coorse and Fine, and in 1988 on her Dunkeld album First Time Ever. She credited her version to Eck Harley.

Peta Webb sang Reres Hill in 1986 on her album with Pete Cooper, The Heart Is True. She noted:

[…] Another ballad with an unusual twist is Reres Hill, originally from Eck Harley of Fife, though recorded by both Cilla Fisher and Mary Black. The expected pattern of courtship-seduction-desertion is suddenly broken at the end of the song.

Susie Allan sang Reres Hill on her 1998 album Tipsy Courting. She noted:

Another song learned from Maureen Jelks. Those who know Dundee will appreciate this young couple rambled a long way in their evening of tipsy courting as Dundee Law and Reres Hill are miles apart. That’s whisky for you.

Jim Malcolm sang Reres Hill on Old Blind Dogs’ 2001 CD Fit?. He also sang it at Goodlyburn Theatre, Perth College, Perth, Scotland, in August 2015. This recording was included in the same year on his CD Live in Perth. Susie Malcolm (née Allan) noted on the first album:

An old song with Aberdeen and Dundee versions. This is the Dundee one.

Karine Polwart sang Reres Hill live in 2002 on the Scottish Women tour.

Lynne Heraud and Pat Turner sang Reres Hill in 2007 on their WildGoose CD September Days. They noted:

A traditional Scottish song from Dundee. It begins with a young girl bemoaning her ‘overthrow’ in the first verse and being overjoyed in the last verse when her ‘overthrow’ leads to a proposal of marriage. Some girls have all the luck…

Emily Smith sang Reres Hill in 2014 on her album Echoes. This video shows her at The Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow as part of Celtic Connections 2014:

Christine Kydd sang Back o’ Reres Hill in 2019 on her Greentrax album of songs from Scotland, Shift and Change. She noted:

This is a well-known song from Dundee which I know from the sublime singing of tradition bearer Maureen Jelks. You can hear her on Tobar an Dualchais and on Springthyme records. I’ve heard this sung for over 30 years but only began singing it myself very recently. According to the website for Nine Trades of Dundee, Lady Mary Fair was the 15 August, Assumption Day of Marymas. It was collected from Eck Harley, whose relative I know well and who lives near me. I love the tune and the playing on this, and a happy ending is always welcome! This is 6847 in the Roud index, and versions can be found in Greig Duncan 6 and Ord’s Bothy Songs and Ballads. I love the mood created by the musicians on this track.

Patterson Dipper sang Reres Hill on their 2021 album Unearthing. They noted:

Reres Hill is a Scottish folk song we learned from the singing of Peta Webb. At some point James [Patterson] shifted its time signature from 4/4 into 5/4 where it has been for us ever since.


Emily Smith sings Reres Hill

Last year at Lady Mary’s Fair when I was in Dundee
I fell in with an old sweetheart, he being on the spree.
His company I did accept and with him I did go,
All to my sad misfortune, it proved my overthrow.

We wandered east, we wandered west, we wandered roon’ the Law,
He said he’d see me home that night, but home I never saw.
He kept beside me all the way, resolved to have his will,
And by and by we lost oor way at the back o’ Reres Hill.

And when we got to Reres Hill my lad he said to me,
“You can’t go home tonight, my dear, it’s far o’er late, you see.
But the night is warm and in my pooch I have another gill.
So let us lie doon here content at the back o’ Reres Hill.”

So we had another nip apiece, to quiet oor alarm
When we awoke in the morning we were rowed in each other’s arms.
He handed me the bottle, another glass to fill,
And I drank his health and store o’ wealth at the back o’ Reres Hill.

And then my lad he said tae me, “Lassie dinnae mourn
For while I draw the breath o’ life from you I will not turn.
And if you come tae yonder toon my wedded wife to be
We’ll be happiest couple yet was ever in Dundee.”

So may I never prosper, may I never thrive
In anything I take in hand as lang as I’m alive.
If I should say I rue the day my laddie had his will
Success tae Lady Mary’s Fair and the back o’ Reres Hill.