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Lock the Door Lariston

Scottish folk song

Lock the Door Lariston is a spirited Scottish song about the wars that took place on the Scottish-English border between the 13th and 17th centuries. There, the warlike clans raided, fought and skirmished constantly, resulting in a land that had little peace or security. Many border men knew only a life of peril and combat.

The fierce clansmen of the borderlands resisted Anglicanism longer than elsewhere. In 1565 Bishop Leslie of Ross said of the border reivers (raiders) that "To their credit, they follow not the heretical secession from the Holy Church." Only after the union of the Scottish and English kingdoms did severe measures put a stop to the fighting.

Lock the Door Lariston was composed by the Scottish poet James Hogg, also known as The Ettrick Shepherd. Many of the places and surnames appearing in the song were well known in the border regions. Alive with Scottish prose, this song follows the old convention of calling a chieftain by his land of residence.


Lock the door Lariston, Lion o' Liddesdale,
Lock the door Lariston, Lowther comes on,
The Armstrongs are flyin' the widows are cryin',
Castletown is burnin' and Oliver is gone.

Lock the door Lariston, high on the weather gleam,
See how the Saxon plumes, they bob on the sky,
Yeoman and carbinier, billman and halberdier,
Fierce is the battle and far is the cry.

Newcastle brandishes high his broad scimitar,
Ridley is riding his fleet-footed grey,
Hidley and Howard there, Wandel O' Windermere,
Lock the door Lariston, hold them at bay.

Why dae ye smile noble Elliot O'Lariston?
Why does the joy candle gleam in your eye?
You bold Border ranger, beware o' your danger,
Your foes are relentless, determined and nigh.

I hae Mangerton and Ogilvie, Raeburn and Netherby,
Old Sym O'Whitram and a' his array,
Come all Northumberland Teesdale and Cumberland,
Here at the Breaken Tower end the affray.

See how they wane the proud file o' the Windermere,
Howard a woe tae yer hopes o' the day.
Hear the rude welkin rend,
While the Scots' shouts ascend,
Elliot O'Lariston! Elliot for aye!

Lock the door Lariston

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