> Steeleye Span > Songs > Isabel


[Maddy Prior]

Steeleye Span recorded this song in 1986 for their album Back in Line. Maddy Prior commented in the sleeve notes:

Isabel of Buchan was rumoured to be the mistress of Robert the Bruce. She was born a McDuff (the family that traditionally crowned the Kings of Scotland) and since she was the only member of the family available, she stole her husband’s horses and rode to Scone to crown him. When she was later captured by the English she was imprisoned in a cage in Berwick Castle for four years.


I lie in this cage in full public gaze
And I don’t give a pin for all their scorn
For I’ve crowned my lover king
Such glorious days I’ve seen
Give me the chance I’d do it all again.

Robbie my love you’ve the heart of a dove
Only Scotland could raise such a man
On the wild mountain side
I have lain down by your side
In spite of the bitter wind and rain.

The soft southern dogs have never scaled the heights
They cower in their comfort secure.
But he has dared it all
And he’s risked the fearsome fall
Surely God will crown the brave and sure.

At proud Bannockburn their cringing hearts did turn
From his noble and daring campaign
I watched from a distant hill
And my heart flies with him still
Though my body may be caged and disdained.

He’s as bold as a ram, he’s as gentle as a lamb
He’s a man that could never be denied
He is generous and gay
But he’s changeable as day
And for just one hour with him I’d gladly die.