I thought I would start this week off looking at a very specific type of Scottish song associated with the waulking of cloth. It is only in Scotland (and by migration to Nova Scotia) that waulking became closely associated with traditional Gàidhlig songs. Women used the rhythmic songs to both help them in their work and also to pass the time more enjoyably.
Waulking (also known as fulling) is the process in making cloth where it is beaten to make it thicker and water resistant (especially needed in Scotland). Fulling mills were introduced in medieval times but in many more remote and self-sufficient areas, the process continued to be done by hand up into the 20th century. As part of the exodus of Highland Scots during the Clearances after the failed uprising in 1745, the process was carried to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia in the new world where the process became known as milling. There are still milling frolics held today in an effort to maintain old traditions.
A short explanation of milling:
For those of an Outlandish persuasion, Diana Gabaldon does a great scene describing waulking in Dragonfly in Amber: Continue reading