Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

Cauld Kail In Aberdeen

Scottish Song

Cauld Kail In Aberdeen is the title of the song found in Herd's Collection of 1776 and The Book of Scottish Song (1843) edited by Alexander Whitelaw.

The popular tune of "Cauld Kail In Aberdeen" is not very old - at least it cannot be traced in any of the older musical collections.

The "Bogie", here and elsewhere celebrated, is a stream in Aberdeenshire, which runs through the beautiful strath or valley called Strathbogie.

As you would expect with such an old song, many differing versions exist - here are four of them.


Related Scottish Country Dances

Cauld Kail

The following are the earliest words to the tune, and are given in Herd's Collection of 1776. Perhaps the reader may detect in them the meaning of the now proverbial phrase, "Cauld kail in Aberdeen, and custocks in Strathbogie."

Cauld Kail In Aberdeen - Herd's Collection 1776

Cauld kail in Aberdeen,
And custocks in Strathbogie,
But yet I fear they'll cook o'er soon,
And never warm the cogie.
The lasses about Bogie gicht,
Their limbs they are sae clean and tight,
That if they were but girded right,
They'll dance the reel o' Bogie.

Wow, Aberdeen, what did you mean,
Sae young a maid to woo, sir?
I'm sure it was nae joke to her,
Whate'er it was to you, sir.
For lasses now are no sae blate
But they ken auld folk's out o' date,
And better playfare can they get
Than custocks in Strathbogie.


It is not known who was the author of the following convivial song, but it is alluded to by Burns as an old song.

Cauld Kail In Aberdeen 1 - Herd's Collection 1776

There's cauld kail in Aberdeen,
And custocks in Stra'bogie,
Where ilka lad maun ha'e his lass,
But I maun ha'e my cogie.
For I maun ha'e my cogie, Sirs,
I canna want my cogie;
I wadna gi'e my three-gir'd cog
For a' the wives in Bogie.

Johnny Smith has got a wife
Wha scrimps him o' his cogie:
But were she mine, upon my life,
I'd dook her in a bogie.
For I maun ha'e my cogie, sirs,
I canna want my cogie;
I wadna gi'e my three-gir'd cog
For a' the wives in Bogie.

Twa three todlin' weans they ha'e,
The pride o' a' Stra'bogie;
Whene'er the totums cry for meat,
She curses aye his cogie;
Crying, Wae betide the three-gir'd cog!
Oh, wae betide the cogie!
It does mair skaith than a' the ills
That happen in Stra'bogie.

She fand him ance at Willie Sharp's;
And, what the maist did laugh at,
She brak the bicker, spilt the drink,
And tightly gouff'd his haffet,
Crying, Wae betide the three-gir'd cog!
Oh, wae betide the cogie,
It does mair skaith than a' the ills
That happen in Stra'bogie.

Yet here's to ilka honest soul
Wha'll drink wi' me a cogie,
And for ilk silly whinging fool,
We'll dook him in a bogie.
For I maun ha'e my cogie, sirs,
I canna want my cogie:
I wadna gi'e my three-gir'd cog
For a the queans in Bogie.


This counter strain to the convivial song of the same name was written by Alexander fourth Duke of Gordon (born in 1743; died in 1827,) and inserted in the second volume of Johnson's Museum.

Cauld Kail In Aberdeen 2 - Herd's Collection 1776

There's cauld kail in Aberdeen,
And custocks in Stra'bogie,
Gin I ha'e but a bonnie lass,
Ye're welcome to your cogie.
And ye may sit up a' the night,
And drink till it be braid day-light:
Gi'e me a lass baith clean and tight,
To dance the reel o' Bogie.

In cotillions the French excel,
John Bull loves country dances;
The Spaniards dance fandangoes well;
Mynheer an allemande prances:
In foursome reels the Scots delight,
At threesome's they dance wondrous light,
But twasome's ding a' out o' sight,
Danc'd to the reel o' Bogie.

Come, lads, and view your partners weel,
Wale each a blythesome rogie:
I'll tak' this lassie to mysel',
She looks sae keen and vogie:
Now, piper lad, bang up the spring;
The country fashion is the thing,
To prie their mou's ere we begin
To dance the reel o' Bogie.

Now ilka lad has got a lass,
Save yon auld doited fogie,
And ta'en a fling upon the grass,
As they do in Stra'bogie;
But a' the lassies look sae fein,
We canna think oursel's to hain,
For they maun ha'e their come-again
To dance the reel o' Bogie.

Now a' the lads ha'e done their best,
Like true men o' Stra'bogie;
We'll stop a while and tak' a rest,
And tipple out a cogie.
Come now, my lads, and tak' your glass.
And try ilk other to surpass,
In wishing health to ev'ry lass,
To dance the reel o' Bogie.


Written by William Reid, bookseller, Glasgow.

Cauld Kail In Aberdeen 3 - Herd's Collection 1776

There's cauld kail in Aberdeen,
And bannocks in Strathbogie,
But naething drives awa' the spleen
Sae weel's a social cogie.
That mortal's life nae pleasure shares
Wha broods o'er a' that's fogie:
Whane'er I'm fash't wi' worldly cares,
I drown them in a cogie.

Thus merrily my time I pass,
With spirits brisk and vogie,
Blest wi' my bulks and my sweet lass,
My cronies and my cogie.
Then haste and gi'e's an auld Scots sang
Sic like as Kathrine Ogie;
A gude auld sang comes never wrang,
When o'er a social cogie.


Cauld Kail In Aberdeen Song Video

Cauld Kail In Aberdeen Song - Information Video

Cauld Kail In Aberdeen printed copy of the song
Cauld Kail In Aberdeen, From Glen Collection Of Printed Music, Illustrations Of The Lyric Poetry And Music Of Scotland, Page 150, 1853


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