The Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond

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View of the Loch Lomond area, December 2005

"The Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond", or "Loch Lomond" for short, is a Scottish song (Roud No. 9598).[1][2] The song prominently features Loch Lomond, the largest Scottish loch, located between the council areas of West Dunbartonshire, Stirling and Argyll and Bute. In Scots, "bonnie" means "attractive", "beloved", or "dear".[3]


By yon bonnie banks and by yon bonnie braes,
Where the sun shines bright on Loch Lomond,
Where me and my true love were ever wont to gae,
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o' Loch Lomond.

O ye'll tak' the high road, and I'll tak' the low road,
And I'll be in Scotland afore ye,
But me and my true love will never meet again,
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o' Loch Lomond.

'Twas there that we parted, in yon shady glen,
On the steep, steep side o' Ben Lomond,
Where in soft purple hue, the highland hills we view,
And the moon coming out in the gloaming.


The wee birdies sing and the wildflowers spring,
And in sunshine the waters are sleeping.
But the broken heart it kens nae second spring again,
Though the waeful may cease frae their grieving.



Historian Murray G. H. Pittock writes that the song "is a Jacobite adaptation of an eighteenth-century erotic song, with the lover dying for his king, and taking only the 'low road' of death back to Scotland."[4] It is one of many poems and songs that emerged from Jacobite political culture in Scotland.[4]

Andrew Lang[edit]

About 1876, the Scottish poet and folklorist Andrew Lang wrote a poem based on the song titled "The Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond".[5][6] The title sometimes has the date "1746" appended[7][8]—the year of the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie's rebellion and the hanging of some of his captured supporters. Lang's poem begins

There's an ending o' the dance, and fair Morag's safe in France,
And the Clans they hae paid the lawing,

Morag—great one in Gaelic—referred to Bonnie Prince Charlie, who fled to France after his forces were defeated.[9] Lawing means reckoning in Scots. The poem continues:

And the wuddy has her ain, and we twa are left alane,
Free o' Carlisle gaol in the dawing.

Wuddy means hangman's rope, according to Lang's own notes on the poem; dawing is dawn.[10] The poem continues with the song's well-known chorus, then explains why the narrator and his true love will never meet again:

For my love's heart brake in twa, when she kenned the Cause's fa',
And she sleeps where there's never nane shall waken

The poem's narrator vows to take violent revenge on the English:

While there's heather on the hill shall my vengeance ne'er be still,
While a bush hides the glint o' a gun, lad;
Wi' the men o' Sergeant Môr shall I work to pay the score,
Till I wither on the wuddy in the sun, lad!

"Sergeant Môr" is John Du Cameron, a supporter of Bonnie Prince Charlie who continued fighting as an outlaw until he was hanged in 1753.[10]

Irish variant[edit]

The Irish variant of the song is called "Red Is the Rose" and is sung with the same melody but different (although similarly themed) lyrics.[11] It was popularized by Irish folk musician Tommy Makem. Even though many people mistakenly believe that Makem wrote "Red Is the Rose", it is a traditional Irish folk song.[12][13]

Arrangements and recordings[edit]

"Loch Lomond" has been arranged and recorded by many composers and performers over the years, in several genres ranging from traditional Scottish folk to barbershop to rock and roll.[2]

Classical music[edit]

Ralph Vaughan Williams made an arrangement for baritone solo and unaccompanied male choir in 1921. It has been recorded several times, notably by the tenor Ian Partridge and the London Madrigal Singers for EMI in 1970.[14]

Popular music[edit]

Scottish folk-rock band Runrig have made the song their unofficial anthem, closing their concerts with a rendition for over 25 years. Two verses of the song and the chorus are now a favourite anthem of the supporters of the Scotland rugby team and also of the Tartan Army, the supporters of the Scotland football team, and as such are fixtures including at the respective teams' home games at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh and Hampden Park in Glasgow. One re-recorded version in 2007 for BBC Children in Need that featured both Runrig and the Tartan Army peaked at number nine on the UK Singles Chart and number one in Scotland.[15][16] In April 2022, their recording was certified silver by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for sales and streams exceeding 200,000 units.[17] Possibly taking a cue from Runrig, and sung at a faster marching pace, the original sad lament is enthusiastically bellowed out by thousands of Scots to celebrate a score and to spur on the team.[18]

Chinese singer-songwriter Li Jian used the melody[19] with Mandarin lyrics of a similar theme in his self-titled 2015 album.

