Tam Lin Balladry

A website of folklore and discovery.

Versions of the Ballad of Tam Lin

The Current Collection

What Makes a Version

There are many versions of Tam Lin. The ballad is known to have existed in the Scottish border lands for hundreds of years. More recently it has spread in both folk revival and folk rock circles. This website does not claim to have every version of Tam Lin, but should represents a good starting point for understanding the ballad and its variations.

Child numbers refer to versions from The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, by Francis James Child. Other versions are named either by the book in which they were found or the performer who wrote that version.

Versions are numbered as added to the website.


  1. Child Ballad 39A, source cited Johnson's Museum as the source, 1792
  2. Child Ballad 39B source cited as Glenriddle MS. vol xi, no 17, 1791
  3. Child Ballad 39C, source cited as The Ancient and Modern Scots Songs, 1769
  4. Child Ballad 39D, sources cited are Motherwell's MS., Maidment's New Book of Old Ballads, and Pitcairn's MSS.
  5. Child Ballad 39E, source cited as Motherwell's Note-Book
  6. Child Ballad 39F, source cited as Motherwell's MS.
  7. Child Ballad 39G, sources cited are Buchan's MSS, Motherwell's MS, and Dixon, Scottish Traditionary Versions of Ancient Ballads, Percy Society
  8. Child Ballad 39H, source cited as Campell MSS.
  9. Child Ballad 39I, source cited as Ministrelsy of the Scottish Border by Sir Walter Scott
  10. Child Ballad 39J, from the additions and corrections to the original set. Source cited is MacMath ms 1886
  11. Child Ballad 39K, source cited is Communication to Scott, 1812
  12. Child's Notes contained enough variant verses to make another version
    Included in Child's notes, along with a number of variant verses and fragments, were three other versions of Tam Lin, which are either highly fragmented or mixed with other tales, and are therefore not listed with the main versions.
  13. B. H. Bronson presented this version in The Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads
  14. J. Holm created a version
  15. Digital Traditions Database version, cites Michael Cooney, probably also from The Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads
  16. The SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) version
  17. Steeleye Span from album Tonight's the Night
  18. Fairport Convention, on the album Liege and Lief
  19. R. J. Stewart from The Secret Commonwealth of Elves Fauns and Faeries
  20. The Watersons from album For Pence and Spicey Ale
  21. Frankie Armstrong from album I Heard A Woman Singing
  22. Joseph Kesselman performs the following version.
  23. The Greig Duncan folksong index.
  24. The Oxford Book of Ballads
  25. Dave and Toni Arthur from album Hearken to the Witch's Rune.
  26. Anne Briggs from the album Anne Briggs: A Collection
  27. Rick Lee from the album Natick
  28. Pete Morton from the album Frivolous Love
  29. Milan Jovanovic provided this version
  30. The Tam Lin Movie (1970) version of Tam Lin included this version by the group Pentangle.
  31. Pyewackett from the album The Man In The Moon Drinks Claret
  32. Broadside Electricfrom the album Amplificata
  33. MacMath, from the Mansfield Manuscript
  34. EScotland, from the electronic Scotland website.
  35. Mediaeval Baebes from the album Mirabilis
  36. Ewan MacColl from the album Cold Snap
  37. Geordie McIntyre from the album Ballad Tree
  38. Alastair McDonald from the album Heroes & Legends of Scotland
  39. David Nipperess performs this version, album unknown
  40. Tricky Pixie from the album Mythcreants
  41. Benjamin Zephaniah from the album The Imagined Village
  42. Doug Bischoff performs this version, album unknown
  43. William Aytoun collated this version for The Ballad of Scotland, Vol. II
  44. Anaïs Mitchell from the album Child Ballads
  45. Andrew Crawfurd's Ballad 86, "A Fairie Sang", from Andrew Crawfurd's Collections of Ballads and Songs, edited by E. B. Lyle, Vol II, 1996. Source cited is Thomas MacQueen, 1827.
  46. Andrew Crawfurd's Ballad 99, "Janet and Tam Blain", from Andrew Crawfurd's Collections of Ballads and Songs, edited by E. B. Lyle, Vol II, 1996. Source cited is Thomas MacQueen, 1827.

Notes on versions

♪- indicated version where a video or music file is available on this site.

* Child's notes: The notes contain a lot of information regarding small alterations in the ballads, as well as several verses that were not assigned their own version, in some cases containing more material than in named versions. I've combined them for presentation purposes