Duncan Williamson

Duncan Williamson was born in a bow tent on the shores of Loch Fyne in 1928, the seventh of sixteen children. At fifteen he began a traveller's life working alongside dry-stane dykers and thatchers, learning the craft of a horsieman and earning his way in the scrap metal trade. His traditional tales and ballads, transcribed for publication by his second wife Linda, have brought him widespread fame with invitations from far and wide. Until his death in 2008 he lived, in his latter years, in Ladybank in Fife. Here he sings his rather fine version of the ancient John Barleycorn - a symbolic song representing the growth and cutting down of corn in the person of John Barleycorn - a song that has been collected many times in England, was known to Robert Burns and which first appears in the Scottish Bannatyne manuscript of 1568.

Obituary: Duncan Williamson (d. 8 November 2007)