Re: another 18th century question...rock and reel?

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Posted by Kate on August 09, 2000 at 18:10:22:

In Reply to: Re: another 18th century question...rock and reel? posted by Adele on August 09, 2000 at 15:47:50:

: :
: : Okay, you all have helped me with nocake, and bundling cloths. Does anybody know what a rock and a reel would be?
: : These items are mentioned in a ballad, "Johnny Has Gone For a Soldier," which was originally an Irish tune adapted for the Revolution. (featured on the Mark O'Connor "Liberty" CD). In it, a woman sells her "rock and reel" to buy her lover a sword. Now, I know what a ROD and reel is, but I don't imagine they're talking about fishing equipment. The phrase "rock and reel" was also used in several other Highland and Scottish ballads from the period I've heard, usually it's a woman selling "rock and reel" to run off with a Highland laird or head for America. So what in the world are they talking about????

: ~~~~~~~~

: I am fairly sure that a rock and reel are parts of a spinning wheel - the rock being the part that held the wool or flax before spinning it and the reel being the bobbin that held the thread.

: I think it was also a type of tartan (plaid) too........but maybe we should shout for Miss Katie O'Arbroath for help on this one!

: Adele


Well, I have to admit that I have never heard this phrase used in the context of plaids or tartans, Adele. However, that means diddly ... I HAVE heard of it in the context of spinning wheels though - but as a 'rocking reel' (the rocking of the foot pedal turning the reel) - a term of old Scottish dialectic origin. Could that, perhaps, be what you are hearing in the lyrics, Christina?

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