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Maid's Wager, The

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Alternative title: Broomfield Hill, The

Performer: Unknown
Place Collected: Lechlade
Date collected: Between 1913 and 1916
Collector: Williams, Alfred
Roud Number: 34

A widely-known song and versions of it are still turning up in the mouths of southern English gypsies, usually called “A Wager, a Wager”.     English and Scottish versions abound but very few elsewhere and the earliest known text is from around 1700.  There are unexplained elements in the story.  The knight, although arranging a meeting with girl to have sex, is found to be asleep when the girl arrives for the tryst, to her relief.  Some versions suggest that she has been using magic powers, either magic herbs or advice from a witch, to ensure that the knight is asleep when she arrives.  This still does not explain why in the later verses he vows that he intended to kill her. Perhaps he is merely another murderer of the “Outlandish Knight” variety, who seems not to require a motive.

For another Gloucestershire version of this song, with a tune, see


Notes by Gwilym Davies and Jon Lighter