Tuesday 19 March 2024

Murder Pool - New Song and Video from Scotland.


Murder Pool is a song written by Jimi McRae and Scottish guitarist Neil Warden. 

It can be downloaded or streamed via your favourite music site by clicking this link: https://emubands.ffm.to/murderpool 

 Murder Pool is the first release from a new eight song project by Jimi and Neil which follows on from McRae's well received 2022 six track EP 'The Hills Where I Began'. The new releases will see McRae exploring little discussed, stark, dark and often quite horrific periods and episodes from Scottish history, in this case the barbaric practice of murder or drowning pools.

 In an article entitled 'The dark history of Scotland's drowning pools' dated April 2016 'The Scotsman' newspaper writes: “The threat of execution was one of the primary tools of law enforcement in early medieval Europe, and it was no different in Scotland. One example is the use of so-called drowning pools, also known as drowning pits or murder-pools. 

“Their use was self-explanatory. But what made them unique was they were traditionally reserved for women." The article continues: “Feudal Scotland had no central government that we would recognise today. Royal authority was a distant concept. Local landowners held immense power and were expected to dispense justice as they saw fit. Why women were drowned and men hanged cannot be definitively explained. One theory is that it was viewed as less violent death, and considered an act of leniency”. 

However, men too were on occasion sentenced to drown. Rope was expensive after all. 

Sir Walter Scott recorded in 1815 that Border reivers of earlier centuries, who raided farms and property in both Scotland and England, were traditionally sentenced to be hanged or drowned, depending on the locality. He wrote many were drowned “in a deep eddy of the Jed, near Jedburgh,” adding that “the next tree, or the deepest pool in the nearest stream, was indifferently used.” 

 One such known 'murder pool' featuring in this music video (42 secs, and again at 3mins 5 secs) is located in the Scottish Borders town of Hawick, where the Slitrig water runs into the River Teviot. In an article entitled 'Rough Justice for the Reivers' author David Pike writes: “Here, where nature has cut a little deeper into the natural landscape, you will find the town’s infamous drowning pool or murder pool, depending which side of the law you were on. 

"In July of 1562 some 22 Border Reivers met a watery end in the ‘pool.’ The Reivers were in the habit of bringing their ill-gotten gains to Hawick market but on this occasion Walter Kerr, Warden of Scotland was one step ahead. 

"Acting on the authority of the recently crowned Mary Queen of Scots he sealed off the town and captured dozens of Reivers. Those on the lower rungs of the social pecking order had their hands bound and were executed at the pool, their bodies held underwater by lances. Their leaders were afforded the courtesy of a trip to Edinburgh and a ‘gentleman’s’ death by hanging.” 

Drownings like this were carried out until the late 17th century across Scotland as a punishment for a variety of crimes. The Scotsman newspaper states: "In 1611, an Edinburgh man was drowned for stealing a lamb, and in 1623, eleven gypsy women were recorded as being drowned in the city’s Nor Loch. In 1679, a woman named Janet Grant was tried for theft in the baronial court of Sir Robert Gordon of Gordonston. She was found guilty and drowned the next day in the Loch of Spynie." The Scotsman adds: "There are no records of drowning being used as a capital punishment after 1685. The practice survived in France until at least 1793."

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic sound and visuals. A very effective and dramatic way to bring out some of history's darker episodes.