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Broom o' the Cowdenknowes
The Broom o' the Cowdenknowes



"Broom of the Cowdenknowes" is a traditional Scottish love ballad. It is traceable back to the seventeenth century, but the exact origin is unknown. The title of the song references the Scotch Broom (Cytisus scoparius) flower, a vibrant yellow flower found throughout Scotland, including in Cowdenknowes, in Berwickshire, where it covered the Black and White Hills of Cowdenknowes. The original and extended ballad was the story of a young shepherdess who falls in love with a stranger on horseback, who rides by her pasture every day. The song became popular across Scotland and England towards the end of the reign of James l & VI, and the earliest publication date found is 1651. Throughout the many versions of the popular folksong, the are many lyrical variations, but the plot remain consistent. The shepardess and stranger fall in love and have an affair. when she becomes pregnant, she is banished from her country. She seeks out her lover, finding him to now be a wealthy lord. They marry, but she is never truly happy away from her own country, and she pines for "the bonnie bonnie boom".Traditionally, the song is sung from the perspective of the shepherdess. The broom, a tall shrub which blooms with spikes of small golden flowers, once grew abundantly on hillsides of the Scottish Borders.

Cowdenknowes is an old Baronial estate east of the Leader Water river just below Earlston in the Scottish Borders, 32 miles southeast of Edinburgh. Cowdenknowes and Earlston are also closely associated with Thomas the Rhymer who was from Earlston (Ersiltoun)

Broom of Cowdenknowes

How blithe each morn was I tae see 
My lass came o'er the hill 
She skipped the burn and ran tae me 
I met her with rye good will. 


O the broom, the bonnie, bonnie broom 
The broom o the Cowdenknowes 
Fain would I be in the north country 
Herding her father's ewes 

We neither herded ewes nor lamb 
While the flock near us lay 
She gathered in the sheep at night 
And cheered me all the day 


Hard fate that I should banished be 
Gone way o'er hill and moor 
Because I loved the fairest lass 
That ever yet was born 


Adieu, ye cowdenknowes, adieu 
Farewell all pleasures there 
To wander by her side again 
Is all I crave or care




Listen to a sample tune of the
"Broom of Cowdenknowes"

"The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border"
Sir Walter Scott

O the broom, and the bonny bonny broom,
And the broom of the Cowdenknows!
And aye sae sweet as the lassie sang,
I' the bought, milking the ewes.

The hills were high on ilka side,
An' the bought i' the lirk o' the hill,
And aye, as she sang, her voice it rang,
Out o'er the head o' yon hill.

There was a troop o' gentlemen
Came riding merrilie by,
And one o' them has rode out o' the way,
To the bought to the bonny may.

"Weel may ye save an' see bonny lass,
An' weel may ye save an' see."
"An sae wi' you, ye weel-bred knight,
And what's your will wi' me?"

"The night is misty and mirk, fair may,
And I have ridden astray,
And will you be so kind, fair may,
As come out and point my way?"

"Ride out, ride out, ye ramp rider!
Your steed's baith stout and strang;
For out of the bought I dare na come,
For fear 'at ye do me wrang."

"O winna ye pity me, bonny lass,
O winna ye pity me?
An' winna ye pity my poor steed,
Stands trembling at yon tree?"

"I wadna pity your poor steed,
Though it were tied to a thorn;
For if ye wad gain my love the night,
Ye wad slight me ere the morn.

"For I ken you by your weel-busket hat,
And your merry twinkling ee,
That ye're the Laird o' the Oakland hills,
An' ye may weel seem for to be."

"But I am not the Laird o' the Oakland hills,
Ye're far mista'en o' me;
But I'm ane o' the men about his house,
An' right aft in his companie."

He's ta'en her by the middle jimp,
And by the grass-green sleeve;
He's lifted her over the fauld-dyke,
And speer'd at her sma' leave.

O he's ta'en out a purse o' gowd,
And streek'd her yellow hair,
"Now, take ye that, my bonny may
Of me till you hear mair."

O he's leap'd on his berry-brown steed,
And soon he's o'erta'en his men;
And ane and a' cried out to him,
"O master, ye've tarry'd lang!"
O I hae been east, and I hae been west, 
And' I hae been far o'er the knowes,
But the bonniest lass that ever I saw
Is i' the bought, milking the ewes."

She set the cog upon her head,
An' she's gane singing hame
"O where hae ye been, my ae daughter?
Ye hae na been your lane."

O naebody was wi' me , father,
O naebody has been wi' me;
The night is misty and mirk, father,
Ye may gang to the door and see.

"But wae be to your ewe-herd, father,
And an ill deed may he die;
He bug the bought at the back o' the knowe, 
And a tod has frighted me.

"There came a tod to the bought door,
The like I never saw;
And e'er he had ta'en the lamb he did,
I had lourd he had ta'en them a'."

O whan fifteen weeks was come and gane,
Fifteen weeks and three,
That lassie began to look thin and pale,
An' to long for his merry-twinkling ee.