Australian rock band AC/DC covered this song, titled "Fling Thing", as the B-side to their single "Jailbreak". They also covered it (as "Bonny") in Glasgow on the collector's edition of their 1992 album AC/DC Live. "Fling Thing" was later remastered and released on the compilation album Backtracks.


The Jazz Discography, an online index of studio recordings, live recordings, and broadcast transcriptions of jazz – as of May 22, 2019 – lists 106 recordings of "Loch Lomond" and one recording of "Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond".

A notable big band version of "Loch Lomond", arranged by Claude Thornhill, was recorded in a live performance on January 16, 1938, by the Benny Goodman and His Orchestra on the album, The Famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert, on January 16, 1938, featuring Martha Tilton on vocals (Columbia SL 160).

Jazz singer Maxine Sullivan, for whom it was a career-defining hit, recorded it at least 14 times:

Her first on August 6, 1937, with Claude Thornhill (piano), Frankie Newton (trumpet), Buster Bailey (clarinet), Pete Brown (alto sax), Babe Russin (tenor sax), John Kirby (bass), and O'Neil Spencer (drums) (matrix 21472-1; Vocalion-OKeh 364); and
Her last, in a live performance at the Fujitsu-Concord Jazz Festival in Tokyo, on September 28, 1986, with the Scott Hamilton Quintet. It was her second to last recording.[20] She died 6 months later, on April 7, 1987.

TV and film[edit]

The song is frequently used in TV and movies to convey a sense of Scottish story setting and/or character identity.

In Our Gang Follies of 1938, an American short musical film by Hal Roach, Annabelle Logan sings a rendition of "Loch Lomond" at the local talent show.[21]

In the 1945 Sherlock Holmes film Pursuit to Algiers, starring Basil Rathbone, Dr. Watson (Nigel Bruce) sings a rendition of "Loch Lomond" accompanied by Sheila Woodbury (Marjorie Riordan) on the piano.

In the 1955 Disney animated classic Lady and the Tramp, one of its characters, Jock, a Scottish terrier, sings his own version of "The Bonnie Banks Of Loch Lomond" when he buries a new bone "in [his] bonnie, bonnie bank in the back yard".

In the 1958 Tom and Jerry short Robin Hoodwinked, Nibbles sings the first half of the chorus of "Loch Lomond".[22][23]

The song is heard in the 1963 Disney film The Three Lives of Thomasina.

The Marcia Blane music class is heard singing the song in the background in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

A recording of a Scotsman singing the song in captivity during the First World War featured in the 2007 BBC documentary How the Edwardians Spoke.[24]

In the children's cartoon, Animaniacs, it is heard in "Ups and Downs" as Wakko and Dr. Scratchansniff ride the elevator.[25][citation needed] It is also heard in the Animaniacs feature film Wakko's Wish.

In the 2021 film A Castle for Christmas it is sung by the cast during a pub scene.

In the American TV series The Simpsons, Groundskeeper Willie whistles the melody in the episode "Lard of the Dance".

In the Hal Roach short comedy film Tit for Tat, Stan Laurel sings a verse of this song after Oliver Hardy declares in a verbal altercation with his neighbor that he will take the "high road" and walk away.

In Smallville Season 7 Episode 19, the tune is featured under the title "The Birks of St Kilde." It is played by a grandfather clock and later by Lex Luthor on the piano as he quotes alternative plot-important lyrics: "On the shores of St Kilde, birks sway in the wind from the left to the right again."

