Almost 100 ago, an American folklorist named James Madison Carpenter came to Scotland to record work songs and shanties from the fishing communities around the coast. He brought with him a cylinder recorder, an early Dictaphone – already an outdated piece of equipment – and persuaded fisher folk to sing for him.
What he recorded was the sound of something everyone more recently had thought lost for ever, the Dreg Songs of the Forth. These were songs by oyster fishermen who were known to have sung them as long ago as the 18th century. A researcher from the US has been working through that archive and found enough to recreate them. Now members of the rowing clubs along the Forth have got together to sing them for the first time in living memory. The Caledonian Mercury was there to witness the event.