The Bonnie House of Airlie

Airlie Castle

According Kenneth Goldstein:

This [Child] ballad describes the burning and sacking in 1640 of the castle of the Earl of Airlie, a supporter of Charles Edward, by the Duke of Argyll. Airlie, aware that he would be forced to renounce the King, left Scotland, leaving his house in the keeping of his oldest son, Lord Ogilvie. Argyll, ordered to proceed against the castle, raised several thousand men for the purpose. When Ogilvie heard of his coming with such a huge force, the castle was abandoned. Lady Ogilvie’s defiance is an invention of the ballad muse, for it has been fairly well established that none of the family was there at the time the castle was sacked.

Here’s a version by a young band making a tremendous mark in the world of traditional music, Full Set, with singer Teresa Horgan.

The Bonnie House of Airlie

It fell on a day, on a bonny summer’s day
When the sun shone bright and clearly,
That there fell oot a great dispute
Between Argyll and Airlie.

Argyll he has mustered a thousand o’ his men,
And he’s marched them in right early;
He’s marched them up by the back o’ Dunkeld,
Tae plunder the bonnie hoose of Airlie.

Lady Ogilvie she looked frae her window sae high,
And oh but she grat sairly,
To see Argyll and a’ his men
Come plunder the bonny hoose of Airlie.

Come doon, come doon, Lady Ogilvie,” he cried:
“Come doon and kiss me fairly,
Or I swear by the hilt on my broadsword
I’ll never leave a standin’ stane in Airlie.”

“Oh I wadna come doon, ye cruel Argyll,
And I wadna kiss ye fairly;
Oh I wadna kiss, nay, false Argyll,
Though ye wadna leave a standin’ stane in Airlie.”

“Come tell me whaur your dowry is hid,
Come doon and tell me fairly.”
“l winna tell ye whaur my dowry is hid,
Though ye wadna leave a standin’ stane in Airlie.”

Oh they sought it up and they sought it doon,
And aye they sought it early;
And it was ablow yon bowling green
They found the dowry of Airlie.

Oh they sought it up and they sought it doon,
And aye they sought it early;
And it was ablow yon bowling green
They found the dowry of Airlie.

“Gin my guid lord had been at hame,
But he’s awa’ for Charlie,
There wadna be a Campbell in a’ Argyll
Set foot on the bonny hoose of Airlie.”

He’s ta’en her by the milk-white hand,
But he didna lead her fairly;
And he’s led her up to the top o’ the hill,
Where she saw the burnin’ doon o’ Airlie.

The smoke and the flames they rose so high
And the walls they blackened fairly;
And the lady’s laid her doon on the green grass to die
When she saw the burnin’ doon o’ Airlie.

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One thought on “The Bonnie House of Airlie

  1. Lovely song! You’ve accidentally put the verse where they find the dowry twice and skipped the one about the 11 children and how the twelfth never saw his daddy 🙂

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