The Well Wynd reel

Also known as The Wellwynd.

There are 4 recordings of this tune.

The Well Wynd has been added to 5 tunebooks.

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One setting

X: 1
T: The Well Wynd
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amaj
|:cd|ecAc eAce|a2ga fedc|Bcde fefg|afec B2cd|
ecAc eAce|a2ga fedc|Bcde fgaf|edcB A2:|
|:dc|B2dB GBEG|ABcd ecAc|dcde fgaf|bagf e2fg|
a2ed cdec|f2BA GABG|ABcd efga|edcB A2:|

Twenty-nine comments

The Well Wynd ~ C: Jim Johnstone.

A Jim Johnstone reel. From John Chambers’ transcriptions.

The Well Wynd is a street in Johnstone’s home town of Tranent.
A mine shaft was discovered under the demolished Drill Hall there, some years back.

Just to join in the fun of Jim Johnstone Week.

"Tranent was formerly well supplied with water of excellent quality by a spring above the village which flows through a sand-bed. The water flows into Tranent at its head, or highest quarter, and is received into about ten wells distributed throughout the village. The people supply themselves at these wells when they contain water. When the supply is small, the water pours in a very small stream only; and it happens, in consequence, that on these occasions of scarcity great crowds of women and children assemble at these places, waiting their "turn," as it is termed. I have seen women fighting for water. The wells are sometimes frequented throughout the whole night. It was generally believed by the population that this stoppage of the water was owing to its stream being diverted into a coal-pit which was sunk in the sand-bed above Tranent. That pit has been lined with sheets of iron, and the water has lately returned to Tranent in great abundance."

Some depressing reading in the article, methinks:

Jim Johnstone Week

Welcome, and thanks, appreciated…

And I forgot to add, thanks for the story and the link too… One of the lives claimed by coal was my wife’s father…

Of no direct relevance to the tune, but Tranent is one of many placenames in S and E Scotland that has its origins in the Old Cumbric language, belonging to the Brythonic branch of the Celtic family (It is very close to - and considered by some to be a dialect of - Welsh).

Swap the vowels round - ‘Trenant’ - and you have a fairly typical Welsh placename, meaning ‘town on a stream’ (tref + nant).

Yep, the name "Tranent" is a rare cumbric survivor. Cumbric elements in scottish place names are not rare in the least, souther scotland was previously known as "north wales" and the inhabitants as the "northern welsh". Now simply referred to as the Old North "Hen Ogledd" in welsh. Britons in the clyde valley possibly remained independent longer than Saxon England, as it’s seems possible that the Strath Clyde kingdom lasted until 1070. Still, mention this to folk and they just stare back at you blankly. Glasgow; is also completely cumbric linguistically, Green Hollow, morphed through modern marketing sneakery to "Dear Green Place".

It is rare however for a place name to survive down to us thats made from entirely cumbric components, that makes Tranent a rare example. "Lanark" is another good example where all the syllables are cumbric in origin, surviving down to the present, Dalkeith from Dol Kett also. Kirkintilloch in a good example of the treatment place names get as language changes down the years; Caer-pen-talloch to Kirkintilloch.

Although of no direct relevance to the tune, it is interesting given Weejie’s supplementary information regarding the springs that fed the town; tref + nant , the town seems well named, as is the tune, the well wynd .

On the A1 just to the west of the junction for Tranent there’s a road sign that has place names in, cumbric, early english and gaelic, all to be found on this one sign. Such is the multi ethnic british make up of Lothian (or Lleuddiniawn as it is rendered in modern welsh ;~)

Forgot the piece in that text:

c2) Tranent ELo CPNS p360, SPN2 p214 treβ- + -ï[r]- + -nant: -nent here could be an archaic genitive singular, or a lost stream-name.

