Crieff Fair (1)

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CRIEFF FAIR [1]. Scottish, English; Reel or Strathspey. England, Northumberland. D Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB. The town of Crieff is in Perthshire; spellings vary--'Crief' in Howe's c. 1867 volume, while Northumbrian collector William Vickers spelled it "Creef" in his MS. Scot, in The Scottish Country Dance Book labelled the tune "from Bremner, 1760" and John Glen (1891 as well found the earliest printing of the tune in Bremner's Scots Reels, dated 1757. The fair at Crieff was one of the premier stock events of the season, in which English buyers would bid for Highland cattle. The following sketch is given in The Jacobite Lairds of Gask (1870), by Thomas Laurence Kington-Oliphant:

We read this account of a cattle-fair at Crieff in 1723 by an intelligent traveller, shows that the trade continued to prosper. 'There were,’ says he, ‘at least thirty thousand cattle sold there, most of them to English drovers, who paid down above thirty thousand guineas in ready money to the Highlanders; a sum they had never before seen. The Highland gentlemen were mighty civil, dressed in their slashed waistcoats, a trousing (which is, breeches and stockings of one piece of striped stuff), with a plaid for a cloak, and a blue bonnet. They have a poniard knife and fork in one sheath, hanging at one side of their belt, their pistol at the other, and their snuff-mill before; with a great broad-sword by their side, Their attendance was very numerous, all in belted plaids, girt like women’s petticoats down to the knee; their thighs and half of the leg all bare. They had also each their broad-sword and poniard, and spake all Irish, an unintelligible language to the English. However, these poor creatures hired themselves out for a shilling a day, to drive the cattle to England, and to return home at their own charge.’

Samuel Bayard thought the American tune "Fine Times at Our House (1)" bore some resemblance to "Crieff Fair (1)".

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Aird (Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. 3), 1788; No. 506, p. 194. Bremner (Scots Reels), 1757; p. 69. Seattle (William Vickers), 1987, Part 3; No. 507 (reel). Stewart-Robertson (The Athole Collection), 1884; p. 244 (strathspey).

Recorded sources:




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