Duke of Athole's Courtship

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DUKE OF ATHOLE'S COURTSHIP. AKA and see "Huntingtower." Scottish, Air (4/4 time). E Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). One part. The melody is today usually known as "Huntingtower," which is the name of a ruin near Perth, though it was originally called Ruthven Castle. The castle has a fascinating history which began with its construction in the 13th century. Additions were subsequently built, until by the 1500's it consisted of two castles joined together. Neil (1991) tells us: "The tower is reknowned for 'the maiden's leap' which is the name given to the 9 foot gap between the two buildings, 60 feet from the ground across which the daughter of the 1st Earl of Gownie leaped on being discovered with her lover." In August, 1582, the Earl of Gownie perpetrated the "Raid of Ruthven" when he treacherously seized the 16 year of James IV of Scotland and held him captive. Surprised, James began to cry, though was mortified when one of his captors responded "Better bairns greet than bearded men." James never forgave this remark, and, aided to escape, later exacted his revenge. The old Highland ballad (based on a traditional story of the ducal family of Athol) begins:

Blair in Athole's mine Jeanie,
Fair Dunkeld is mine, lassie,
Saint Johnstown's bower and Huntingtower
A a' that's mine is thine lassie.

A review in the Ashburton Guardian' of March 18, 1895, mentioned the air was sung as a duet by a Scottish couple during a St. Patricks Day concert, identifying it as "the always pleasing duet of 'Huntingtower' or 'The Duke of Athole's Courtship'."

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