Baron of Gartley, The
DESCRIPTION: Gartley returns from war. At his gate he is told that he has died on the battlefield and that his wife has a new husband. The Baron asks "the weird sisters" to curse his lady and her leman. At morning the castle seems burnt and none in it are alive.
AUTHOR: Reverend William Robertson (1785-1836) (source: Greig)
EARLIEST DATE: 1823 (Laing, _Thistle of Scotland_, according to Greig)
KEYWORDS: infidelity curse return death magic storm witch
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland(Aber))
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Greig #69, pp. 1-2, "The Baron of Gartley" (1 text)
GreigDuncan2 344, "The Baron of Gartley" (2 texts)
NOTES: This is a long ballad with lots of supernatural elements:
The Baron's armour "we' witchin spell was bound" so that he could not be wounded in battle. The Baron is challenged on the way by a Kelpie [water spirit] who lets him pass because the youngest of his "weird sisters" loves the Baron. His trip after that is marked by "unholy sangs." When he arrives at the gate he is told by "Billy, born blind" [cf., "Billie Blin, a serviceable house-hold demon" in Child's glossary] the story of his death. When he goes to the weird sisters' home he is greeted by the porter, a goblin, who tells him the sisters are busy digging up the new laid dead in "the rotten kirkyard." When he calls on the "gaunt and grim sisters" he says "Ye promised to help a bauld Baronne, Now make your promise good. Now do to me, ye weird sisters, That deed without a name; My fause lady and her leman Hae brought my house to shame." Finally, after the curse, "lang has the castle bleached in the wing Yet whiter it cannot be."
Greig: "The development of literary consciousness has told with fatal effect on the art of ballad-writing, till a ballad in the true traditional style has become an impossible acheivement. Among imitations, however, as all modern efforts are, 'The Baron of Gartley' holds a high place." - BS
Last updated in version 2.4
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 2016 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.