Brig o’ Doon – where witches fear to tread

The Brig o’ Doon in Alloway is a late medieval bridge used as the setting for the final verse of the Rabbie Burns’ poem Tam o’ Shanter. Tam is on horseback and is being chased by Nannie the witch. He is just able to escape her by crossing the bridge (over a running stream) narrowly avoiding her attack as she is only able to grab the horse’s tail which comes away in her hands. The bridge crosses the River Doon and was rebuilt in the 18th century. The bridge is allegedly the inspiration for the name of the musical 1947 Brigadoon.

Today, the bridge features on the 2007 series of £5 notes issued by the Bank of Scotland, alongside the statue to Robert Burns which is located in Dumfries.

Tam o’ Shanter

When chapmen billies leave the street,
And drouthy neibors, neibors meet,
As market days are wearing late,
An’ folk begin to tak the gate;
While we sit bousing at the nappy,
And getting fou and unco happy,
We think na on the lang Scots miles,
The mosses, waters, slaps, and styles,
That lie between us and our hame,
Where sits our sulky sullen dame.
Gathering her brows like gathering storm,
Nursing her wrath to keep it warm.

This truth fand honest Tam o’ Shanter,
As he frae Ayr ae night did canter,
(Auld Ayr, wham ne’er a town surpasses
For honest men and bonie lasses.)

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