Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

Highland Mary

Scottish Country Dance Instruction

HIGHLAND MARY (S8x32) 3C (4C set) Jo Hamilton Let's All Dance Too

1- 8 1s+2s set twice, 1s+2s dance RH across
9-16 1s cast below 3s and dance up to top, 1s cast 1 place and face 1st corners
17-24 1s turn 1st corner RH and turn partner LH, turn 2nd corner RH and partner LH to end 2nd place own sides
25-32 1s+3s dance R&L

(MINICRIB. Dance crib compiled by Charles Upton, Deeside Caledonian Society, and his successors)

Dance Notes

May be danced as a Strathspey or Jig.

Dance Instruction Videos

Highland Mary - Scottish Country Dancing Instruction Video

Dance Information

The title of this dance, Highland Mary, comes from the Highland Mary - Song written by Robert Burns in 1792, sung to the melody Katherine Ogie.

Ye banks, and braes, and streams around
The castle o' Montgomery,
Green be your woods, and fair your flowers,
Your waters never drumlie!
There simmer first unfauld her robes,
And there the langest tarry;
For there I took the last Fareweel
O' my sweet Highland Mary.

It is one of three works dedicated to Mary Campbell, with whom Burns was in love in the 1780s. The others, "Highland Lassie, O" and "Will Ye Go to the Indies My Mary?", were composed in 1786. "Highland Mary" consists of four stanzas that speak of Burns's affection for the lady, his melancholy at her death and his continued memory of her.

Burns said of his song, "This was a composition of mine in very early life, before I was known at all in the world. My Highland lassie was a warm-hearted charming young creature as ever blessed a man with generous love. After a pretty long tract of the most ardent reciprocal attachment we met by appointment, on the second Sunday of May, in a sequestered spot by the Banks of Ayr, where we spent the day in taking farewell, before she should embark for the West Highlands to arrange matters among her friends for our projected change of life. At the close of Autumn following she crossed the sea to meet me at Greenock, where she had scarce landed when she was seized with a malignant fever, which hurried my dear girl to the grave in a few days, before I could even hear of her illness." She was staying in Greenock with relatives while waiting to take up employment with the family of Colonel McIvor at Glasgow.

Mary Campbell died at the age of 23, around 20 October 1786, probably from Typhus contracted when nursing her brother Robert. She was buried in the old West Kirk churchyard at Greenock, in a lair owned by her host and relation Peter MacPherson.

In 1842 a monument in her memory was designed by John Mossman. A statue of her by David Watson Stevenson was also erected in 1896 at Dunoon on the Castle Hill, overlooking the Firth of Clyde. In a solemn ceremony on 13 November 1920 Mary's remains were re-interred in Greenock Cemetery under the 1842 Mossman monument moved from the old West Kirkyard.

Highland Mary Song - Information Video

Highland Mary
"Burns And Highland Mary" Thomas Faed (1826-1900), Painting, c. 1850

Dance information licensed under this Creative Commons Licence 3.0.
Text from this original Highland Mary article on Wikipedia.
Image copyright Thomas Faed, Creative Commons Licence 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

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