About Tom Britton

Tom Britton lives & works in Edinburgh, Scotland. He is a fan of all types of music & stories.

Lamkin – A most brutal bloody ballad.

Introduction Fragments of time and history filter down to us in the Child ballads. We get whispers and incomplete stories that make us ponder what ‘really’ lies beneath. This is deeply true in the case of “Lamkin.” Like so many of the ballads collected by Francis James Child, the ‘truth’ … → read more

Faur distant: Burns, MacColl & the Spanish Civil War.

The power and influence of a poet A kind of madness breaks out in unexpected places across the world on the 25th of January. People gather in Edinburgh, London, Moscow, and Washington D.C., among other places, to eat, drink, and remember the words and works of a long dead poet … → read more

“The tear blindit his ee” – The story of “Sir Patrick Spens”

The ballad “Sir Patrick Spens” is one of the oldest ballads in western Europe. It tells the story of a king who seeks the best and most experienced sailor in his kingdom for a dangerous and certainly life threatening journey. An unknown knight within the king’s company shouts out the … → read more

The King, the Queen, her lover and his death: The Bonnie Earl of Moray.

Donibristle House site of Donibristle Castle There is very little left of the original Donibristle Castle, the site of the brutal murder of James Stewart, the 2nd Earl of Moray. There was a major program of rebuilding, and Donibristle House was built on the site of the castle in 1700. … → read more

The King, the Queen, her lover and his death – the Bonnie Earl of Moray – Introduction.

James Stewart, 2nd Earl of Moray   This week in Murder Ballad Monday we return to the murky, murderous past of Scotland, as we explore another one of Francis James Child’s collected ballads from Scotland and England. The plot reads like a Hollywood historical blockbuster. Two nobles in dispute over … → read more

The Twa Corbies – A murder mystery.

This week we are looking at the old Scots ballad “The Twa Corbies.” In our introduction we set the scene for this mysterious dark ballad. Somewhere in the origins of this ballad there is a close relationship with the English ballad The Three Ravens. However it is the differences between … → read more

If killing anybody is a terrible crime … Part 2.

Lord Goddard, Lord Chief Justice of England 1946 – 1958 In the first part of this week’s blog we followed two young teenage boys, Christopher Craig, aged 16, and Derek Bentley, aged 19, as they were surrounded by the police after being spotted breaking into a warehouse in Croydon, London. … → read more

If killing anybody is a terrible crime … Part One.

Mr Elvis Costello This week’s post, indeed the 200th of this blog, comes mainly from Mr Elvis Costello and a song from his album Spike in 1989. The song, which will be revealed in a second, seeks to address a wrong, an injustice. The song, angry, contemptuous, and damning of those … → read more