Arts In Berwick -- Ballads and Poems
By 15th.Century all four orders of Friars had set up in Berwick, making
the town an ideal setting for the anonymous comic poem The Friars of Berwick.
Dating from c.1480 when Berwick was still Scots, it tells how two roving
friars beg lodgings from Alison, a housewife, while her husband, Simon,
is away. They spy on her assignation with another lecherous friar, until
Simon's unexpected return. A knockabout farce, it ends with the lecherous
friar hit with a cudgel. Probably based on a performance piece, the poem
was copied out in 1568 by George Bannatyne (1545-1605), while he was sheltering
from the Edinburgh plague. It used to be attributed to William Dunbar,
but this is not now accepted.
Click here to return to the Ballads and Poems page