About the Dreg Song Project

In the nineteenth century, Scotsmen fished for oysters in the Firth of Forth by dragging dredges over the oyster 'scalps'. To maintain a steady speed they sang as they rowed. Overfishing brought the industry to a close near the turn of the twentieth century and with it, the use of the dreg songs. In the 1930s James Madison Carpenter gathered some of these songs on wax cylinders and typewritten pages. For years the songs were hidden away - lost. Now, with the work of the James Madison Carpenter Project these songs have come back to life first at Mystic Seaport Museum and, this summer, in their home waters of the Firth! Three Scottish Coast Rowing Clubs: RowportyNewhaven Coastal Rowing and Boatie Blest  brought the songs home to the Firth at 7:30 pm on 20 June, 2012 near the Dalriada Bar. It was a memorable and historic evening!

Boatie Blest sings a Dreg Song

Here, at long last, is the sound of a Dreg Song sung by the good folks of Port Seton’s Boatie Blest. Leading the song are Gareth Jones and Archie Johnston with Shelley Jones, Angus McDonald, Lucy Hyde, Carmel Daly, Robin Abbey, Eilish Guy, Martine Robertson, Bernadette (Berni) Goslin, Stuart Mack and John Johnston. Tom Donaldson was also part of the group but not present on this occasion. The recordings were made by Michal Jankowski and Dr. Paul Ferguson of Edinburgh Napier University with the cordial assistance of Graham Weir.

Port Seton sings the Dreg Song: