View and zoom into this image on our new collection website
Burns and his Highland Mary

Reference URL

Burns and his Highland Mary

Not on display

  • Scottish Art
Highland Mary’ was the nickname given to Mary Campbell who Burns had a brief love affair with in 1786. Mary was originally from Dunoon, but her family moved to Campbeltown when she was eight. She was a native Gaelic-speaker, but also spoke English with a pronounced lilt. When she moved to Ayrshire for work in 1786, it was her accent when speaking English that earned her the nickname. It was there that she and Burns met, but she died shortly after their affair had begun. Burns was deeply affected by her death, and he wrote about it in the song ‘Highland Mary’: “But oh! fell Death's untimely frost, / That nipt my Flower sae early! / Now green's the sod, and cauld's the clay / That wraps my Highland Mary!”.


  • Acc. No. NG 2202
  • Medium Watercolour wash and oil on paper
  • Size 16.80 x 14.30 cm (framed: 59.00 x 43.70 x 2.00 cm)
  • Credit Bequest of William Findlay Watson 1881