Lady Finella – Lyrics

Written by Iona Fyfe

LYRICS

Lady Finella she drinks at the wine,
Lamentin fur her son
He wis killed by the King o auld Scotland
Fur aa that he hid done, fur aa that he hid done

Fae the Dee tae the Esk, her faither he ruled.
She bein o high degree
She’s set a plan fur tae get her revenge,
King Kenneth he maun dee, King Kenneth he maun dee

King Kenneth wis chynging the laws o the lan,
His son maun tak the throne
Bit aa the Kings faimily, they taen ill wi this,
And they raid tae Finella’s home, they raid tae Finella’s home

“Oh Lady Finella, we heard o yer son
An foo his bleed wis spilt
And we’ve baith been wranged by King Kenneth oursels
Fur this we wint him kilt, fur this we wint him kilt”

Syne atween them aa they set the plot
Forgiveness she wid feign
She’d invite him tae her lan tae hunt
An afore lang, he’d be slain, afore lang he’d be slain

Sae they hunted, then feasted and drank at the wine
She whispered in his ear
“I ken o a ploy tae assassinate you
The truth tae you I sweir, the truth tae you I sweir”

“Let bygones be bygones, though ma son ye kilt
His sins they werena few
Oh gin ye cam up tae ma bed chaumer
Some names I’ll tell tae you, traitors names I’ll tell tae you”

In the chaumer a statue o a braw king did staun
A gowd ring in its haun
“A gift o peace I gie tae my King
Wha rules ower this lan, wha rules ower this lan”

Finella she smiled, then stepped aside
The King he’s taen the ring
Fan an arra fired an flew through his hairt,
Finella killed the King, Finella killed the King

The kingsmen they found him lyin deid on ‘e fleer
The king aa covered wi bleed
They couldna find Finella at aa,
They’d nae rest till she wis deid, they’d nae rest till she wis deid

She fled ower the howe wi the ocean in mind
The lass being jimp an sma,
She rin ower the treetops afollowin a stream
She wis cornered by them aa, she wis cornered by them aa

She louped fae the stream ower a wild waterfall
Her body tossed an torn
But some men believe she grew wings and taen flight
And flew tae Irelands shore, and flew tae Irelands shore

The kingsmen they burned Fettercairn tae the ground
Kenneth’s body they retrieved
An they buried him on the Isle o Iona
His kingdom lang it grieved, his kingdom lang it grieved

In the Den of Finella, rare orchids they growe
The neist King he’s been crowned
Think o Finella an whaur she may roam
Or dis she lee in the ground, or dis the she lee in the ground?

LINER NOTES

The ballad tells the story of Lady Finella, who assassinated King Kenneth II of Scotland, to avenge his killing of her son. Lady Finella, born in the year 950 AD, was the daughter of Cuncar, Mormaer of Angus, a descendant of Pictish royalty. Finella was said to have lived southwest of Fettercairn at the Castle of Greencairn, the supposed seat and stronghold of the Mormaer of Angus.

The ballad, as ballads tend to, begins “in media res”, which means that we miss the epilogue…

King Kenneth wanted to tame rebellious subjects, refine their behaviour, and wanted peace in the land after years of battles with the Danes. Finellas’ son, Cruthlint quarrelled, theived and raided up and down the land. Kenneth ordered Crunthlint to appear at Scone within fifteen days to answer for his conduct. Cruntlint fled to the Highlands. Kenneth pursued and captured him in Lochaber and brought him to the Castle of Dunsinane, where he was executed. Fenella held a deep hatred toward Kenneth and planned his death.

According to John Fordun’s chronicles, King Kenneth II attempted to change succession rules in order to secure the thrown for his own descendants and introduce primogeniture. This excluded Constantine III and Kenneth III, named as Gryme in the chronicles. The two men opposed Kenneth’s attempted changes to succession and jointly conspired against him, convincing Lady Finella to assassinate the King.

Finella, a keen huntress, pretending to forgive the monarch invited Kenneth to hunt and lodge at her castle. Kenneth accepted the offer and went with his men to hunt with her.  During the hunt, she gained his trust by exclaiming that she had information about a conspiracy to kill him and promised to unmask traitors. She proclaimed her loyalty to him by pretending to agree with his act of killing her son. Finella gave Kenneth and his men a hearty reception. After dining, she invited him to her chamber. In the chamber was a statue that resembled a King, on one hand a golden ring set with precious stones.  If anyone removed the ring from the statue, they’d trigger the crossbows and fall victim to arrows. Finella exclaimed that the ring is a gift – a gesture of peace. Kenneth removes the ring and triggers the cross-bow and is fatally wounded. Finella flees and makes her way towards the coast. The Kings men, find Kenneth dead and pursues Finella. Cornered, she leaps over a waterfall to her supposed death. Some accounts of the story claim that she was captured, brought back to Fettercairn and burned in her castle. Some accounts claim that Finella was a shape-shifter; a witch who grew wings and flew to Ireland. Some accounts claim that Constantine III and Kenneth III aid Finella in her escape and secure safe passage to Ireland for her.

Although the tale is in part based on true events chronicled by John of Forduns’ 14th century “Chronicle of the Scottish Nation” based on local folklore and feud sagas, Alan Orr Anderson considered the story of Finella as semi-mythical. Nevertheless, her namesake remains in the

Mearns – Strathfinella Hill between Fordoun and Fettercairn, Den of Finella near St Cyrus, are said to have their name from Lady Finella. Ruins of Greencairn Castle, the reputed residence of Finella are still seen upon a hill about a mile to the west of Fettercairn.