Tam Lin is an old fairy ballad from the borderlands of Scotland, concerning a mortal woman who encounters a man in a forbidden forest. When she finds herself with child, she learns he is a mortal man, captive to the faeries and at risk for sacrifice as their tribute to hell. To rescue him, she must go to the woods at midnight on Halloween and pull him from horse as the faerie troop passes by. Then she hold onto him as he is transformed into a variety of beasts, or fire, or other dangers. She does so, and at the end of the tale, the Faerie Queen speaks her wrath at the departed man, wishing she'd taken out his eyes or his heart to prevent his rescue.
Tam Lin has been a beloved tale for centuries, both because of the magic in the tale, and because it is a traditional tale centered on female daring and bravery. Some versions of the ballad date back centuries, while others are still being written today. The story has also grown well outside the traditional format, and can be found in stories, plays, artwork, and other forms.
This website is intended to give those interested in the story of Tam Lin a place to learn more about the history and forms of the story.
Recent Site News
- Added Reference list, listing and examination of Tam Lin in anthologies, articles, and dissertations
- Added Fiction list, listing and commentary on Tam Lin retellings in prose and play
- Added Doug Bischoff version to the collection
- Added William Aytoun version to the collection.
- Added Transformative section for Artwork and Fanfiction
- Added Library section for books and reference information
- Added Music sections for musical notation, listing of recordings, and links to performances. Still working on this a bit.
Non-site Tam Lin News
If you're on Tumblr, this month is Tam Lin October, for community blogging of books, art, and other Tam Lin related material
What This Website Covers
- Analysis of the Ballad - examination of variations, symbols, and relationships between versions.
- Versions of the Ballad - Ballad versions of Tam Lin in written format. These are either from traditional ballad collections or from versions performed by modern performers that illustrate interesting changes or interpretations of the story.
- Scotland - Tracing the history of the story in its country of origin, examining Carterhaugh, the families mentioned in the tales, and the places where Tam Lin was recorded.
- Stories - provides examples and analysis of closely related tales, such as Thomas the Rhymer, Beauty and the Beast, and The Knight and the Shepherd's Daughter
- Library - resources and reference information on the ballad, including texts from Child, Lang, and Scott, as well as many others. Listing of Tam Lin in reference material and guides and reviews of published works based on Tam Lin
- Music - explores the historic tunes associated with the ballad, listing of known recordings, and links to videos of performance of the ballad
- Transformed - fanfic, artwork, videos, and other works based on the ballad.
If you're not certain where to look, try the sitemap for a listing of all current pages.
Want to help or follow along?
If you have any questions, corrections, or contributions, communication is always welcome.