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Updated 10/03/2017


The Braes of Mellinish
Capt. McKay

The Brae’s (Hills) of Mellinish - also known as Bruachan Mhealanais and Bruachun Mhelinis – might refer to the hills around Loch Linnie.  There was a Laird of Mellin, whose estates were outside of Perth and so the hills would have been sort of “Mellinish.” 

According to legend, Perth has long been known as the 'bonnie toun' on account of its lovely women. This dates back to the 6th century and the legend of King Arthur. When he first ascended to his throne, he dispatched heralds to summon the most beautiful maidens in the land to Camelot to attend the first Tournament of his Knights of the Round Table. The fairest of all the girls that he saw there was Lady Guinevere, from Perth. It is said that he fell in love with her almost at first sight, and would not rest until she consented to become his bride. But her father, Hamish, Laird of Mellin, set him a task to perform to prove his worthiness before he would consent to the marriage. Arthur was asked to swim across Loch Linnie in the cold of December. So on the appointed day, Arthur went to the shore of the loch, stripped off his tunic and hose, and waded into the icy water. On Merlin's advice, he chose a part of the shore where the loch was narrow, and succeeded in reaching the other side in less than a minute, thus avoiding hypothermia. There is a children's rhyme "Frae Perth came Guinevere, to make the King revere, He saw her face in the Loch of the north, and never went more forth"

The tune is often played at ceilidhs for the Strip the Willow dance. Strip the willow is a country or barn dance. It has variations depending upon whether it is being performed as a movement in a larger dance or a complete dance in itself.  The dancers form a longways set (a row of gentlemen facing their partners, a row of ladies) of four couples. The 'objective' is to move the top couple to the bottom of the set, and the other couples move up one position. A brief description of the dance would be: The top couple link arms and spin each other for a count of 16, at which point the lady 'strips' down the line of men alternating left-handed anti-clockwise swings with someone else's partner right-handed clockwise half-turn swings with their partner working steadily down the set, the gentleman at this point swinging only with his partner. At the bottom, the couple join again and spin for a count of 8, then the gentleman 'strips' up the line of ladies the same as his partner just did, while the lady swings only with the man. At the top of the set, the couples join together and swing for a count of 8 then together they 'strip' down to the bottom, alternately swinging the other partners down the line and meeting to swing each other between people. At the bottom they meet one last time to swing for 8 beats, while the next top couple meet and swing for 16 and follow the steps above.