Friday, 8 August 2014

The Battle O' Bennachie

My Familiarise Friday slot is unusual since I'm going to post a poem.

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you'll have noticed that I've been writing a series of blog posts about the hill range named Bennachie. 

Bennachie features in Books 3 and 4 (in the writing stages) of my Celtic Fervour Series- though if you read them you'll see I've used the Gaelic form of 'Beinn Na Ciche'.

While ferreting out more information about Bennachie from a book I've had for many years (more than 20) - Bennachie Again - I'd forgotten about the lovely wee poem called The Battle O' Bennachie (AD83) by Professor Duncan R. Mennie. I do hope he'll approve of me sharing the poem as part of my Bennachie posts. 

I love Mennie's Doric version of Tacitus' account of the battle fought somewhere in northern Britannia by the Romans under Agricola, and the Celts led by the man Tacitus names 'the Swordsman' - Calgacus. I'm particularly pleased to realise that in 2013 I used the same form for my swordsman, as in Calgach- which to me was as close as I could get to a Gaelic sounding name.

The Battle O’ Bennachie  (AD83) by Professor Duncan R. Mennie  ( from Bennachie Again)

Ae nicht atween the hay an’ hairst-                     harvest
The corn an’ bere wiz stannin’ braw-
A chiel cam ridin’ frae Dunnottar                        lad
An’ chappit at the yett o’Calgach’s ha’.              back  hall/ home

‘Rise up, rise up, Lord Calgach,’ he said,
‘Rise up and’ lippen tae me.
The Romans sailt by Dunnottar the streen           yesterday
An’ the morn we’ll their legions see.’

Their sailors hiz burnt auld Aiberbrothock,
The Angus lads tae the Mounth hiz taen;
Ah doot the lowe Ah saw i’the gloamin’            flame/ evening light
Wiz the lowe o’burnin’ Aiberdeen.

The gweed Lord Calgach spak bit ae wird        spoke only one word
As he hent his claymore doon frae the wa’,       ripped
‘They maks a desert an’ ca’s it peace;
Up lads an’ saddle yer garrons sma’.                small horses

The fiery cross sped throu’ the lan’
By Don an’ Dee an’ Deveron Fair,
An’ seen wiz mustert on Bennachie                   soon
Thretty thoosan’ men or mair.                           thirty

The Romans marched frae Aiberdeen;
Ayont the Urie they bigget their dykes.              beyond the River Urie they built their ramparts (Durno)
Syne oot i’ the mornin’ we saw them steer
As bees that bizzes frae herried bykes.

They sent the Dutchmen ower Urie Water          Tacitus refers to Batavians
An’ seen the spears wiz fleein’ free
Frae hiz an’ them. The canny Romans
Steed back an’ lat the Dutchmen dee.

Noo up the hill they cam tae fecht us;
Fu’ mony a straik wiz taen an’ gien.
Oor claymores dang on shields an’ helmets,
They pikit wi’ sords as shairp’s a preen.

Oor lads ran doon frae the Tap an’ Shannoch
An’ socht tae turn the Dutchman’s flanks,
Bit the Gaulish horse got room ahin’ them            Tungrian
An’ their doonhill chairge, it brak oor ranks.

Lord Calgach lay deid aneth a breem-buss          broom thicket/bush
His trusty claymore broken in twa;
The lads that wizna taen or killt
They fled tae the Heilan’s, hine awa’.                  hiding away

The Romans burnt oor corn an’ steadin’s;
The reek raise black frae Don tae Spey.
They got as far’s the Laigh O’ Moray
An’ turnt at Forres; weel, that’s the say.

Syne sooth they marched ower the Fords O’ Frew
Sair trachelt wi’ oor trock an’ gear.                      struggling - dealings -  possessions/worthless things?
An’ ne’er cam back. They hid their sairin’,           distress?
Aneuch o’Caledonian weir.                                  weather

If you need further translation - just ask. I'm not a native Doric speaker but the above is my interpretation of the words used

I'm off to do more novel writing now, which includes Bennachie! 


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