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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid

The Sang o Amheirgin

3rd December 2012

The 1st Irish poet, Amheirgin, came to Ireland in 1268 BC & composed “The Song of Amheirgin”, which has been handed down orally. It appears in English in The Celts by Frank Delaney. Here, it is set into Scots:

The Sang o Amheirgin

I am a stag o seeven tines
I am a spate alang a lea
I am a win ower lochan deep
A tear, the sun loots doondrap free
I am an ern abeen the Craig
I am a stob aneth a nail
I’m a bumbazement mangst the flooers
I am a warlock ... it’s masel
Kinnles the cweel heid reid wi rikk.
I am a spear raxxed heich fur bluid
I am the salmon in the puil
I am a lure frae Tir-nan-Og
A knowe far sennachies travail
I am a boar, rampagin reid
A hurlygush o waefu weird
Drooned daith, aneth the ocean’s sweel
I am a bairnie … fa bit me
Teets far fey staunin steens are stapped?
I am the wame far otters bide
I am the sunbleeze on the knowe
In ilkie bees’ skepp, I’m the bride
I am the bield fur ilkie powe
The mool, far ilkie hope is happed.

Amongst the Celts, the raven, the swan, the bull, the stag, the boar, the salmon and the horse were revered in the animal world. It was the ‘Salmon of Wisdom’ that passed its knowledge on to Finn McCool. Particularly venerated were copses of oak. Overlooking Ballater is Craigendarroch, the hill of the oaks; in such places, Druids performed their rituals, after a training which could take up to 20 years. In Loch Kinord, near Ballater, the remains of a Celtic crannog (lake village) have been found, and it is thought that the Celtic settlement known as Devana was situated around the Muir o Dinnet.

The Celts practised the cult of the severed head, believing that the soul resided in the head, and often decapitated their enemies in battle. As late as the 17th Century the custom persisted. During a bitter dispute by Forbes of Strathgirnock and his rival a Gordon of Knock, Black Arthur Forbes surprised his enemy’s sons cutting peat on the moor and slew them all, impaling each head on a flauchter-spaad.