Long Lankin (8:50)

Cover of Spanning The Years

From Spanning The Years and 9 other releases

“Lamkin” (Roud 6, Child 93) is an old ballad and probably one of the darkest. It gives an account of the murder of a woman and her infant son by a disgruntled mason. Versions of the ballad are found in Scotland, England, and the USA.

An unpaid mason

In the most common version Lamkin, the stonemason, is hired by Lord Wearie to build him a castle. When it is complete, the Lord refuses to pay, saying he would have to sell his land to pay for the castle he had built on it. Wearie soon makes a trip across the sea, and Lamkin, with the aid of the Lord’s nursemaid, takes his revenge on his family during his absence. He first attacks Lord Wearie’s baby.

Then Lamkin a’ tane a sharp knife,
That hang down by his gaire,
And he has gien the bonny babe
A deep wound and a sair.

This gets the attention of Lady Wearie, who offers gold and riches to Lamkin if he will spare her life. No rationale is ever given for the extreme measures Lamkin takes, nor why he refuses money at this stage, if his grievances were merely financial. It is speculated that some verses may be missing, although there is some evidence that the nurse may have had a long-standing personal grudge, and played a more active role in the killings.

“O sall I kill her, nourice,
Or sall I lat her be?”
“O kill her, kill her, Lamkin,
For she neer was good to me.”

Lord Wearie returns months later to find his wife and son dead, and Lamkin gloating over the deed.

“And wha’s blood is this’ he says,
‘That lies in my ha’?”
“It is your young son’d heart’s blood;
‘T is the clearest ava.”


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Said the Lord unto his Lady as he rode over the moss
"Beware of Long Lankin that lives amongst the gorse
Beware the moss, beware the moor, beware of Long Lankin
Be sure the doors are bolted well

MetroLyrics Full lyrics at MetroLyrics


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