Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

Scotland's Burning

Also Known As London's Burning

Scotland's Burning (also known as Scotland, It Burneth or in England as London's Burning) are variants of a song and nursery rhyme popular with children.

The songs can be sung as a round when each part starts two bars after the previous one. It may be an example of a nursery rhyme with tragic or violent themes.

The Scotland lyrics are said to be about the Burning of Edinburgh in 1544, ordered by Henry VIII of England.

Scotland, It Burneth may be found in The Lant Manuscript "KC 1", in the Kings College Library at Cambridge University dated 1580.

The London lyrics are said to be about Great Fire of London, a five-day fire in the city of London in 1666 although they contain an anachronistic reference to fire engines ("fetch the engines"). The first notation of a round in this theme dates from 1580.

The lyrics are mentioned in William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, written between 1590 and 1592, Act 4, scene 1, when Grumio asks Curtis to prepare a warm fire for guests.

Related Scottish Country Dances

London's Burning

Scotland's Burning

Scotland, it burneth,
Look out, look out,
Fire fire, fire fire,
Cast on more water.

Scotland's Burning - Popular Variation

Scotland's Burning, Scotland's Burning.
Look out, look out,
Fire fire, fire fire,
Pour on water, pour on water.

London's Burning

London's burning, London's burning.
Fetch the engines, fetch the engines.
Fire fire, Fire Fire!
Pour on water, pour on water.

Scotland's Burning Song Video

Scotland's Burning Song - Information Video
Scotland's Burning Image
Scotland's Burning - Four Voice Round Variant From 1580

Dance information licensed under this Creative Commons Licence.
Text from this original Scotland's Burning article on Wikipedia.
Image copyright Traditional / Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Back to the top of this 'Scotland's Burning Song' page