""According to tradition, Tranent derives its name from its natural situation: ‘Trev-er-nent’ signified ‘the village on the ravine’. In ancient writings the name has been given variously as ‘Traunent’, ‘Travernet’ and ‘Treuernent’. "" Quote posted by Weejie

Tranent (from "Scottish Place Names" WFH Nicolaisen 1976, p.168) renders to english as "village of the streams" from "tref yr neint" (Trauernent c. 1127, Treuernent c. 1144, 1150).

So CreadurMawnOrganig’s "tref-nant" does the job.

"So CreadurMawnOrganig’s "tref-nant" does the job."

But "nent" could mean "valley" - see the link:

The root is the same, and yes, the Modern Welsh equivalent does fine.

It could mean valley, and I’ve read the link supporting it. This is considered and argued in WJ Watson’s Celtic Place Names of Scotland (1926), here what Watson has to say:

"the last part is nant, pl. neint, a brook, dingle, valley and in view of the persistence of the spelling (Trauernent c. 1127, Treuernent c. 1144, 1150) -nent the meaning is probably ‘stead of the brooks" or ‘of the dells’ " WJ Watson CPNS 1926, p. 360

The brooks streams idea is reinforced by WFH Nicolaisen in his book "Scottish Place Names" who basically runs with Watson’s conclusion but leaning towards the stream idea.

Looking at the map, Tranent isn’t in a valley as such nor does it have a distinctive ravine. It does however have burns/streams/brooks and it would seem your second post contains a clue regarding the nature of the water supply. Village of the streams/Stead of the brooks seems to describe it.

Whats actually quite interesting is that the nature of the towns springs may be the inspiration for it’s naming.

"From the village of Tranent the parish took its name: And, the village is said to have acquired its appellation from a tradition, which is not yet forgotten on the opposite shore of Fife; and which supposes, that a party of Danes, once landing on that shore, were immediately repulsed, by the natives, who exultingly shouted, Tranent! Tranent! The mere mention of such a tradition, implies a total want of knowledge, etymological, and historic. The name of the village is significant, in the speech of the first colonists, on the banks of the Forth. In the charters of the 12th, 13th, and 14th centuries, the name was written Travernent. The popular name of more recent times is Tranent, which seems to be contracted by colloquial use. Now, Trev-er-nent, in the British speech, signifies the habitation, or village, on the ravine, or vale. Trenant, m the same language, signifies the habitation, or village, at the ravine, or vale. Both those forms of the name are equally descriptive of the situation of Tranent on the eastern side of a deep, narrow valley, or ravine, in the bottom of which there is a brook…"

Caledonia: or, An account, historical and topographic, of North Britain …
By George Chalmers p.523

Things have moved on a little since Chalmers’s time ;~))

"Things have moved on a little since Chalmers’s time ;~))"

True, but things had moved at the time of Chalmers compared to when Tranent came into being - it predates Musselburgh, apparently, and was probably the closest settlement in the Esk basin to where the Esk joins the Firth of Forth (the Forth was higher at that time, it seems).
I’m not intimate with the area, but I did go quite regularly to visit Ian Green in Cockenzie. There is a steady (but not steep) rise away from the Forth, and in the time of the formation of Tranent, I could imagine it being, what seems to be local opinion of the etymology, "the hamlet in the vale".

I could buy into that conclusion but for the opinion of Watson, the granddaddy of scottish place name study. It’s true that not all of Watson’s original findings, published in his seminal work (CPNS) from 1926, have endured, but Tranent [Watson’s "stead of the brooks" or "Stead of the dells" revised as "village of the streams", by Nicolaisen, from tref yr neint] has stood the test of time and critical academic revision. So, I’d say the firmer ground is with streams, spring fed or not.

I had an uncle who had a shop in Tranent but I haven’t been there for years, the girlfriend lives not that far away in the Heed on the A68 so next time I’m down there I’ll take a look, as there’s a nice wee road off her village that takes one through a series of leafy dells to Pencaitland and on down the hill to Tranent.

I’ll leave you with the entry for Tranent from "The Penguin Dictionary of British Place names. 2003" p.484

Tranent (town E Lothian) ‘farm of the stream’
The name comes from celtic words related to modern
Welsh tref, ‘farm’, and ‘nant’, ‘stream’. Cp TREFNANT. 1210 Tranent

Ah, the Penguin theory….that just about seals it.

