> Martin Carthy > Songs > Bonny Woodhall

Bonny Woodhall

[ Roud 3778 ; G/D 5:947 ; Henry H476 ; Ballad Index HHH476 ; trad.]

Dick Gaughan sang Bonny Woodha' in 1975 on the High Level Ranters' album The Bonny Pit Laddie. This track was also included in 1991 on the CD reissue of Dick Gaughan's eponymous Topic album Gaughan, in 1993 on the extended CD reissue of the Topic album The Iron Muse, and in 2006 on his CD The Definitive Collection. The original album's notes commented:

Printed in Come All Ye Bold Miners, this version was learned by Dick Gaughan, again, from Geordie Hamilton. In every war pitmen have been among the first to volunteer and have often suffered very heavy casualties. In the First World War, for example, almost a fifth of the total labourforce—191,170 miners—had volunteered between August 1914 and February 1915. What happened to many of them can be seen from inspecting the war memorials of any mining village.

Al O'Donnell sang Bonny Woodhall in 1978 on his album Al O'Donnell 2. Tom Munelly commented in the album's sleeve notes:

Also known as Calder's Clear Streams, this song has been collected in Ireland by Sam Henry (no. 476 in Songs of the People) but even there the language remains very definitely Scots and differs little from this version which Al got from Dick Gaughan.

Martin Carthy sang Bonny Woodhall in 2004 on his album Waiting for Angels. He commented in the album's sleeve notes:

Geordie Hamilton was a songwriter and coal miner from around Kirkintilloch who I met in Edinburgh in 1961 through Hamish Henderson. He was an exceptionally graceful singer with a beautiful lyrical sense and I always thought of Bonny Woodhall as his party piece. He would often ask people if they wanted his songs and I am one who gratefully took up the offer although I didn't feel ready to sing it publicly until much more recently, but it's always been lurking. I have no idea which particular war it actually dates from and indeed it could be any one of a dozen or so of those 17th-19th century conflicts in which the British army was engaged. But it doesn't really matter. I think that as a song of an ordinary soldier dying on the field of battle it's just about unique.

Robyn Stapleton sang Bonnie Woodhall on the TMSA Young Trad Tour 2014. The liner notes commented:

This traditional Scottish song is also well known in Ireland, so much that Robyn actually heard it from Dublin singer, Daoirí Farrell. It tells the story of a miner from North Lanarkshire who leaves his sweetheart behind to fight in war, and whilst on the battlefield thinks back to his happiest days, spent with her near Woodhall Estate, by the banks of North Calder Water.

Andy Turner learned Bonny Woodhall from the album Andy Irvine & Paul Brady (who themselves learned it from Dick Gaughan) and from Roy Palmer’s book The Rambling Soldier. He sang it as the August 20, 2015 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week, accompanied by Nick Passmore on guitar.


Martin Carthy sings Bonny Woodhall

By Calder's clear valley, by Calder's clear stream,
Where I and my Annie together were seen.
Days they past swiftly and happy were we,
It is little, she thought, that a soldier I'd be.

On the 20th of August our regiment was lost
When a shot from the enemy our line came across;
Struck me on the forehead, the blood it ran down,
I reeled and I staggered, I fell to the ground.

“Oh come here,” cries the captain, “come here with good speed,
For I fear by a bullet young Dinsmore is dead.”
They poured me the water and the whisky so free,
And they turned me all over by brute for to see.

If my Annie she were here, she would bind up my wounds,
One kiss from her sweet mouth would staunch all the stouns.
But if fortune smile on me and back I return
I will sport with you, Annie, by Calder's clear dam.

For it's wet and I am weary and I think of lang syne,
When I was a young man and I worked down the mine.
Tears they do trickle and down they do fall,
Like the dew on the daisies in bonny Woodhall.

Robyn Stapleton sings Bonnie Woodhall

Down by yon green bushes near Calder's clear stream
Where me and my Annie so often have been,
Oh the hours that flew past us, right happy were we,
It was little she thought that a soldier I'd be.

And it's farewell to Annie for I must away,
The King he needs soldiers and I must obey.
But if providence proves kind love then when I return
I will wed with my Annie near Calder's clear burn.

On the fourteenth of August our regiment was lost
And a ball from the enemy our lines came across.
O it struck me in my temple and the blood trickled down,
I reeled and I staggered and I fell to the ground.

“Come here,” said our captain, “come here with good speed,
For I fear by this bullet young Dinsmore lies dead.”
Two men with a stretcher did quickly prepare
And they carried me away to a hospital there.

Cold water and brandy they poured out so free,
They turned me all over my wounds for to see.
But if I had my Annie to bind up my wounds
One kiss from her sweet lips would soon deaden the stoun.

And it's when I am weary and think on lang syne,
When I was a miner and wrought in the mine,
O the tears they do trickle and down they do fall
Like the roses that bloom around bonnie Woodhall.


See also the Mudcat Café thread Lyr Add: Bonny Woodhall / Bonny Wood Green.