In the 2000 movie Prince of Central Park J.J. Somerled, played the song in keyboard while Jerry Orbach as a businessman, sang the song.

In The Office Season 8 Episode 20 "Welcome Party" Andy sings an excerpt from the song.


  1. ^ Vocal Melodies of Scotland
  2. ^ a b Fuld, James Jeffrey (1966). The Book of World-Famous Music: Classical, Popular, and Folk. Crown. pp. 336 & 337. OCLC 637942931.
  3. ^ "Dictionars o the Scots Leid". Retrieved 14 May 2021.
  4. ^ a b Murray G. H. Pittock, Poetry and Jacobite Politics in Eighteenth-Century Britain and Ireland (Cambridge University Press, 1994), pp. 136–137.
  5. ^ "The Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond" see also; from The Poetical Works of Andrew Lang, ed. Mrs. Lang, four vols. (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1923): I, 55–56
  6. ^ Andrew Lang (1844-1912) -- The Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond
  7. ^ Poems of Andrew Lang: THE BONNIE BANKS O' LOCH LOMOND
  8. ^ Lang, Andrew (2000). Peter-Eric Philipp (ed.). The Complete Poems of Andrew Lang. Vol. 2. Xlibris. p. 235.
  9. ^ Am Baile – The Songs and Hymns of the Scottish Highlands. Part II Song 5
  10. ^ a b RPO – Andrew Lang : The Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond Archived 2009-01-29 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "Red is the Rose". Jennifer Tyson. Retrieved 3 August 2013.
  12. ^ "Irish love song Red is the Rose". Irish Music Daily. Archived from the original on 11 February 2024. Retrieved 11 February 2024. Makem said he learned the song from his mother, Sarah, who was a well known singer and folk song collector from Armagh in Northern Ireland. ... A recording of Red is the Rose that was made in 1934 by Josephine Beirne and George Sweatman under the title, My Bonnie Irish Lass
  13. ^ Raymond Crooke (12 January 2009). "690. Red is the Rose (Traditional Irish)". YouTube. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021. Retrieved 3 August 2013.[unreliable source]
  14. ^ "Loch Lomond (Volkslieder (Folksongs), set by (Ralph Vaughan Williams)) (The LiederNet Archive: Texts and Translations to Lieder, mélodies, canzoni, and other classical vocal music)".
  15. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100 18 November 2007 - 24 November 2007". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  16. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100 18 November 2007 - 24 November 2007". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  17. ^ "British single certifications – Runrig/The Tartan Army – Loch Lomond". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 19 April 2022.
  18. ^ TV or radio broadcasts of any Scotland home game at Murrayfield or Hampden Park from 2017, and possibly earlier
  19. ^ 消失的月光, retrieved 25 April 2023
  20. ^ "Flow Sweetly, Sweet Rhythm: The Maxine Sullivan Story". By Jan Souther (pseudonym of Rev. Thomas Francis Carten, C.S.C., Alumni Chaplin, Kings College; born 1942), The Sunday Voice (magazine of the Citizens' Voice). June 15, 2008, p. D6 (accessible via (subscription required))
  21. ^ Demoss, Robert (9 November 2008). "The Lucky Corner: Our Gang Follies of 1938". Retrieved 26 December 2021.
  22. ^ "Robin Hoodwinked". Dr. Grob's Animation Review. 25 November 2019. Retrieved 3 May 2024.
  23. ^ "Tom and Jerry "Robin Hoodwinked" Tuffy Production Cel (MGM, 1958)". Heritage Auctions. Retrieved 3 May 2024.
  24. ^ How the Edwardians Spoke (TV Movie 2007) - IMDb, 6 May 2007, retrieved 23 April 2021
  25. ^ "Ups and Downs / The Brave Little Trailer / Yes, Always". B98.TV. Retrieved 13 September 2022.

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