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Halamus Publishing - Archived Articles - #30, September, 2004



The Articles from the Monthly Newsletters

Written by

M. Lesley Halamek

September, 2004:–

"Dumbarton's Drums"

There are two versions of lyrics, and at least two distinct melodies, all called "Dumbarton's Drums". Both versions of the lyrics appear below. The melody I chose for "Folksongs" corresponds to the first version below. Both melodies, and their words, can be viewed online here:;ttDUMBDRUM.html;ttDMBDRUM2.html

The name "Dumbarton's Drums" derives from the time when Lord George Douglas, created Earl of Dumbarton in 1675, was Colonel of The Royal Scots Regiment, and the Regiment was known as "Dumbarton's Regiment". For more info go to: .

The name Dumbarton derives from "Dun Breatann" which means the fortress, or rock, of the Britons for it was the Ancient Britons who first recognized its strategic potential. Fifteen miles downstream from Glasgow, it was the capital of the ancient British Kingdom of Strathclyde and is one of the oldest fortified sites in Britain.

Dumbarton has been called: Dun Breatann, Alcuid, Acluid, Aclud, Alcluid, Alcluith, Alt Clut, Ailcluaithe, Clyde Rock, Dumbarton....

The fortification of Dumbarton Rock may date from 78-86 AD, when Agricola was sent by the Roman Emperor Vespasian as Lieutenant of Britain. (Cornelius Tacitus, Life of Agricola

78 – "After Iulius Frontinus, the emperor Vespasian sent Iulius Agricola to succéed in the gouernement of Britaine ... where the enimies neuerthelesse watched vpon the next occasion to worke some displeasure, and were readie on ech hand to mooue rebellion..." (Holinshed Historie (re-published. 1807) Vol. I, Book IV, p. 504)

82 – "...In the fourth summer, after that Agricola was appointed vnto the rule of this land, he went about to bring vnder subiection those people, the which before time he had by incursions and forreies sore vexed and disquieted: and therevpon comming to the waters of Clide and Loughleuen, he built certeine fortresses to defend the passages and entries there, driuing the enimies beyond the same waters, as it had béene into a new Iland...." (ibid., p. 506)

83 – "...In the fift summer, Agricola ... passed with his armie ouer the riuer of Clide; and subdued such people as inhabited those further parts of Scotland, which till those daies had not béene discouered by the Romans. And ... placed garrisons of souldiers in those parties...." (ibid., p. 506)

414 – "Gyldas ... declareth ...that the Scots and Picts ... did all the mischiefe, whome he calleth two nations of beyond the seas, the Scots comming out of the northwest, and the Picts out of the northeast, by whome (as he saith) the land was ouerrun, and brought vnder foot manie yeares after. Therefore the Britains being thus vexed, spoiled, and cruellie persecuted by the Scots and Picts ... sent messengers with all spéed vnto Rome to make sute for some aid of men of war to be sent into Britaine. Wherevpon immediatlie a legion of souldiers was sent thither in the yéere 414, which easilie repelled the enimies, and chased them backe with great slaughter, to the great comfort of the Britains, the which by this meanes were deliuered from danger of vtter destruction, as they thought.

But the Romans being occasioned to depart againe out of the land, appointed the Britains to make a wall (as had béene aforetime by the emperours Adrian, Antoninus and Seuerus) ouerthwart the countrie from sea to sea, stretching from Penuelton vnto the citie of Aclud, whereby the enimies might be staid from entring the land..." (ibid., p. 541)

c. 450 – St Patrick wrote to King Ceretic, the British King of Strathclyde at Alcluith (or Clyde Rock) to complain about a raid the Britons had made on his Irish converts....

756 – "[Sidenote: Egbert (Saxon) king of Northumberland.] ...This Egbert (in the 18 yeare of his reigne and Vngust king of Picts came to the citie of Alcluid with their armies, and there receiued the Britains into their subiection, the first-day of August: but the tenth day of the same month, the armie which he led from Ouan vnto Newbourgh, was for the more part lost and destroied ...." (Holinshed Historie (re-published. 1807) Vol. I, Book VI, p. 645)

780 – Clyde Rock burned (January).

c. 870 – ...Ye haue heard how the Danes slue Osrike and Ella kings of Northumberland. After which victorie by them obteined, they did much hurt in the north parts of this land, and amongest other cruell deeds, they destroied the citie of Acluid, which was a famous citie in the time of the old Saxons, as by Beda and other writers dooth manifestlie appeare... (ibid., p. 668)

"...the Vikings attacked: Ivar Beinlaus (the 'cripple' or 'one-legged') en route from capturing York, and Olaf the White from Ireland. They besieged Alcluith for 15 weeks before destroying it, carrying the loot and the survivors off as slaves to Ireland in a fleet of 200 longships."

1018 – Malcolm II of Scotland defeated the Northumbers (battle of Carham) and put his grandson Duncan (the predecessor of Macbeth, another grandson of Malcolm II) on the throne of Strathclyde. When Duncan I succeeded Malcolm II, Strathclyde became part of the emerging Scottish kingdom.

1222 – Alexander II (1214-1249) made Dumbarton a Royal Burgh. A new castle was built – Dumbarton was a strategically important outpost, as Western Scotland was under the control of the King of Norway until Alexander III, helped by the weather, defeated King Håkon in 1263 (battle of Largs).

1296 – Edward I (of England) marched into Scotland (in March), captured Dumbarton Castle and installed his own Governor.

1305 – Sir John Stewart of Mentieth, a Governor of Dumbarton Castle, was instrumental in the capture of William Wallace (August 5th).

1314 – Robert the Bruce led Scotland to freedom (defeating Edward II at the battle of Bannockburn), and often returned to Dumbarton but built a new castle for himself on the other side of the River Leven at Cardross.