It fell on a day, on a het simmer day,
She was ca'ing out her father's kye,
Bye came a troop o' gentlemen,
A' merrilie riding bye.

"Weel may ye save an' see, bonny may,
Weel may ye save and see!
Weel I wat ye be a very bonny may,
But whae's aught that babe ye are wi'?"

Never a word could that lassie say,
For never a ane could she blame,
An' never a word could the lassie say,
But "I have a gudeman at hame."

"Ye lied, ye lied, my very bonny may,
Sae loud as I hear you lie;
For dinna ye mind that misty night
I was i' the bought wi' thee?

"I ken you by your middle sae jimp
An' your merry-twinkling ee,
That ye're the bonny lass i' the Cowdenknow,
An' ye may weel seem for to be."

Then he's leapt off his berry-brown steed,
An' he's set that fair may on
"Ca' out your kye, gude father, yourself,
For she's never ca' them out again.

"I am the Laird of the Oakland hills,
I hae thirty plows and three;
An' I hae gotten the bonniest lass
That's in a' the south countrie."



Valery & Natalie Yegorov
Valery & Natalie Yegorov



Arms of the Greater Russian Empire


Valery Yegorov

The Russian College of Heraldry, more customarily called in Latin COLLEGIUM HERALDICUM RUSSIAE (CHR) - was re-established in 1991 under the high patronage of His Imperial Highness The Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich, in his capacity then as Head of the Russian Imperial House of Romanov. Being afterwards duly registered with Russia's Ministry of Justice, the CHR is now the sole non-governmental heraldic body legitimately entitled, in accordance with it's Statutes, "To create, produce, register, and publish coats of arms for individuals and corporations".

images/stories/yeg-leftarms.jpg images/stories/yeg-rightarms.jpg
Armorial Bearing of CMDR
Valery Yegorov, Hon SHA
St Andrew principle Herald master
to the Russian College of Arms
Vice President of the
Russina Heraldry Society
Armorial Bearings of
Natalie Yegorov, Hon SHA
St Catherine Herald of Arms
Principle Herald Artist to the
Russian College of Arms

Armorial Bearings and Standard of
Much Honoured Eur Ing David Arye of Kilmarnock
Baron of Kilmarnock
(This rendition was created jointly by Valery and Natalie
and is displayed with kind permission of Kilmarnock)

images/stories/yeg-no3.jpg images/stories/yeg-no1.jpg

images/stories/yeg-boubouleix em (small).jpg


Commander Valery & Natalie Yegorov,

of the Russian College of Heraldry,

have recently terminated thier activities

and retired from the field of Heraldry.

We wish them well in their well-deserved



The Late
Romilly Squire of Rubislaw
Armorial Bearings of
Romilly Squire of Rubislaw

images/stories/rom-saint.gif images/stories/rom-belguin.gif
Saint Belgium Armorial

images/stories/rom-stjohn.gif images/stories/rom-squirebookplate.gif
Priory of Scotland of the most
Venerable Order of the Hospital
of Saint John of Jerusalem
Book plate of
Romilly Squire of Rubislaw

Romilly Squire of Rubislaw

Beginners Heraldry

Beginners Heraldry
Mark J. Harden of Cowdenknowes

The first point that should be made about heraldry is that there is no such thing as a “Family Coat of Arms”. This is a form of marketing used by the “Heraldry for Sale” bucket shops and websites that are becoming a common sight, both on the internet and at highland games all over the world. Armorial bearings, which is a more formal description of a coat of arms, are, at least in Scotland, the personal property of one person only. Displaying arms which are not registered to you, or which you do not have a right to, can lead to prosecution in countries such as Scotland, where heraldry is carefully regulated. In other countries you could just look foolish.

In Scotland all things armorial are governed by the laws of arms administered by the Court of the Lord Lyon. The origin of the office of Lord Lyon is shrouded in the mists of history, but various Acts of Parliament, especially those of 1592 and 1672 supplement the established authority of Lord Lyon and his brother heralds. The Lord Lyon is a great officer of state and has a dual capacity, both ministerial and judicial. In his ministerial capacity, he acts as heraldic advisor to the Sovereign, appoints messengers-at-arms, conducts national ceremony and grants arms. In his judicial role, he decides on questions of succession, authorizes the matriculation of arms, registers pedigrees, which are often used as evidence in the matter of succession to peerages, and of course judges in cases when the Procurator Fiscal prosecutes someone for the wrongful use of arms.

Arms should not be used in Scotland unless they are recorded in the Register of all Arms and Bearings in Scotland. Armorial bearings can be acquired by petitioning the Lord Lyon, but only if you come within his jurisdiction (http://www.lyon-court.com/). However, in England you would approach the College of Arms (http://www.college-of-arms.gov.uk/).

