> Folk Music > Songs > Rhynie / The Bogend Hairst

Rhynie / The Bogend Hairst

[ Roud 3090 ; G/D 3:348 ; Ballad Index RcRhynie ; Mudcat 9515 ; trad.]

Norman Buchan: 101 Scottish Songs John Ord: Bothy Songs and Ballads

John Strachan of Fyvie, Aberdeenshire, sang Rhynie on 16 July 1951 to Alan Lomax and Hamish Henderson. This recording was released on the anthology Jack of All Trades (The Folk Songs of Britain Volume 3; Caedmon 1961; Topic 1968). It was also included in 2002 on Strachan’s Rounder anthology Songs From Aberdeenshire. Hamish Henderson and Ewan McVicar noted:

Greig-Duncan names the song as Jock o Rhynie, but this seems to have been the farmer’s name, not the narrator’s. The folk revival favorite The Barnyards of’ Delgaty shares much with Rhynie—tune and verses—but this seems the older. Rhynie is 30 miles northwest of Aberdeen, within the Grampian mountain range and just below Tap o Noth, where one of Lang Johnny More’s giant uncles lived. A fine verse not sung by John is,

Jeannie Riach made my bed,
Lay doon atween me and the wa,
And straickit doon my curly locks, said,
“Buchan laddie, come awa.”

The song is sometimes sung slower and more melancholic.

John Mearns sang The Bogend Crew in ca 1964-5 on his Scotish Records EP John Mearns Sings Six Scottish Folk-Songs. The liner notes commented:

The Bogend Crew reflects long and hard work in “Rhynie’s cauld clay hole”.

Cilla Fisher and Artie Trezise sang Rhynie in 1979 on their Kettle/Folk-Legacy album For Foul Day and Fair. They noted:

Singing this song, we almost feel the same venom as the writer does about the conditions on this particular Aberdeenshire farm.

Jock Duncan sang Rhynie on his 1996 Springthyme album, Ye Shine Whar Ye Stan!. Peter Shepheard noted:

Jock learned this masterpiece from the singing of the great John Strachan who sang it accompanying himself on concertina.

Jock: He was never bettered at this song about the hand shearin days before the reaper made short work of it. This young man’s first shearin wis an unhappy experience, wages were sma and it wis a hungry place and the farmer’s laws were double strict.

The song as sung by John Strachan was included in Norman Buchan’s influential 101 Scottish Songs published in 1962 and is in the Greig-Duncan Folk-Song Collection (GD 348) under the title Jock o Rhynie. An old man, William Forsyth, told Greig that he “remembered as a boy his mother sing Jock o Rhynie and this would take the song back to say 1830”. The farmer at Mains o Rhynie (in the high glens of Auchindoir in Strathbogie about 8  miles south of Huntly) from 1830 until his death in 1851 was John Gordon and he was known as ‘Jock o Rhynie’—but there may have been earlier Jocks at Rhynie and the song could well be earlier. He is said to have denied his work was “ill to work” although he admitted, probably with pride, that Rhynie’s work was very hard.

Jock: Folk think o Rhynie as being “My God, that’s a wild place, there canna be much growin up there”. It’s hilly and there’s a lot a sheepie grun, but it’s [also] some o the finest corn growin country that ever wis.

Jock never worked on Rhynie, but not long ago he and his wife Frances climbed the nearby hill Tap o Noth to look down over Rhynie.

Jock: Whit drew me to Tap o Noth wis the fine walk through the whin and up through the breem. You’re gaun back 4, 5000 year because ye’d the vitrified fort on the top. And here’s me standin on the top o the vitrified fort singin Rhynie, lookin doun, a beautiful sunny day, on the hairst parks o Rhynie away in the distance. And I wis thinkin o Jock…

Tom Spiers sang Rhynie in 2001 and his Tradition Bearers album of Scots songs and ballads, Allan Water. He also sang it in 2001 on Shepheard, Spiers & Watson’s Springthyme album They Smiled As We Cam In, and in 2017 live at St Andrew’s in the Square, Glasgow, during Celtic Connections. The concert was released in the same yoear in the TMSA DVD 101 Scottish Songs: The Wee Red Book 2. Another live recording from June 2019 at Portsoy Folk Festival was released on the festival’s CD and DVD Folk Songs Live From North East Scotland. Tpm Spiers noted on the first album:

I forget where I first heard this song. It was part of the standard repertoire of a number of fine singers such as Jimmy McBeath and Norman Kennedy in the early days of the Aberdeen Folk Club. I sang it myself in the 60s but then ‘lost’ it for about 30 years. It was hearing Jock Duncan recently that reminded me what a great song it was. As is normal with the ‘Folk Process’, the tune is as I remembered it, not necessarily as written. There’s a couple of nice versions of this song in Greig—Duncan Vol.3, no.348.

