Wednesday 26 June 2019

Felton Lonnin - sung in the Northumbrian dialect

First of all - listen to this lovely song by the High Level Ranters (one of my favourite folk groups back in the day). The song in 3/4 (boom-chacha; waltz time), followed by the same tune sped-up as a jig (diddly-diddly; 6/8).

Singer is Johnny Handle; instrumentation is whistle and accordeon (3/4); changing to Northumbrian pipes, fiddle and accordeon (6/8).

The song is in Northumbrian dialect, as it is spoken to the north of Newcastle. So, see if you can make out what the song is about just from listening

Now, listen again with the following 'crib' - I've translated the dialect:

Felton Lonnin - Felton is a village in Northumberland, a lonnin is a lane

Now the kye [cows] came home but I saw not my hinny, [term of endearment]
The kye came home but I saw not me bairn.[child]
I'd rather lose all the kye than lose my hinny,
I'd rather lose all the kye than lose my bairn.

Fair faced is my hinny, his blue eyes are shining,
His hair in curled ringlets all sweet to my sight.
So mount the old pony and gan [go] and seek after him
Bring to his mammy her only delight.

Now he's always out roaming the long summer days through,
He's always out roaming away from the farm,
Hedges and ditches and valleys and fellsides [hillsides].
I hope that my bairnie has taken no harm.

I've searched in the meadow and in the four acre
And stockyards and byers [animal sheds] but nothing did I find.
So, off you go daddy, and look for your laddie
And bring to his mammy some peace to her mind.

...So, this is a mother whose young child is prone to wander and has gone missing from the farm, singing to her husband to get-on the pony and go-out and 'seek after' (ie. find) him.


dearieme said...


Francis Berger said...

Beautiful song. I would like to make two personal connections to it, if I may.

First, the Northumbrian dialect. I lived in Morpeth and worked in nearby Ashington for nearly a year, and though I grew to love the dialect, I have to confess it took me a solid month to comprehend it fully. Words like "gan" and "hyme" were particularly troublesome at the beginning.

Second, my son is now seven-and-a-half and is prone to wandering. Like the young lad in this song, my boy meanders around in the village and surrounding fields, often for hours at a time. My wife frequently implores me to go out looking for him when the sun begins to set. So, like the man singing this lovely song, I too find myself saying something similar to "So, off you go daddy, and look for your laddie" when I go out to scour the village for my own wandering child.

Bruce Charlton said...

@d - alternative spellings,

but the above is closer to the Northumbrian pronunciation!

@Francis - You certainly need to learn this one, drawing upon your memories.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

When I listened, I got that "kye" meant kine but thought that "hinny" also referred to livestock! (A hinny is something like a mule, isn't it?)

Bruce Charlton said...

@Wm. Apparently it's the opposite mating to a normal mule -- ie. A hinny is one in which the mother is a donkey.

Anonymous said...

for some reason, that video no longer works on my device.

Here's another link to the same title, with the same artist and cover art:

Book Slinger.

Bruce Charlton said...

It works for me, but an extra link does no harm!