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Hamish Henderson

Hamish Henderson

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1919 Hamish Henderson


Sons and Daughters

Famous poets

Hamish Henderson

Our own Scottish poet, songwriter, communist, soldier and intellectual

Hamish Henderson, the only child of a one parent family, was born James (Hamish) Scott Henderson, at Ramley, Perth Road, Blairgowrie, the home of his grandparents, on 11 November 1919.

Hamish inherited his mother's love of music, and, as a young boy, would listen to and join in her singing in Scots, Gaelic and French.  He received his early education in Blairgowrie, but went on to study modern languages at Cambridge, before serving as an intelligence officer during WWII.

Throughout his later life when he frequently travelled abroad, he would return to Scotland and to Blairgowrie and Rattray.  In 2003, following his death in an Edinburgh nursing home on 18 March, 2002, Blairgowrie, Rattray and District Local History Trust commissioned a bronze head by sculptor Anthony Morrow for permanent display in Blairgowrie Library as a reminder of the high regard in which Hamish Henderson is held in the town of his birth.

Since 2017 the Hamish Matters group has staged an annual festival which celebrates his life.  The centenary of his birth was marked by the unveiling of a giant art work by artist Martin McGuinness on the side of Ben Gulabin at the Spittal of Glenshee. A Hamish Henderson Commemorative Tartan was commissioned by the Hamish Matters Committee.  It was designed and woven by Ashleigh Slater, Master Weaver.

In January 2020 a street in Blairgowrie was officially named Hamish Henderson Place.

One of Hamish's best known songs 'The Freedom Come-All-Ye' reflects his passion for both folksong and politics.  This quote from that song is one of the 24 quotes displayed on the walls of the Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood:

'So, cam' all ye at hame wi' freedom

Never heed whit the hoodies croak for doom

In your hoose a' the bairns o' Adam

Can find breid, barley bree an' painted room.'


The Hamish Matters Committee commissioned this tartan to commemorate Hamish Henderson (1919-2002) celebrating the centenary of his birth and his connections with Blairgowrie.  Hamish Henderson was a Scottish poet, songwriter, communist, soldier and intellectual.  The Hamish Matters Festival, held every year in Blairgowrie, remembers this important man through various folk concerts and activities throughout November.  Hamish was an avid collector of stories and poems, from local folklore to the sound of the Travellers in Blairgowrie and East Perthshire.  The colours: graphite greys, silvers and black represent the penmanship and recordings of this remarkable man; browns and golden hues represent Hamish's favourite tipple; the greens are a nod to the Henderson tartans and the raspberry red is to represent the berry fields when Hamish recorded the famous Belle Stewart and the song featured in theYouTube video – The Berryfields of Blair by Belle Stewart.

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