Jock Tamson’s Bairns sang The Bogend Hairst in 2005 on their Greentrax album Rare. He noted:

The tune was attributed trad, in an Edwardian songbook. Lyrics in Ord’s collection of Scots songs. It’s tempting to think this complaint about the hardships of work in Highland Aberdeenshire is from a displaced Lowland Scot but, realistically, he’s probably homesick for somewhere not too far down the road.

Geordie Murison sang Jock o Rhynie in 2017 on his Tradition Bearers album The Term Time Is Comin Roon. He noted:

First heard from Jock Duncan this is a song lamenting the hard work and strict rules enforced by the farmer. John Gordon tenanted Mains of Rynie from 1830 to 1859. Tune and chorus similar to the Barnyards of Delgaty.


John Strachan sings Rhynie

At Rhynie I sheared my first hairst,
Near tae the fit o Bennachie.
My maister was rieht ill tae fit
But laith was I to lose ma fee.

Chorus (after each verse):
Lilten owrin owrin addie,
Lilten owrin owrin ee.

Rhynie’s work it’s ill tae work,
Rhynie’s waages is but sma.
And Rhynie’s laws are double-stric
And that does grieve me worst of aa.

Rhynie it’s a cauld clay hole,
It’s far firae like ma faither’s toon
And Rhynie it’s a hungry place,
It disnae suit a Lowland loon.

But sair I’ve wrocht and sair I’ve focht,
And I hae won my penny fee.
And ill ging back the gait I cam
And a better bairnie I will be.

Cilla Fisher and Artie Trezise sings Rhynie

At Rhynie I shared my first hairst,
Near the fit o’ Bennachie;
My maister was richt ill tae sit,
But laith was I tae loose m’ fee.

Chorus (after each verse):
Lintin addie toorin addie,
Lintin addie toorin ae.

Rhynie’s work is ill to work;
Rhynie’s wages are but sma’.
Rhynie’s laws are double stricht,
And that’s what grieves me worst of a’.

Rhynie it’s a aold clay hole
Far frae the likes o’ ony toon,
And Rhynie it’s a hungry place,
It doesnae suit a lowland loon.

Sair I wrought an’ sair I focht,
An’ I hae won my penny fee,
An’ I’ll gang back the gate I came,
An’ a better bairnie I shall be.

Jock Tamson’s Bairns sing The Bogend Hairst

Chorus (after each verse):
Lintin lowrin, lowrin lintin,
lintin Iowrin, lintin lee,
I’ll tak’ the gate cam’ again,
And a better bairnie I will be

I fee’d my first hairst in Bogend,
Just at the fit o’ Bennachie,
And sair I wrocht and sair I focht,
But I won oot my penny fee.

Rhynie’s wark is ill tae wark,
And Rhynie’s wages are but sma’;
And Rhynie’s laws are double strecht,
And that does grieve me maist o’ a’.

Rhynie is a hielan’ place,
It doesna’ suit a lawlan’ loon;
And Rhynie is a cauld clay hole, It isna’ like my faither’s toon.

Geordie Murison sings Jock o Rhynie

Chorus (after each verse):
Lintin owerin owerin adie
Lintin owerin owerin ee.

At Rhynie I sheart my first hairst
Doon at the fit o Bennachie
Ma maisters wark was ill tae suit
Aye loth wis I tae lose m| fee.

Rhynie tis a cauld clay hole,
It’s nae neen like ma faither’s toon.
Rhynie it’s a Hielan place,
Disna suit a Lalland loon.

Rhynie’s wark it’s ill tae work,
Rhynie’s wages is bit sma.
Rhynie’s laws they’re double strict
At fit grieves ma worst ava.

If a bi vrocht ats teen in han
A be peyed it’s a promised me.
I’ll ging back the gate I cam,
A better bairnie I’ll be.

Rhynie’s wark it’s ill tae work,
The term time it’s comin roon.
I’m nae gan back tae Rhynie fair,
I think I’ll try ma faither’s toon.