Queen Among the Heather

DESCRIPTION: Young man, hunting, spies a girl herding sheep among the heather. He is smitten; she is "the bonniest lassie that e'er I saw." He asks her to go with him; she demurs, saying he's a squire and she but a shepherd's daughter. He perseveres and succeeds.
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1908 (Greig-FolkSongInBuchan-FolkSongOfTheNorthEast)
KEYWORDS: courting love beauty farming lover nobility worker
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland(Aber)) US(MW) Canada(Mar)
REFERENCES (9 citations):
Kennedy-FolksongsOfBritainAndIreland 141, "The Queen Among the Heather" (1 text, 1 tune)
Greig-FolkSongInBuchan-FolkSongOfTheNorthEast #44, pp. 1-2, ("Far up yon wild and lofty glens") (1 text)
Greig/Duncan5 962, "The Lass Amang the Heather" (3 texts)
Ord-BothySongsAndBallads, p. 433, "My Lovely Nancy" (1 text)
Stewart/Belle-Stewart-QueenAmangTheHeather, pp. xiii-xiv, "Queen Amang the Heather" (1 text, 1 tune)
Ives-FolksongsOfNewBrunswick, pp. 115-117, "Herding Lambs Among the Heather" (1 text, 1 tune)
Manny/Wilson-SongsOfMiramichi 74, "Herding Lambs Amongst the Heather" (1 text, 1 tune)
Gardner/Chickering-BalladsAndSongsOfSouthernMichigan 51, "The Laird o' Drum" (1 fragment, listed as Child #236 but clearly a version either of this or "Heather Down the Moor"; the stanza form tentatively places it here)
ADDITIONAL: Chris Wright, "'Forgotten Broadsides and the Song Tradition of the Scots Travellers" -- essay found in David Atkinson and Steve Roud, Editors, _Street Ballads in Nineteenth-Century Britain, Ireland, and North America: The Interface between Print and Oral Tradition_, Ashgate, 2014, pp. 87-90, "The Shepherd's Daughter" (2 texts plus a reproduction of a Poets Box broadside)

Roud #375
Harry Lauder, "Queen Among the Heather" (Victor 60010, 1910)
Jeannie Robertson, "The Queen Among the Heather" (on FSBFTX13)
Belle Stewart, "Queen Amang the Heather" (on Voice15)

Bodleian, 2806 c.15(240), "The Blooming Heather" ("As I was coming home, from the fair of Ballymena"), unknown, n.d.; also Harding B 11(331), 2806 c.14(60), "The Blooming Heather"
cf. "Heather Down the Moor" (plot, lyrics)
cf. "Bonnie Lass Among the Heather" (subject)
cf. "The Laboring Man's Daughter (The Knight's Dream)" (plot)
Skippin' Barfit thro the Heather
Queen Amang the Heather
NOTES [206 words]: This song is very close to "Heather Down the Moor (Among the Heather; Down the Moor)"; they have similar plots and occasional common lyrics. Roud lumps them. There will be versions where it is almost impossible to tell which is which. I thought about listing them as one song.
But on consideration, "Heather Down the Moor" has two characteristics rarely seen in "Queen among the Heather." First, "Heather Down the Moor" tends to follow a complex stanza pattern of eight-line stanzas with complex internal chorus and repeats (see sample with that song). "Queen among the Heather" usually has simple four-line stanzas.
"Heather down the Moor" also tends to end with the lines
But if I were a king, I would make her a queen,
The bonnie lass I met among the heather
Down the moor.
In "Queen Among the Heather," he *is* a nobleman, so that obviously isn't a concern. - RBW
Note that the Lauder recording predates not only the otherwise-earliest collection we have found for this song, but also the earliest citation we've found for its sibling, "Heather Down the Moor". - PJS
Also collected and sung by Ellen Mitchell, "Queen Amang the Heather" (on Kevin and Ellen Mitchell, "Have a Drop Mair," Musical Tradition Records MTCD315-6 CD (2001)) - BS
Last updated in version 4.4
File: K141

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 2021 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.