Galloway Levellers 1724-25

The Galloway Levellers were armed groups of small tenant farmers and crofters, including men, women and children, who roamed the SW of Scotland taking militant action against local landowners who wanted to enclose their land and evict them to make way for cattle. Beginning at Kelton Hill, the Levellers therefore began to ‘level’ the walls that had been built. They were armed with everything from muskets and swords, to pitchforks and scythes, and the landlords summoned troops to protect their interests and restore order. These landlords formed an unlikely coalition of Covenanters (Cameronians), Jacobites and supporters of the Hanoverian Government. By the Spring of 1725, the revolt was over and its leaders were tried and imprisoned, fined or sentenced to be transported to the colonies.

Gallowa’ Levellers, 1724

They tried tae build a waa
aroon the likes o Billy Marshall,
but the King o the Gypsies
stood his grun, wid hae nane o it!
Nar wid Jock Walker o Gotland,
an Rab McMorran o Orraland.
They gethered wi the rest at Bombie
an merched agin the Lords o Gallowa.

Wis yon aa they could dae?
Cowp ower a wheen stanes! 
Mibby if ye’d looked through the een
O Jock McNaught o Meadowisles, 
or Jock Cairns o Lochfergus,
ye widnae judge sae hasty.
Thir auld lans wir bein waalled in,
thir auld lives disposed wi!

Scower the map, ye’ll fin Kirkcarsewell,
leuk a bit mair fir Nethermilne,
but ye’ll no fin Jock an Wullie Shennan,
nar Tam Miller an his wife Grisel.
An whit price the lives o a wheen coo’s,
agin that o James Wilson o Greenbrae,
Ye couldnae fatten him up fir profit,
cert him aff tae an English merket.

It took guts tae be a Leveller,
tae stan up agin the Lords,
an refuse tae be enclosed, 
yet, thir story his bin forgotten.
Sae when ye danner doon the lanes
o Gallowa, min o thir names.
Mibbie ye’ll hear thir voices, gaspin
through the gaps in thae dry stane waas.


Derek Ross


By photos,poetry and haiku by Derek Ross

I am a photographer/ poet from Dumfries in South West Scotland. I concentrate on minimalist images and prefer using an iPhone these days. As far as my writing is concerned, I usually write short poems (some in Scots dialect), hence my interest in haiku and related forms.

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