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Scottish Ballads - Features

You will probably agree that poems are far easier to remember than other forms of story telling.

It is possible to make errors and mistakenly alter a poem, but given the typically well-structured nature of poems, it is more difficult to do than incorrectly reciting a piece of prose.

The format of the classic Ballad stanza or verse is as follows:

  • The second and fourth lines of each stanza rhyme
  • Line one has 8 beats
  • Line two has 6 beats
  • Line three has 8 beats...
Clearly there is a rhythm and structure to this which reinforces the point about how much easier poems are to remember than other forms of story telling.

The ballads are well known for getting straight to the point of the subject. There is no compromise in the ballads and everything is clear cut. They also concentrate on the most dramatic part of the tale.

In the ballads you will find no wordy introductions or descriptions; the reader is immediately drawn into the focal point of the story. All background detail is cast aside in favour of action and excitement. This action often takes the form of stark violence. We will often read of murder, scandal, battles and even incest in the ballads, all of which capture our interest and make us think of historical times.

Many Ballads also feature elements of loyalty, the supernatural, comedy and fantasy.

Featured on this site are a select few of the Scottish ballads. Amongst these are the famous historical ballad 'Sir Patrick Spens', the supernatural tale of 'The Daemon Lover', the love stories of 'Hind Horn' and 'The Drowned Lovers', and the tragedies of 'The Twa Corbies' and 'The Thrie Ravens'.

With such variety, there is bound to be something to suit everyone's taste. If you have a favourite which isn't featured on this web site, then email us and we will post it on the site in the future. Enjoy!

Read the history and some other examples of the Scottish ballads here .......

Who are the Scots?

Mary Slessor
(1848 - 1915)
Born in Dundee, worked in the mills there, then became a missionary in West Africa. The Nigerians named her 'Great Mother', because of her contribution to the provision of health care and education for them. She was very influential in helping to eliminate such tribal practices as human sacrifice.

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