World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

On Ilkla Moor Baht 'at

Article Id: WHEBN0000321935
Reproduction Date:

Title: On Ilkla Moor Baht 'at  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Yorkshire, Yorkshire dialect, Yorkshire Regiment, Ilkley Moor, Ilkley
Collection: British Anthems, English Folk Songs, Ilkley, Music in Yorkshire, Regional Songs, Yorkshire Culture, Yorkshire Regiment
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

On Ilkla Moor Baht 'at

"On Ilkla Moor Baht 'at"
Ilkley Moor, setting of the song.
English title On Ilkley Moor without a hat
Written 1805 (music)
1850s–1870s (words)
Published 1916
Composer Thomas Clark
Lyricist Anonymous
Language Yorkshire dialect
Ducks on Ilkley Moor, as in the song

"On Ilkla Moor Baht 'at" or "On Ilkla Moor bar tat" (Standard English: On Ilkley Moor without a hat) is a folk song from Yorkshire, England. It is sung in the Yorkshire dialect, and is considered the unofficial anthem of Yorkshire.[1] According to tradition, the words were composed by members of a Halifax church choir on an outing to Ilkley Moor near Ilkley, West Yorkshire.[2]


  • Theme 1
  • Tune 2
  • Lyrics 3
  • Usage 4
  • References 5
  • Published versions 6
  • Further reading 7
  • External links 8


The song tells of a lover courting the object of his affections, Mary Jane, on Ilkley Moor without a hat (baht 'at). The singer chides the lover for his lack of headwear – for in the cold winds of Ilkley Moor this will mean his death from exposure. This will in turn result in his burial, the eating of his corpse by worms, the eating of the worms by ducks and finally the eating of the ducks by the singers.

In The Yorkshire Dictionary (Arnold Kellett, 2002) it was said the song (i.e., the lyrics) probably originated from the Halifax area, based on the dialect which is not common to all areas of Yorkshire.

The title is seen in various transcriptions of the dialect, but is most commonly On Ilkla Mooar [or Moor] baht 'at, i.e. "On Ilkley Moor without [wearing] a hat"; idiomatically "On Ilkley Moor deprived of (i.e. barred) hat". Dr Arnold Kellett reports the traditional belief that the song "came into being as a result of an incident that took place during a ramble and picnic on the moor. It is further generally believed that the ramblers were all on a chapel choir outing, from one of the towns in the industrial West Riding".[2]

The first published version of the words appeared in 1916, when it was described as "a dialect song which, for at least two generations past, has been sung in all parts of the West Riding of Yorkshire".[3] Arnold Kellett calculates that the song "could well have originated in the early years of the second half of the [19th] century, and not as late as 1877 ...".[4]


Sung to the

  • Lyrics and music

External links

  • Kellett, Arnold (1998). On Ilkla Mooar baht 'at: the story of the song. Smith Settle.  

Further reading

  • Rise Up Singing, Peter Blood and Annie Patterson, editors, 1988, page 74 ISBN 1-881322-13-0

Published versions

  1. ^ "'"The National Anthem of Yorkshire 'God's own county. 24 October 2007. 
  2. ^ a b Kellett, Arnold (1998). On Ilkla Mooar baht 'at: the story of the song. Smith Settle. p. 55.  
  3. ^ Kellett, Arnold (1998). On Ilkla Mooar baht 'at: the story of the song. Smith Settle. p. 83.  
  4. ^ Kellett, Arnold (1998). On Ilkla Mooar baht 'at: the story of the song. Smith Settle. p. 89.  
  5. ^ Ian C. Bradley (1997), Abide with me: the world of Victorian hymns, p. 9,  
  6. ^ See, e.g., John P. Wiegand, editor, Praise for the Lord (Expanded edition) (Nashville, TN: Praise Press / 21st Century Christian, 1997), Item 199.
  7. ^ "Grace! 'Tis a Charming Sound". Cyberhymnal. Retrieved 7 November 2008.  But note that the default tune here is not Cranbrook.
  8. ^ "Language Fun! A Simple Word-Recognition Experiment". Yorkshire Dialect Society. Retrieved 10 September 2013. 
  9. ^ "On Ilkley Moor Baht ’at (On Ilkley Moor Without a Hat • Yorkshire’s "National Anthem")". Retrieved 17 April 2015. 
  10. ^ "On Ilkley Moor Baht 'At". Retrieved 17 April 2015. 
  11. ^ "Bill Oddie On Ilkla Moor Baht'at UK Promo 7" vinyl single". Retrieved 12 June 2009. 
  12. ^ "Liberator: The Songbook – The Glory Days". Retrieved 17 April 2015. 