1333 – Dumbarton was a Royal Castle, providing sanctuary to David II, the young son of Robert the Bruce, after the Scottish defeat at the battle of Haildon Hill, before he sailed to France, returning after seven years.

1435 – James I's daughter Margaret sailed fron Dumbarton Castle to marry the Dauphin of France, who later became Louix XI.

1489 – Dumbarton Castle was beseiged (twice) by James IV to quell a rebellion by Lord Darnley, son of the Earl of Lennox, and Governor of the castle.

1514 – Captured after the battle of Flodden (9th September, 1513), by the Earl of Lennox, who burrowed under the North Gate on a dark and stormy night.

1523 – Garrisoned for a short time by the French troops of the Duke of Albany.

1530 – Dumbarton Castle held by James V.

1545 – Captured on behalf of Mary Queen of Scots (1542-87), daughter of James V.

1547-8 – The young Mary Queen of Scots had stayed in Dumbarton Castle for five months after the disastrous Battle of Pinkie Cleuch (10th September, 1547) before sailing to France. She married the Dauphin in 1558, and in 1559 he succeeded to the French throne as Francis II, but died in 1560. During his brief reign, Mary was Queen of both France and Scotland. (She was also Heir Presumptive to the Throne of England: her son James VI of Scotland succeeded Queen Elizabeth I as James I of England (James I and VI).

1561 – The widowed Queen of France, Mary Queen of Scots, returned to Dumbarton. When she was defeated at the Battle of Langside (13th May, 1568), and fled to England, the Governor of the Castle, Lord Fleming, remained loyal to her and held Dumbarton Castle in her name until 1571 (after which the castle declined and fell into disrepair).

1571 – On 1 May, troops under the command of a Captain Crawford captured the castle after climbing the cliffs on the north side of The Beak (which everyone thought impregnable), in darkness, and Mary's remaining supporters in the west of Scotland either fled or were killed.

(Although it continued to be a base for controlling the western side of the country, Dumbarton Castle was most often used as a prison, housing Jacobites in the 18th century and French prisoners during the Napoleonic Wars).

1652 – Dumbarton Castle surrendered to Oliver Cromwell.

1670-1690 – Dumbarton Castle rebuilt. It was used as a Government base during the Jacobite uprisings (1689, 1715, and 1745).

1865 – The military left Dumbarton Castle. The army returned in 1914, and in 1939, and the castle saw its last action in May 1941 when a German aircraft dropped four bombs on Dumbarton Rock during a raid on the Clyde. Today Dumbarton Castle is in the care of Historic Scotland.

Dumbarton Castle officially remains a Scottish Royal Fortress along with Edinburgh and Stirling, and the reigning monarch, on his or her coronation, comes to the Castle for the ceremony of handing over the keys.

The famous tea clipper Cutty Sark was built in a Dumbarton shipyard (William Denny and Brothers).

The Traditional Melody: "Dumbarton's Drums"
is on Page 8 of:

"Folksongs for the Violin", Part 4:
A Brief Introduction to the 2nd, Half, 4th, and 5th Positions
(A Graded Selection of Melodies for Beginners of All Ages).

Details on the MUSIC PAGE

Dumbarton's Drums

Dumbarton's drums, they sound so bonnie'
When they remind me of my Johnny;
What fond delight can steal upon me'
When Johnny kneels and kisses me.

Across the fields of bounding heather,
Dumbarton tolls the hour of pleasure;
A song of love that has no measure,
When Johnny kneels and sings to me.


Tis he alone that can delight me,
His graceful eye, it doth invite me;
And when his tender arms enfold me,
The blackest night doth turn and dee.


My love he is a handsome laddie,
And tho he is Dumbarton's caddie;
Someday I'll be a captain's lady,
When Johnny tends his vows to me.


(Caddie = messenger boy)

Dumbarton's Drums

Dumbarton's Drums beat bonny, O,
When they mind me of my dear Jonny, O,
How happy am I
When my Soldier is by,
While he kisses and blesses his Annie, O!
    'Tis a soldier alone can delight me, O,
    For his graceful Looks do invite me, O,
    While guarded in his Arms
    I'll fear no War's Alarms
    Neither Danger nor Death shall e'er fright me, O.

My Love is a handsome Laddie, O,
Genteel, but neither foppish nor gaudy, O,
Tho' commissions are dear
Yet I'll buy him one this Year
For he shall serve no longer a Cadie, O,
    A Soldier has Honour and Bravery, O,
    Unacquainted with Rogues and their Knavery, O,
    He minds no other thing
    But the Ladies or the King
    For every other Care is but Slavery, O

Then I'll be the Captain's Lady, O,
Farewell all my Friends and my Daddy, O,
I'll wait no more at home
But I'll follow with the Drum
And whene'er that beats I'll be ready, O.
    Dumbarton's Drums sound bonny, O,
    They are sprightly like my dear Jonny, O,
    How happy shall I be,
    When on my Soldier's knee
    And he kisses and blesses his Annie, O!

From Orpheus Caledoneus, Thomson (1733)


Chronicles (1 of 6): The Historie of England (4 (e-book: 16536) and 6 (e-book: 16610) of 8) – Raphael Holinshed, (re)published, 1807, have been re-published by the Distributed Proofreaders of the Project Gutenberg).

All Eight Volume I Holinshed Histories (and some from Volume 2) are available HERE

"The Kings and Queens of Great Britain"
—A Genealogical Chart showing their descent and relationships, compiled by Anne Tauté; Edited by John Brooke-Little MVO MA FSA, Richmond Herald of Arms; drawn by Don Pottinger MA (Hons.) DA, Unicorn Pursuivant of Arms (New Revised Edition, 1976).

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