A person who has arms is called an armiger (figs1 & 3) and his family is considered armigerous. Men bear their arms on a shield and women on a lozenge or more recently on an oval, although this is not a binding rule.  A woman usually uses her husband’s arms on a shield (fig1) while he is alive and on an oval or lozenge (fig2) after his death. A daughter may also use her father’s arms on an oval or lozenge (fig2). If a daughter marries an armigerous man, she may impale her arms with his (fig4); the impaled arms are usually displayed on a shield, but to be absolutely correct the wife would use a lozenge. If she is an heraldic heiress, that is she has no brothers, her children may then quarter their father’s and mother’s arms together (fig4a).

 images/stories/fig1.jpg  images/stories/fig2.jpg  images/stories/fig3.jpg  images/stories/fig4.jpg  images/stories/fig4a.jpg
fig 1 fig 2 fig 3 fig 4 fig 4a

The next member of an armiger’s family with a right to bear their father’s arms is the heir; this is the person who will inherit the arms on the death of the armiger, usually the eldest son, unless specified otherwise in the Letters Patent. The heir has the right to use and display the arms but must display them differenced by a label of three points (figs 5,6 & 7). This label stays on the heir’s arms during the lifetime of the holder. This shows that he is the heir and that the holder is still living; the label is simply removed when the heir inherits. The label can be of any design or colour as long as it is clearly visible upon the arms.

 images/stories/fig5.jpg  images/stories/fig6.jpg  images/stories/fig7.jpg
fig 5 fig 6 fig 7

According to the Scottish laws of heraldry, a younger son has no right to his father’s arms but must petition to matriculate from those of his father for his own arms, which will be differenced from his father’s. This differencing is often done with a bordure, according to the Stodart system, depending on the birth order of the son: the second son would have a bordure Or (gold), the third Argent (silver), the fourth Gules (red), the fifth Azure (blue) and the sixth Sable (black). It is possible also to difference by the addition of a charge, perhaps from the mother’s arms, or by changing the partition lines from perhaps straight to, for example, engrailed.

 images/stories/or.jpg  images/stories/argent.jpg  images/stories/gules.jpg  images/stories/azure.jpg  images/stories/sable.jpg
Bordure Or Bordure Argent Bordure Gules Bordure Azure Bordure Sable

Any descendant may choose to vary the crest and motto. The original motto would have been chosen at the time of the grant and might well say something about the family. The crest, which is mounted on top of the helmet, would also have done the same but in a symbolic way. Each matriculant can change these two parts of the achievement to refer to himself.


As mentioned earlier, the armorial bearings are the personal property of the armiger and are protected by law. The arms can be used in many ways (fig 8), such as on silver, stationery, cups, T-shirts, badges, caps, plaques, banners and just about anything else. It is well worth checking with your heraldic authority before making any banners as the size of a banner may be regulated. Bearing arms is an honour and people who bear arms have something to be proud of; armigers are encouraged to display them in every way they can.


If you have an ancestor who resided in the colonies while your colony was under the jurisdiction of the British crown, ie prior to September 1783 for the USA, and you are a descendant in the male line of that ancestor, then you can petition the Lord Lyon for a grant of arms in memory of that ancestor and also to matriculate those arms, suitably differenced for yourself.

My thanks to Raymond S. Morris of Balgonie and Eddergoll for the use of his and his family's arms.

Harden Heraldry

Heraldry of the
Harden's of Cowdenknowes

images/stories/revised_harden_arms (mobile).jpg 

Armorial Achievement of
The Much Honoured
Mark John Harden of Cowdenknowes
Baron of Cowdenknowes

(Painted by Natalie Yegorova,
 Principal Heraldic Artist to the Russian College of Heraldry)

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Letters patent

The Lord Lyon, King of Arms, In recognition of Barry George Harden, then Baron of Cowdenknowes (1), has by Letters Patent, Granted the following Armorial bearings, Standard, Badge and Crest to the former Baron and his descendants in the Barony.

Arms: Azure, on a fess embattled, counter-embattled Gules fimbriated Or between in chief three flowers of Cytisus Proper and in base a horse salient, a cross crosslet Argent. Above the shield, behind which is draped his feudo-baronial mantle doubled of silk Argent, fur-edged of miniver and collar Ermine and fastened on the right shoulder by five spherical buttons Or, is placed a chapeau Gules furred Ermine, thereon an Helm befitting his degree with a Mantling Azure doubled Argent.

Crest: On a Wreath of the Liveries is set for Crest a Demi-horse Argent.


Badge: A cross crosslet Argent within a circlet of Cytisus Proper

Standard: Said Badge is depicted in the first and third compartments and the said Crest in the centre compartment upon a Standard three and a half metres in length of four tracts Azure and Argent, split at the end, having said Arms in the hoist, with the motto "Sapientia cursus vires" in letters Or upon two traverse bands Gules.


 (1) Although the letters patent are recorded in the name of Barry Harden, the barony orginally came into the possession of the current baron, Mark Harden of Cowdenknowes, with whom it has remained. Through a family arrangement and with approval of the Lyon Court, it was recorded and letters patent granted first to Barry Harden and then descended down through the normal process and as stated in the letters patent when Barry Harden passed.

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