The Border Ballads

Author Event

As the nights draw in, do join us at Mainstreet to hear all about our local literary star, Thomas the Rhymer. Singer Poppy Holden will explore the medieval account of Thomas and how the seemingly inexplicable events of the story can be linked to the real-world geography and history of the Scottish Borders.

Thomas was a writer who lived near Melrose in the thirteenth century. The richly detailed ballad about his adventure with the beautiful, bold, generous Queen of Elfland may have been written by Thomas himself: the earliest manuscript dates from the 1420s, but scholars believe the ballad is earlier in origin. According to the story, Thomas travelled through the Eildon Hills with the Queen of Elfland, and was away from home for three days in elf time, or three of our years. When she brought him home, the Queen gave him the gift of prophecy as a memento.

Poppy’s talk is illustrated with pictures of the landscape and with thirteenth-century manuscript images of scenes described in the ballad. The book of the talk is beautifully illustrated by Chris Daunt, the master wood engraver. 

Author event

Tue 23rd Oct 2018
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