  • The Yorkshire Regiment – 4th Battalion's Quick March
  • Anita Rani introduced this song to a class of Chinese primary school children during an improvised English lesson on the BBC TV programme China on Four Wheels which was broadcast in 2012.
  • A parody "On Exmoor Baht At" was widely sung at student and Young Liberal conferences in the 1970s.[12]


Commercial recordings:

The song has been used in various television programmes:


There are also alternative endings, where verse nine states: "There is a moral to this tale", and is followed by a chorus of "Don't go without your hat / Don't go without your hat / On Ilkey moor baht 'at" (which is sung commonly within West Yorkshire), or "Don't go a courtin' Mary Jane" (another variation known in the Scouting movement). Alternatively, verse nine is sung as "There is a moral to this tale", and verse ten as "When courtin' always wear a hat".

Also in some recitals, after the first two lines of "On Ilkla Mooar baht 'at" it is followed by a "Where's that?". Another variant adds "Howzat?" after the first line and "Not out!" after the second. In Leeds the line immediately before the chorus is often ended with "And we all got wet". In the United States, "Then we will go and eat up the ducks" is often followed by a shouted "Up the Ducks!"

Some singers add the responses "without thy trousers on" after the fourth line of each verse, and "where the ducks play football" after the seventh. Other variations include "where the nuns play rugby", "where the sheep fly backwards", "where the ducks fly backwards", "where the ducks wear trousers", "an' they've all got spots", and "where they've all got clogs on".

Many sources[9][10] give the first line as "Wheear wor ta bahn when Ah saw thee?" (Where were you going when I saw you), though "Wheear 'ast tha bin sin' Ah saw thee" is the more common version nowadays.

The lyrics include many features of the Yorkshire dialect such as Definite article reduction and H-dropping. Baht is Yorkshire dialect for "without".[8]

Lyrics in Yorkshire dialect
Wheear 'ast tha bin sin' ah saw thee, ah saw thee?
On Ilkla Mooar baht 'at
Wheear 'ast tha bin sin' ah saw thee, ah saw thee?
Wheear 'ast tha bin sin' ah saw thee?
On Ilkla Mooar baht 'at
On Ilkla Mooar baht 'at
On Ilkla Mooar baht 'at
Tha's been a cooartin' Mary Jane
Tha's bahn' to catch thy deeath o' cowd
Then us'll ha' to bury thee
Then t'worms'll come an' eyt thee up
Then t'ducks'll come an' eyt up t'worms
Then us'll go an' eyt up t'ducks
Then us'll all ha' etten thee
That's wheear we get us ooan back
Interpretation in Standard English
Where have you been since I saw you, I saw you?
On Ilkley Moor without a hat
Where have you been since I saw you, I saw you?
Where have you been since I saw you?
On Ilkley Moor without a hat
On Ilkley Moor without a hat
On Ilkley Moor without a hat
You've been courting Mary Jane
You're going to catch your death of cold
Then we will have to bury you
Then the worms will come and eat you up
Then the ducks will come and eat up the worms
Then we will go and eat up the ducks
Then we will all have eaten you
That's where we get our own back

Within the lyrics there is a central verse, the first, third and fourth lines are changed with each following verse. All the verses feature the second, fifth, sixth and seventh lines "On Ilkla Mooar baht 'at".


Cranbrook continues in use as a hymn tune in the United States, where it was not adopted as the tune of a popular secular song and is customarily used with the lyrics of Philip Doddridge's "Grace! 'Tis a Charming Sound".[6][7]

It is still used for the traditional words "While Shepherds Watched" in some churches including Leeds Parish Church, but no longer widely recognised as a hymn or carol tune in the United Kingdom.

Adapted from Cranbrook

Problems playing this file? See .


This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.