Loch Lomond

“Loch Lomond” is a traditional Scottish folk song that is known and loved throughout the entire English-speaking world. Few people, however, know the tragic story behind the song.

View from Duncryne Hill over Loch Lomond View from Duncryne Hill over Loch Lomond

In July 1745 a young prince sailed from France and landed on the coast of Scotland. His name was Charles Edward Stuart, and he soon gained the nickname Bonny Prince Charlie. His mission was ambitious: to raise an army and march to London to win back the crown of Scotland and England that his grandfather, James II, had lost 57 years earlier. Supporters of the Stuart cause were known as Jacobites, Jacobus being the Latin for James.

At first things went well. Many Scottish highlanders rallied to his cause and in November he crossed the border in England with an army of around 6000 men. But his luck turned. The support he had hoped for from the English population never materialised and he was forced to turn back, with the British army at his heels. On April 16, 1747, the Jacobite forces were slaughtered at the Battle of Culloden in Scotland, the last battle ever to be fought on British soil. The prince escaped and spent the rest of his life in exile.

One interpretation of the song “Loch Lomond” is that it was written by a Jacobite prisoner after the defeat at Culloden. Sure that he was to be executed by his English capturers while his fellow prisoner was to be released, he wrote that his spirit would return to Scotland on the low road (the spirit world of death) much faster than his comrade on the high road.

 

Loch Lomond

By yon bonnie banks and by yon bonnie braes,

Where the sun shines bright on Loch Lomon'.

Where me and my true love were ever wont to gae

On the bonnie, bonnie banks o' Loch Lomon'.

 

O ye'll tak' the high road and I'll tak the low road,

An' I'll be in Scotland afore ye;

But me and my true love will never meet again

On the bonnie, bonnie banks o' Loch Lomon'.

 

'Twas there that we parted on yon shady glen,

On the steep, steep side o' Ben Lomon',

Where in purple hue the Hieland hills we view,

An' the moon comin' out in the gloamin'.

 

O ye'll tak' the high road and I'll tak the low road,

An' I'll be in Scotland afore ye;

But me and my true love will never meet again

On the bonnie, bonnie banks o' Loch Lomon'.

 

The wee birdies sing and the wild flowers spring,

And in sunshine the waters are sleeping:

But the broken heart, it kens nae second spring again,

Tho’ the waefu’ may cease from their greeting.

  • Loch Lomond (song) 2:31