Oops! This site has expired. If you are the site owner, please renew your premium subscription or contact support.

Scots Sangs An Tunes Fur Schools

Traditional and new Scots songs and tunes
for use in Scottish schools - and everywhere else

Binnorie O Binnorie

[The Two Sisters]

There were two sisters lived in a glen

Binnorie o Binnorie,

And the bonnie millert laddie cam a–coortin o them,

By the bonnie mill dams o Binnorie.

Oh sister oh sister, will ye take a walk

Roond be the dams o Binnorie,

For to hear the blackbird whistle o’er its notes

By the bonnie mill dams o Binnorie.

They walked up and sae did they doon

And roon be the dams o Binnorie,

Till the elder stepped aside and dang the younger in

To the deep mill dams o Binnorie.

Oh sister, oh sister stretch oot yer hand

Binnorie o Binnorie,

And I’ll gie ye my gold and a fifth o my land

For the bonny millert laddie o Binnorie.

It wisna for yer money that I dang you in

Binnorie o Binnorie,

It’s you being so fair love and I so very grim

For the bonny millert laddie o Binnorie.

Oh millert oh millert rin oot yer dam

Binnorie o, Binnorie,

For there’s some grand lady or some deid swan

Floatin up and doon the dams o Binnorie.

One of our oldest ballads, sung or told as a story in many countries, about fatal sisterly jealousy.  There are many Scottish, English and American versions of this ballad. It was printed as ‘The Miller and the King’s Daughter’ in 1656. In older versions the young man who comes courting is a prince, here he is a miller’s son. In other versions the drowned girl is the miller’s own daughter.

John Strachan’s version omits the wonderful ‘magical’ ending in which a harp or fiddle (or even a piano) is made from the sister’s white bones and yellow hair, and taken to play at the wedding, where it sings the story of the murder.

John Strachan was a well-to-do farmer at the Aberdeenshire Farm of Crichie near Fyvie who had a wonderful fund of old ballads and bothy ballads. In 1951 Hamish Henderson took American folklorist Alan Lomax to record John Strachan's singing. Strachan was born in 1875 and died in 1958.