Covenant 1684

Ian Shankland, UK

Words and music by Ian Shankland
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On a distant day in a Lowland town,

Dragoons set off Edinburgh bound,

With local men from the farms around,

Held as prisoners of the Crown.

Desperate outlaws, friends and lovers,

Sons and husbands, fathers, brothers;

Names set down in black and white,

But who can now say who was right?

From Thornhill up the Enterkin

The soldiers led the captive men.

From bracken slopes the shots rang out,

Then all retreated from the rout.

One of them fleeing from the slaughter

Headed home to wife and daughter;

Food he took from them and ate

Marked them as enemies of the State.

Covenant stone

For not betraying one they sought

A young girl answers to the court.

To make her pay for their defeats

They scourge her naked through the streets.

Pity her anguish and her plight -

Yet her punishment was light.

Other girls, for pity's sake,

Drowned on the sea-shore tied to a stake!

A stone beside a farmyard wall

Long forgotten names recall:

A quiet place that time forgot,

But "In this yard [five men] were shot".

Troubled times and desp'rate measures

Hard-won freedoms who now treasures?

Tragedies we see of late

Are mirrored in this ancient hate.

And so the circle turns again

As long as fear and bigotry remain.


(Adapted from an account by Dave Shankland Mallan and in memory of his ancestor.)