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greengalloway

As all that is solid melts to air and everything holy is profaned...

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Folk and punk

Summer Solstice Kelton Hill

‘Folk is the cultural foundation stone of any people. Without an indigenous culture reflecting or transmitting the feelings of the people society would be anaemic with little or no idea of its own significance.Hence the strength of feeling expressed through the medium of folk by, ofr example, exiles from Chile where the current political ideology is very anti people’. [John Barrow: Folk Now: from- see below]

Thoughts inspired by reading “The People’s Past, Scottish Folk, Scottish History”- edited by Edward J. Cowan, published in 1980. Ted Cowan now Director of Glasgow University’s Dumfries/ Crichton Campus and who has encouraged me to research the Galloway Levellers. At midsummer 1723, local folk met at Kelton Hill to plan what became the Galloway Levellers Uprising of 1724.

June 15 2006
Sure is hot. Just walked along an old railway line, over grown with trees so some shade, but then had to cross the edge of marshland - white with bog cotton, skylarks overhead- and the mid day sun hit me. Took the camera to try and get some shots of Kelton Hill.

Up until about 1850, home to a midsummer fair - horses sold and bought, but also a hiring fair for farm servants and traditionally a ‘riotuous assembly’. Its origin ‘lost in the mists of time’ already by 1790. I have found mentions of it dating back to 1650 -dispute about the purchase of ‘ane black nag’ - farmer from Mid-Kelton bought the horse at Kelton Hill at midsummer that year, but when a lad turned up the next day with the horse, farmer claimed it was not the right one...

Fair probably older -pagan festival? Perhaps, but midsummer a practical time of year - never quite gets dark here at solstice, light enough to travel by 4 am, also dry season, so rivers and bogs easier to cross. But is next to known ‘Celtic’ pagan site - Carlingwark loch [Locheltun circa AD 1200, and carlin = witch] from which votive offerings, including a large bronze cauldron dated to AD 100 and earlier bronze daggers and mini axe heads, have been recovered. Also a crannog - wooden round house built on artificial island - in loch.

A lost world. But so many lost worlds. The local landscape as it was in 1650, even 1750, is lost. It was an open landscape, lacking hedges, fences, roads, bridges and most of today’s trees (trees planted by Victorians as cover for game). Houses built of rough ‘dry-stane’ walls, wood and turf/ thatch. Later landscape features no less lost. A castle built in 1370 in ruins since 1640. A canal built in 1765 now a rush filled drainage ditch. A railway built in 1864 now a green lane overgrown with trees. Only a road (bypass built circa 1980 to replace turnpike road circa 1800) on its embankment high over the marshes is not yet lost. It carries a constant stream of trucks back and forth from Ireland - and today a convoy of army vehicles, part of a 5000 strong ‘invasion of third world country’ excercise.

Punk as Folk

And other lost worlds... the festivals of an alternative/counter culture. Saw a repeat Time Team a few weeks ago about Durridge (Wiltshire). Details fade, but suggestion was that at Durridge there were prehistoric pagan mass gatherings - festivals and feastings- linked by the river to Stonehenge which was mortuary site. Or Glastonbury- 20 years ago this week end at the festival there- landscape here more Somerset (or Cotswolds even) than Wiltshire.

Wind back to 1980 and “The People’s Past”- final chapters on ‘Folk and Protest’ - songs for CND, “The Folk Revival in Scotland’ and ‘Folk Now’ by John Barrow [quote]

‘Folk is the cultural foundation stone of any people. Without an indigenous culture reflecting or transmitting the feelings of the people society would be anaemic with little or no idea of its own significance.Hence the strength of feeling expressed through the medium of folk by, for example, exiles from Chile where the current political ideology is very anti people’.

In 1980, I was in London, writing for Kill Your Pet Puppy - a radical punk fanzine. But in the summer of 1977 I was not, I was in Scotland and it was the Sex Pistol’s ‘God Save the Queen’ rather than any Scottish/ historical ‘indigenous folk culture’ which expressed ‘strength of feeling’ against anti-people ideology.

The Rezillos played that summer of 77 in a packed out Castle Douglas town hall- to an ecstatic audience. [It was a one off - nothing similar happened before or since]

Another lost world? How come we keep losing the ‘this world’? Maybe we don’t. Maybe we just keep re-inventing this world and ourselves within it.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The Rezillos played that summer of 77 in a packed out Castle Douglas town hall- to an ecstatic audience. [It was a one off - nothing similar happened before or since]

Another lost world? How come we keep losing the ‘this world’? Maybe we don’t. Maybe we just keep re-inventing this world and ourselves within it."

I WAS THERE! Andy and I were at Threave and into our music. We ripped each others t shirts to shreds and poggoed and did the dying fly much to the consternation of the local Crombie wearing bampots. Eugene broke a string! After the gig there were some Dalbeattie Hells Angels on Tritons and BSA choppers trying to be cool and mean.....remember this lime it was yesterday!
Peace,
Pete McDougall
Leith
pete@somerled.org.uk

10:54 pm  

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