Document 1006

Extract from "Killing Time"

Author(s): Liz Niven

Copyright holder(s): Liz Niven


The play is set during the time of the Covenanters dispute against King James in the 17th century.
During this century, at least 93 people were executed for their religious beliefs. Many Presbyterians would not sign a declaration which agreed with the 'Divine Right of Kings' which placed the monarchy above God. The play focuses on the Wigtown martyrs who were killed in Galloway during the ‘Killing Times’.

MRS WILSON: Ah wanted them oot, Gilbert. Ah must speak tae ye.
GILBERT: Whit's wrang, wumman?
MOTHER: There's talk in the toon again.
FATHER: So? There's aye talk in the toon.
MOTHER: It's aboot Margaret.
FATHER: Whit aboot her?
MOTHER: Ye ken fine. Willnae swear allegiance tae the King. Willnae acknowledge him as heid o the kirk. Says Jesus Christ is above him and his bishops.
FATHER: She's only a lass o eighteen. Lea her be.
MOTHER: Ah'd leave her be. Of course Ah wid. (Lowers her voice.) Ah hauf believe her at times. (Speaks normally again. As she speaks he looks around nervously.) But it's no ma opinion that coonts nooadays, or yours. We all hae tae dae as the King and his bishops say - an. . .
FATHER: Keep yer voice doon, wife. Ye maun ca cannie.
MOTHER: Exactly. Folk gan in fear an trepidation. Oor freedom's gone. Taxes, fines, torture and imprisonment. Whit's happening tae oor country? Divine Rights of Kings? It'll be the English rule next.

A sound from Agnes under the table draws their attention. She has found the flute.

MOTHER: Agnes. Whit are ye daein lurkin there? Oot!

Exit Agnes.

MOTHER: Be the death of us thae children.
FATHER: Mair like the deaths o themselves. Ah should think. Margaret will onywey at the rate she's goin.
MOTHER: Whit aboot it though, Gilbert? They willnae come tae oor church. They'll be settin Claverhouse's soldiers upon us again. We'll be as poor as a kirkmoose soon.

Gilbert makes gestures behind her back indicating that she talks rather a lot.

MOTHER: Gilbert Wilson, are ye listenin tae me? An by the way. Can ye account tae me for seeven shillings missing oot o the housekeeping siller?
FATHER: Ach, Ah micht as weel tell ye. The dragoons hae been again. When ye were awa tae the Wigtoun market last week.
MOTHER: This will hae tae be sorted oot, Gilbert.
FATHER: Ay dear.
MOTHER: Ye werenae even gan tae say.
FATHER: Ah dinnae like tae worry ye.
MOTHER: Well, this willnae dae. Ah'm gan tae see aboot this.
(She moves to leave.)
FATHER: Whaur on earth are ye gan?
MOTHER: Ah'm gan tae speak tae these three weans. Whaur did ye think Ah was gan? Tae confront Claverhouse masel?
FATHER: (Muttering) Ah widnae pit it past ye.
MOTHER: Naw, mair's the pity, no me. It's oor Margaret's the only yin wi enough smeddum tae dae that.

During this speech, the children have been about to enter the room. They can be seen by the audience only. Exit Mother. Father shakes his head and follows L. Enter the children R.

MARGARET: Well, Ah've got news fer you pair.
THOMAS: Whit's that, Margaret?
MARGARET: Ah'm gan tae run awa.
AGNES: Ye're whit?
MARGARET: Aye, ye heard richt. If Ma and Da are haein aw this bother cause o me then Ah'm aff.
AGNES: But whaur will ye gan?
THOMAS: Huh! Naebody wid hae her. (He pretends not to be interested in their conversation, whittling wood by the table.)
MARGARET: Ay they wid. The Covenanters they'd welcome me.
AGNES: Wha's the Covenanters?
MARGARET: Fowk wha want tae leeve their ain way, believe their ain things.
AGNES: Whaur dae they leave?
MARGARET: Caves in the Gallowa hills.
AGNES: That must be awfu.
MARGARET: It's the only wey they can escape frae the likes o Winram an Grierson an ither puppets o Claverhouse. It souns braw tae me. They can meet in the hills tae fer the Field Prayer Meetings - that's the Conventicles - Ah'd love tae be there wi them.

During the conversation Thomas has started to show interest.

THOMAS: They leeve in caves? The soldiers are efter them? Murder an bloodshed. (He flourishes his knife.)
MARGARET: Wait a meenit. This disnae concern you. An stop playing that flute, Agnes. Ah cannae think straight.
AGNES: If you're gan, Ah'm gan!
MARGARET: Naw ye're no. Ye're only thirteen.
THOMAS: Weel Ah'm definitely gan. It souns great.
MARGARET: Souns great? Ah'll souns great ye! This isnae a faimily outing, ye ken.
THOMAS: Pity. Ah think Ma an Da should come tae.
AGNES: Aye, look at a the bother they've been haein.
MARGARET: Ye're missing the point. It's because o ma beliefs Ah'm gan. No fer a holiday.
AGNES: Dae Ma an Da no believe the same as you, Margaret?
MARGARET: No really. They gaun tae the new kirk wi the new bible. They agree the King's above a, weel they say they do. An you twa wid be the same if it wisnae fir me. Ah shouldnae influence ye.
AGNES: Dae you no believe in King Charles, Margaret?
MARGARET: Ah dinnae think he should be heid o the kirk. Why should he an his bishops tell me whit tae believe an tae no believe? Anywey it's no jist that. Hauf o it's jist an excuse fer chargin taxes an makin them aw wealthy.

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APA Style:

Extract from "Killing Time". 2024. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved 21 May 2024, from

MLA Style:

"Extract from "Killing Time"." The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2024. Web. 21 May 2024.

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The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. 2024. Glasgow: University of Glasgow.


Information about Document 1006

Extract from "Killing Time"


Text audience

Adults (18+)
Teenagers (13-17)
General public
Audience size 1000+

Text details

Method of composition Wordprocessed
Word count 927
General description Extract from one-act play

Text publication details

Publisher Spotlight Productions
Place of publication Newton Stewart
Part of larger text
Contained in Killing Time
Editor Author: Liz Niven

Text setting


Text type

Script (film, play, radio, tv etc.)


Author details

Author id 19
Forenames Liz
Surname Niven
Gender Female
Decade of birth 1950
Educational attainment University
Age left school 17
Occupation Writer
Place of birth Glasgow
Region of birth Glasgow
Birthplace CSD dialect area Gsw
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Dumfries
Region of residence E & Mid Dumfries
Residence CSD dialect area Dmf
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation Gardener
Father's place of birth Glasgow
Father's region of birth Glasgow
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Gsw
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Seamstress
Mother's place of birth Glasgow
Mother's region of birth Glasgow
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area Gsw
Mother's country of birth Scotland


Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes Work / home
French Yes Yes Yes Yes With French people / films
Scots Yes Yes Yes Yes Work / home