Presentation on theme: "The Old Road of Lumphanan Vivid family memories and special places are part of the traditional journeys taken by many Travellers. Storyteller and ballad."— Presentation transcript:
The Old Road of Lumphanan Vivid family memories and special places are part of the traditional journeys taken by many Travellers. Storyteller and ballad singer, Stanley Robertson, remembers his joy at leaving the city of Aberdeen each summer for one of his familys traditional camping grounds, the Old Road of Lumphanan, This old drove road, which has known Travellers since time immemorial, continues to be a source of traditional knowledge, happiness and inspiration to Stanley, though he has not camped there since childhood. I hated living in the city of Aberdeen. There was a terrible prejudice, and the schools were just awful. You couldnt believe how awful it was to be at school as a Travelling child. But when I saw ma father getting his horse and cart ready, all gaily painted up, always like a show piece, we knew it wis time to go! I can taste every season. I just know instinctively, the time that you should be going away. Stanley Robertson
Exodus o Traivellers Oor weerie fitsteps leave behind the Babylon o Aiberdeen An wi lichtsome hairt the folks traivel tae a fairer scene Whaur Nesmore nature caws oor pining sowel tae repose An be at een wi bracken, birk and briar rose Tae savour in the reek o burnin whins Or lie aboot whaur the lispin burnie rins An listen tae stories roon a living fire Big ballads warble oot an niver tire A land o music whaur pipes and fiddles reign A Traivellers Nirvana is maakin in the main Aye, oor footsteps hiv brought us oot tae Auld Lumphanans fame Were happy tae be here again Dear Mither we are hame. Stanley Robertson Journey, for the Travelling people, naturally signified a release from cruel treatment, and the social constraints of enforced schooling or settlement. In sharp contrast to city life, Stanley remembers Lumphanan as a place of community, plenitude and visual splendour. I remember coming down to ma folk. What a welcome there was. And on the edge of the glimmer, the fire, there was a big biling kettle always filled tae the gunnel. And this woman gave us tea and dukes sharras, this is ducks eggs. And ye ken this, I just thought to maself, The Kingdom of Heaven couldna be ony better than this!
Childhood Journeys Ye used tae wait until ye could feel the first smell of broom on the air. And how happy ye wi be fin ma father wid get his horse and his cairt, and wed tak aa the things that ye needed, and just left the hoose in Aiberdeen, and we wid come oot intae the Old Road o Lumphanan. Because this wis the place where ye enjoyed the best pairt o yer life. Ma mither used to say lang ago, that this particular land here, between the river Dee and the river Don, that the Don wis the warlock and the river Dee wis the witch. And this land between it wis for her bairns. This land wis oors aa richt because theres only twa hooses. But this road has been known for many, many supernatural happenings … theres a lot o happiness on this auld road. And ever time I ging up it I could aye sort o feel the spirits o the past … To Stanley, this gate marks the entrance to a land of happiness, learning and living connection with the many previous generations of Travellers who have walked the road. It symbolises a point of transition from a world of drudgery to one of timelessness and magic. The old road has provided the vital spark so apparent in his stories, its landscape woven into many of his traditional tales. These include the human fortunes and experiences of the exemplary Jack, whose journeys through life contain lessons and challenges. With a parable-like morality, they often illustrate the triumph of growing knowledge over selfish actions or greed.
The First Recyclers Stanley Robertson Travelling people didnt just go and pack sticks an say wir off. They had a plan and a method. Ma father worked wi a team o Travellers, to take in the flax. He used to get the contract for the cranberries, which grew in Lumphanan Park Hill. My people never ever went to Blairgowrie, because we never did the strawberries or the raspberries. It was always cranberries when I was a child. The women folk did that work, and the children. They gathered the cranberries, youd to ging up on the hill, with a rake, an ye brushed the berries. Ma father had his horse and cairt, and he went out hawkin. Now when he went out hawkin, all the rabbit skins from the farm people were collected. Youd come intill a huge barn, and itd be full o rabbit skins. Well you got one an thruppence a dozen, for rabbit skins. And the coniine fur was used for the RAF jackets. Also, he went out round the doors selling stuff. He always bought big clothes from the Castlegate. And both ma mother and father were invisible menders. They were both very, very talented, ye know, as regards sewing, they could mend kilts and everything. So they could take clothes and ma mother would wash them. And then they wid iron them, with an old fashioned press iron, and then ma father packed everything tight in a big pack. You always got a good feed fin ye went to the country folk, and ma father made us big money. And this stuff … remember. The clothes had been rationed for such a long time, so the people were always glad to get this kind of thing. On the road as a child, Stanley learned the many skills so essential to the Travelling way of life. As well as a vast repertoire of ballads, stories and tunes, among his family he learned a strong inner resourcefulness and the ability to make a living
A Training Ground Although Traveller children were frequently denied a conventional education, Stanley emphasises that this road was a living community and a training ground, a focal point for learning and progress throughout life. As a child he was immersed in knowledge, often conveyed through ballads, stories and music, which were as much teaching mechanisms as entertainment. Remember just before my generation, none o these people could read or write. But I was being taught en route. You were getting yer English, yer History, yer Geography, yer Literature an Language. Because, what better to come to a place like Drum Castle. Ma father was in the war, the First World War, wi the sons o the Drum. To know about the castle. To know the history, and to get somebody like Jeannie Robertson, singing the Laird o the Drum. So youd an actual visual aid, and you were part of that (EI ). Within Traveller culture, the presence of extended family and the natural environment gave life and ever- presence to their traditions. Today, Stanley stresses that they must only be passed on if accompanied by a deep respect for their content and underlying meanings. The Tree of Life [left], where, as children they measured their height, was symbolic of growing into Traveller life and gaining the special knowledge, skills and maturity through interaction with the environment.
