This volume is a collection of Scotland's classic ballads. They have been sung and remembered, from the "debatable lands" of the Border country to Solway Moss and the far North-East for over 300 years. This oral tradition features timeless tales of supernatural beauty and terror, of love, betrayal, jealousy and war. More than this, the great ballads have been a regularly recurrent source of inspiration and influence in all fields of Scottish literature and culture, from the days of Watson, Ramsay, Burns, Hogg and Scott, to early-modern scholars, such as Francis James Child from America, and Gavin Greig, the Buchan schoolteacher and collector. Equally important have been the tradition-bearers and singers through the ages, most often women, such as Anna Gordon of Falkland, and in more recent times the late Jeannie Robertson, her daughter Lizzie Higgins and many others who have kept the songs of the people so vigorously alive in the mouths of the people themselves.
Emily Lyle, an internationally recognized ballad scholar, is a research fellow at the School of Scottish Studies in the University of Edinburgh, and is general editor of The Grieg-Duncan Folk song Collection.