> Peter Bellamy > Songs > Fiddler’s Hill

Fiddler’s Hill

[ Roud - ; Mudcat 113179 ; words Peter Bellamy, tune trad.]

Peter Bellamy sang Fiddler’s Hill, accompanied by Chris Birch on guitar and fiddle, in 1975 on his album Tell It Like It Was. He noted:

Poaching in Peter Coe’s territory; this song is based on an old legend;—but I expect Norfolk and Cheshire are far enough apart for him not to mind. The tune is closely based on that if the Irish song When a Man’s in Love.

George Deacon and Marion Ross sang Fiddler’s Hill in 1973 on their Transatlantic album Sweet William’s Ghost. Deacon noted:

A legend in song set t oa traditional tune by Peter Bellamy. The stories of secret passageways from priories and the like are legion, some base on fact, some on hearsay. We do not know whether such a bold hole existed at Walsingham but certainly the bones of a man and a dog were found during recent excavation for road widening.

and he added on Mudcat in 2008:

Peter Bellamy taught me the song one evening after he had sung at a club I ran (Islip, Northamptonshire). Marion and I recorded it and performed it at various clubs. Peter saw us perform it at Cambridge Festival via a TV broadcast and complained that I had rewritten his tune.


Peter Bellamy sings Fiddler’s Hill

From Binham down to Walsingham is not so far to walk,
The lanes wind through the gentle land trod smooth with Norfolk chalk.
But once there was another way, a dark road ’neath the ground,
And down that way there went one day a fiddler and his hound.

In Binham stood a priory tall, built in a far off age,
It prospered long before it stood to bluff King Harry’s rage.
And the Abbey up in Walsingham was likewise tumbled down
But Henry’s men could not find out the way beneath the ground.

Chorus (after every other verse):
The dark way, the deep way, the way beneath the ground,
And down that way there went one day a fiddler and his hound.

No man knew why the monks of old had tunnelled ’neath the sand,
Perhaps for to hide their shining gold, ’neath Mother Church’s land.
Men dug, men delved, men knocked and tapped, and they listened for the sound
Of echoes a-booming from that crypts that lay beneath the ground.

So years passed by and men forgot except in fancy’s train,
Until one day upon that spot there fell a shower of rain.
It loosened sand and flint and chalk, revealing by a mound
The proof and the truth of the old wives talk, ’twas the way beneath the ground.

No man would enter into that dark maw, as black as any well,
They stood and they trembled at the door as at the door of hell.
Until up spoke a blind fiddler who roamed from town to town,
Saying, “I am blind, dark holds no fear,” he swore that he would go down.

He put his fiddle up to his chin, his dog led on before,
And that dark gate they entered in to be never seen no more.
Into black night they bravely strayed and still they could hear the sound
Of the merry fiddle tune he played, beneath the cold, cold ground.

They followed where his tune would go, all across the meadows gay.
And they above heard him below, for as long as he did play.
Until they reached a certain hill, there could be heard no sound:
Beneath that hill his bow fell still, beneath the cold, cold ground.

Three hundred years they have rolled away since the fiddle it fell still
And yet that place unto this day is known as Fiddler’s Hill.
And when they widened of the way, to their surprise they found
White bones revealed to the light of day, white bones of man and hound.