The Traveller Womans Lament Im tired on ma knees Puin bracken, puin bracken Im tired on ma knees Oh wi puin bracken Puin bracken aa day lang Oh wi puin bracken Puin bracken aa day lang Oh wi puin bracken My hands are fired sair Makin besoms, makin besoms My hands are fired sair Oh wi makin besoms Makin besoms aa day lang Oh wi makin besoms Makin besoms aa day lang Oh wi makin besoms My feet are scaaded sair Hawkin hooses, hawkin hooses My feet are scaaded sair Oh wi hawkin hooses Hawkin hooses aa day lang Oh wi hawkin hooses Hawkin hooses aa day lang Oh wi hawkin hooses My backs bent and booed Cookin habben, cookin habben My backs bent and booed Oh wi cookin habben Cookin habben aa day lang Oh wi cookin habben Cookin habben aa day lang Oh wi cookin habben My sowls perjured sair Tellin fortunes, telling fortunes My sowls perjured sair Oh wi telling fortunes Cookin habben aa day lang Oh wi cookin habben Cookin habben aa day lang Oh wi cookin habben As a traveller, Stanleys pride in his identity, and his indelible faith in the worth of his culture, springs from the influence of a remarkable line of talented singers and musicians who passed on the traditions to him. Among many in his extended family, he credits his mother, father, and great grandfather for their wealth of tales, and his auntie Maggie Stewart. His mothers song, using Cant, reflects the frequent hardships of Traveller life. Stanley describes the Travelling people as a people of rich cultural substance and constant resourcefulness in very harsh circumstances. Music and Family
I cant get a house in the County I cant get a house in the Town But I have my horse and my wagon And I travel the country around For its fine to get up in the morning When the larks flying high in the sky And you pack up all your belongings And you bid all the Travellers goodbye And away to the hills we go roaming To find our new resting place It may be some woodland or clearing It may be some wide open space Then why should I go to the army Ive no place that I can call home For Id fight like a soldier for my King But Ive no place that I call my own And away to the hills we go roaming To find our new resting place And Im begging of all you rich people Dont close down our only resting place … Stanleys repertoire includes many of his auntie Maggie Stewarts own compositions, which he sings crediting the talent of a woman who he says could not read or write, yet made so much of her often hard life. Her song may resonate with Travellers everywhere.
The Seasons The hills are clad in purple The autumn winds they are sighing For a beauty growing old The grey grouse and the heather And the evenings where we played Im thinking of my childhood In a very special way That merry laughing summer In her mantle cloak of green That merry laughing summer In her mantle cloak of green But it was Autumn gentle Autumn When the leaves they start to fall Im thinking on my childhood And I love him best of all The beautifully descriptive language, the creativity and musicianship that is part of Traveller traditions is something Stanley equates with their knowledge of the natural environment. He believes that Travellers music is so distinctive because it takes its timings from the moods and different characteristics of the seasons. This multidimensional awareness is one element that makes traveller culture so uniquely, and intuitively expressive. Travelling folk were very elemental, were very much in tune with the elements, and what was gan on. And thats where we learnt wir songs, stories, music … Ma Mither used to say, If ye listen to mither nature, shes a living being. What does she say to ye? What does she tell ye?
Auld Cruvie Auld Cruvie, the giant, ancient and all seeing oak tree is described as the King of the Road, and respected for his age and stature. In Stanleys family it is considered unlucky to pass him by without shaking his hand and asking permission. Auld Cruvie is the focal point of one of Stanleys favoured Jack tales. At the time of the 50 year solstice, all the trees of the road come out to dance, revealing long hidden jewels and untold treasures. Jack succeeds because he has the wisdom not to take more than he needs; whereas the greedy Laird of the Black Airt is still filling his pockets with treasure when he is crushed by the roots of the returning tree. Stanley uses this tale today to illustrate the very topical environmental message that overpowering greed and lack of respect for nature will result in humanitys ultimate demise.
The hidden traditional wealth of The Old Road of Lumphanan is carried in the mind and memory, and easily escapes the eyes of the uninformed. The unique potential of the Travelling people to see everything as a resource has created it. The only physical trace of the roads alternative history is hidden, carefully buried in the midden, where Stanley says Travellers buried rubbish which could not be burned. He emphasises, my folk were very strict and clean. Stanleys faith in the value of his culture and people ensures that the treasures of the old road are kept in living memory. His efforts to pass on his traditions to his family and others, brings just credit to the valuable knowledge, skills and traditions of the Travelling People, and enables many to glimpse the enriching wealth of lore nurtured on the Old Road of Lumphanan
Fieldwork Jeannie Robertson, one of Scotlands best-known singers The project has also gathered together and remastered important old recordings from private collections Margaret Maggie Stewart, recorded by her nephew Stanley Robertson Elphinstone Institute