The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian



THE GULE.—Some years ago there was a discussion in a provincial paper in the north of Scotland upon the origin and meaning of the following popular rhyme:—

"The gule of the Garioch,
And the Bowman of Mar,—
They met on Bennachie;
The gule wan the war."

[..] The gule is a weed (wild mustard) too well known in many parts of the country, although, perhaps, it is more generally known by other names. It is also pronounced gwele, and is derived from the same root as gold, gild, gelt, i.e. from the root of yellow, and signifies the yellow plant—a name to which it is well entitled, for it too often covers the green corn-field with a blaze of gold. Another rhyme of the " north countrie " also mentions it, characterizing it as one of the pests of an agricultural country:—

"The gule, the Gordon, and the hoodie-craw
Are the three worst enemies Moray ever saw."

Bowman is an old Scotch word for farmer, from boo, boll, or bow, a farm-house (originally of a dairy or pasture farm), derived probably from Gael. 'bo' - cows, cattle. This root occurs very frequently in place-names in the north, as in Eastern and Western Bo, Lingambo, Delnabo, Lochnabo.[..]

Mar and the Garioch (pronounced Gary) are two districts of Aberdeenshire, separated from each other in part by the hill range of Bennachie, with its lofty and picturesque pinnacles of rock. I would, therefore, interpret the rhyme as follows:— There was a time when the gule was prevalent in the Garioch, but had not yet spread into Mar. The agricultural mind of the latter district was alive to the fact and the danger, and used every means to prevent its encroaching. The representative bowman, armed, with full powers, stood, as it were, on Bennachie, on the march of his own territory, to meet and drive back the insidious attacks of the enemy, but in vain,—the gule won the war.
X. X.
Notes and Queries X. X. s4-XII (298): 206. (1873).

Maybe this is pertinent as it is to do with boundaries and agriculture. Or maybe not.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
21st October 2006ce
Edited 21st October 2006ce

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