Please Sign In | Register
Google pluspinterestShare on Stumble UponShare on RedditFacebookShare on Tumblr
TITLE
'Burt's Letters from the North of Scotland' (4)
EXTERNAL ID
AB_LL_EDMUND_BURT_04
PLACENAME
Inverness
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
INVERNESS: Inverness and Bona
DATE OF RECORDING
2008
PERIOD
2000s
CREATOR
Edmund Burt
SOURCE
Am Baile
ASSET ID
1306
KEYWORDS
audio
literary landscapes

Get Adobe Flash player

This audio extract is from 'Burt's Letters from the North of Scotland' by Edmund Burt, first published in 1754. It is read here by Grant Butchart.

'I have seen women by the riverside washing parsnips, turnips, and herbs, in tubs, with their feet. An English lieutenant-colonel told me, that about a mile from the town he saw, at some little distance, a wench turning and twisting herself about as she stood in a little tub; and as he could perceive, being on horseback, that there was no water in it, he rode up close to her, and found she was grinding off the beards and hulls of barley with her naked feet, which barley, she said, was to make broth withall and, since that, upon inquiry, I have been told it is a common thing.

They hardly ever wear shoes, as I said before, but on a Sunday; and then, being unused to them, when they go to church they walk very awkwardly; or, as we say, 'like a cat shod with walnut shells'.

I have seen some of them come out of doors, early in a morning, with their legs covered up to the calf with dried dirt, the remains of what they contracted in the streets the day before; in short, a stranger might think there was but little occasion for strict laws against low fornication.

When they go abroad, they wear a blanket over their heads, as the poor women do, something like the pictures you may have seem of some barefooted order among the Romish priests.

And the same blanket that serves them for a mantle by day, is made a part of their bedding at night, which is generally spread upon the floor: this, I think, they call a 'shakedown'.

Edmund Burt was an Englishman sent to Scotland in 1730 to collect rents on the Glenmoriston and Seaforth estates, the last unsold estates forfeited after the 1715 rising. For most of the time he was based in Inverness from where he wrote his series of 'Letters from a gentleman in the North of Scotland to his friend in London'.

Burt felt compelled to publish the letters anonymously in 1754 whereupon he was accused of presenting the Highlands in a bad light, concentrating on the squalor and backwardness. Nevertheless, his satirical and witty accounts make for entertaining reading and his letters are an important source of information on Highland life and customs in the 18th century, written before a more romantic bias took hold.

Burt died in London in 1755.

For guidance on the use of images and other content, please see the Terms and Conditions page.
High Life Highland is a company limited by guarantee registered in Scotland No. SC407011 and is a registered Scottish charity No. SC042593
Powered by Capture

'Burt's Letters from the North of Scotland' (4)

INVERNESS: Inverness and Bona

2000s

audio; literary landscapes

Am Baile

Literary Landscapes: Edmund Burt

This audio extract is from 'Burt's Letters from the North of Scotland' by Edmund Burt, first published in 1754. It is read here by Grant Butchart.<br /> <br /> 'I have seen women by the riverside washing parsnips, turnips, and herbs, in tubs, with their feet. An English lieutenant-colonel told me, that about a mile from the town he saw, at some little distance, a wench turning and twisting herself about as she stood in a little tub; and as he could perceive, being on horseback, that there was no water in it, he rode up close to her, and found she was grinding off the beards and hulls of barley with her naked feet, which barley, she said, was to make broth withall and, since that, upon inquiry, I have been told it is a common thing.<br /> <br /> They hardly ever wear shoes, as I said before, but on a Sunday; and then, being unused to them, when they go to church they walk very awkwardly; or, as we say, 'like a cat shod with walnut shells'. <br /> <br /> I have seen some of them come out of doors, early in a morning, with their legs covered up to the calf with dried dirt, the remains of what they contracted in the streets the day before; in short, a stranger might think there was but little occasion for strict laws against low fornication.<br /> <br /> When they go abroad, they wear a blanket over their heads, as the poor women do, something like the pictures you may have seem of some barefooted order among the Romish priests.<br /> <br /> And the same blanket that serves them for a mantle by day, is made a part of their bedding at night, which is generally spread upon the floor: this, I think, they call a 'shakedown'.<br /> <br /> Edmund Burt was an Englishman sent to Scotland in 1730 to collect rents on the Glenmoriston and Seaforth estates, the last unsold estates forfeited after the 1715 rising. For most of the time he was based in Inverness from where he wrote his series of 'Letters from a gentleman in the North of Scotland to his friend in London'. <br /> <br /> Burt felt compelled to publish the letters anonymously in 1754 whereupon he was accused of presenting the Highlands in a bad light, concentrating on the squalor and backwardness. Nevertheless, his satirical and witty accounts make for entertaining reading and his letters are an important source of information on Highland life and customs in the 18th century, written before a more romantic bias took hold.<br /> <br /> Burt died in London in 1755.