Haughs o' Cromdale, The
DESCRIPTION: "As I came in by Auchindoun, a little wee bit frae the toon... To view the Haughs o' Cromdale," the singer hears that the Highland army has been defeated. But Montrose refuses to accept defeat, and in a second battle heavily defeats the English
EARLIEST DATE: 1819 (Hogg1)
KEYWORDS: patriotic Scotland Jacobites battle
Apr 30, 1690 - Battle of Cromdale
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland(Aber))
REFERENCES (7 citations):
Hogg1 2, "The Haughs of Cromdale" (1 text, 1 tune)
GlenbuchatBallads, pp. 83-85, "Haughs O Cromdale" (1 text)
Greig #96, p. 1, "The Haughs o' Cromdale" (1 text)
GreigDuncan1 113, "The Haughs of Cromdale" (2 texts, 5 tunes)
Whitelaw-Ballads, pp. 546-548, "The Haughs of Cromdale" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: Kenneth Norman MacDonald, "The Gesto Collection of Highland Music," 1895 (reprinted 1997 by Llanerch Publishers), Appendix, p. 63, "The Haughs of Cromdale" (1 tune)
Michael Brander, _Scottish and Border Battles and Ballads_, 1975 (page references to the 1993 Barnes & Noble edition), pp. 187-189, "The Haws o' Cromdale" (1 text, 1 tune)
John MacDonald, "The Haughs O' Cromdale" (on Voice08)
Bodleian, Harding B 25(814), "The Hearts of Campbell" ("As I came in from Auchindown"), W. Stephenson (Gateshead), 1821-1838; also Harding B 11(480), "The Hearts of Campbell"; 2806 c.14(66), "The Haughs of Crumdel"
Murray, Mu23-y1:070, "Haughs o' Crumdal," James Lindsay (Glasgow), 19C
NLScotland, RB.m.143(024), "Haughs o' Crumdale," unknown, c. 1890
The Herald's Approach (per broadside Murray, Mu23-y1:070)
On the Restoration of the Forfeited Estates 1784 (_Scots Musical Museum_ #298, to the tune "As I came in by Auchindown")
NOTES: Historical accuracy is rarely to be found in folksong, but this piece comes close to taking the cake. There was only one Battle of Cromdale, in which Williamite army of Thomas Livingstone beat the Jacobites under Buchan easily. Montrose (1612-1650) was not involved in any way, having been executed some 40 years before!
John Prebble, Glencoe, Martin Secker & Warburg, 1966 (I use the 1968 Penguin edition), p. 90, says that Hugh Mackay, the Williamite commander in Scotland, "sent Sir Thomas Livingstone against Buchan [who had raised a standard of rebellion on behalf of James II] with twelve hundred horse and foot, and some levies from Clan Grant and Clan Mackay. The Jacobite leader was a brave and romantic fool. He made no proper reconnaissance, and posted too few sentinels. In the first dawn of May, while his army was still sleeping upon the haughs of Cromdale, Livingstone's six troops of dragoons galloped out of the mist, swinging their swords. It was a rout, not a battle.... Buchan [escaped] without hat, coat or sword. Four hundred Highlanders were taken prisoner and the rest went home in disgust."
That being the case, there have been various attempts to determine what battle the song is actually about. The best guess is the Battle of Auldern, May 9, 1645. Montrose, typically, had won a battle at Inverlochy in February, only to see most of his army dissolve. (A large part of his force was MacDonalds, and they were very inconsistent allies.) By May, the Covenanters felt strong enough to attack him. They managed an initial surprise, but Montrose won the day with a counterattack.
In some ways, the story of the song reminds me more of the raid on Dundee a month earlier (April 4-6), though that wasn't much of a battle -- but it did involve an attempt to attack Montrose, which miscarried. This was called a victory in London, but Montrose obviously was around to fight again a month later.
In neither case, though, did the result change the strategic situation much. Auldern came only a few weeks before the Battle of Naseby (June 14), and that much bigger and more important battle settled Charles I's hopes for good and all (though it was a while before people realized that).
Auldern does seem the best fit, but given the strange situation, I would not consider the connection proved. In particular, why conflate it with Cromdale? The latter was not a significant battle in any way; most short histories don't so much as mention it.
The song, despite its inaccuracy, has survived well, but that seems to be mostly because of its excellent tune, beloved by pipers. - RBW
Yates, Musical Traditions site Voice of the People suite "Notes - Volume 8" - 1.3.03 regarding John MacDonald's version of "The Haughs O' Cromdale": "It was a complete shambles, prefiguring the Battle of the Boyne fought two months later, and the present song reflects events very much the way they happened. Curiously enough, the first song called The Haughs o' Cromdale to be printed (Jacobite Relics, 1819, vol.1 song 2) makes the battle a Jacobite victory, and brings in the long-dead Montrose to retrieve the day. John's song, recorded 150 years later, is certainly older than the Jacobite Relics rewrite." There are not two songs, but only one (though an argument can be made that the radical difference in outcome would justify splitting them): Hogg's -- and the broadsides' -- version has the reporter "in tartan trews" report the victory for Montrose; MacDonald's reporter simply states
For MacDonalds' men, Clan Ronald's men,
MacKenzie's men, MacGelvey's men,
And the highland men and the lowland men
Lay dead and dying in Cromdale. - BS
Last updated in version 3.2
Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography
The Ballad Index Copyright 2015 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.