Call me a curmudgeon, but I’m sticking with the academics on this. Penguin Theory in deed :-p

You’re welcome to. However, East Lothian Council, and Tranent Primary School don’t seem to follow the Penguin Theory. I’m still open on it, and don’t take the word of someone like Watson, however qualified he was, as being gospel. If his theories are being thrown to the wind by local school kids, it doesn’t say much for their worth (even though they might be absolutely true).

"I’m still open on it, and don’t take the word of someone like Watson, however qualified he was, as being gospel" Weejie

Quite right too. Watson didn’t consider himself as being "gospel" either. His book is available as a paper back these days for around a tenner, until around 15 years ago I had to wait weeks for a hard back copy to be available from the library and even then I had to sit with it in the library, no taking it home.

Well worth it IMO, you can then argue with him until your hearts content. But then it’s WFH Nicolaisen who pins his colours to the mast regarding Tranent. Watson seems more than content pondering the possibilities.

" If his theories are being thrown to the wind by local school kids, it doesn’t say much for their worth (even though they might be absolutely true)"

The joys of broadband

Judgement has a tendency to be coloured by the personal, or corporate (as in the case of local authorities), PR agenda and or prejudice, and always at the expense of impartiality.

Nothing new. Take Glasgow, from the cumric ‘glas’ (green) ‘cau’ (hollow). The green hollow. But in the hands of the City Councils PR mongers, the translation is glossed up and presented as; "the dear green place". As this projects the image they wish to sell, to both visitors and locals a like… "No, you don’t live in a scabby 60’s slum, you live in a dear green place". All part and parcel of reinventing ones self.

😀 ~ Academics vs primary kids…

Let’s see, in a dust up who would I be putting my money on? I wonder what my wife, first language Welsh, and an academic, and now a primary school teacher, would think. I’ll ask her, after I’ve poured over our tomes here. I’d better get a dust mask first…

". But then it’s WFH Nicolaisen who pins his colours to the mast regarding Tranent. Watson seems more than content pondering the possibilities"

Nicolaisen seems to spend a lot of time agreeing with Watson. As Satchmo’s words went "what a wonderful world".

"Academics vs primary kids" ceolachan

Na, wouldn’t want to knock they’re confidence by busting the "the hamlet in the vale" bubble.

In a square go, my money’s on the kids, especially tranent kids.

" Academics vs primary kids… "

Thanks for taking things out of context.

No matter how much the theories (which is all they are) of these "academics" hold water (streams), the primary school kids live there, and one day may even be academics. That the theories of the academics don’t seem to have penetrated the confines of the primary school, and furthermore the local council seem to be at odds with the "academics", puts the theories in perspective.
It’s not a case of who is right and who is wrong.
I couldn’t say how much being a native Modern Welsh speaker has to do with the usage of Brythonic language in the north around two thousand years ago.

" But in the hands of the City Councils PR mongers, the translation is glossed up and presented as; "the dear green place". "

I wasn’t aware that it was the City Council who made it sound pretty. I thought the "Dear" part was someone else’s fancy.

Ach…these modern cities, who knows. Academics will point out that Paisley is much older, anyway, but modern Glesca schoolkids think of it as Glesca’s car park.

"I wasn’t aware that it was the City Council who made it sound pretty. I thought the "Dear" part was someone else’s fancy"

Who ever it was, it’s become an article of faith with starry eyed new-age galas weejies.


There you go, cumbric pronunciation still holding sway among the locals, as is often the way ;~) It hung on longer in the west mind.

If your interested here’s an article on Cumbria;

"If your interested here’s an article on Cumbria"

Reasonable article, but I’ve read a few cartloads of that stuff. I’m more into Scandinavian tongues these days (great on a piece with mustard).

"There you go, cumbric pronunciation "

No - pure Partick, I’m telt.