Dumfermline Races

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DUNFERMLINE RACES. Scottish, Reel. A Mixolydian. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB. The name Dunfermline appears to stem from the Celtic root-word dun, meaning a fortified place, coupled with what appears to be a man's name, perhaps and early chieftain. Dunfermline, Fife, was one of the most important royal centers in Scotland, whose palace became a favorite residence of kings. The priory, evolved to an abbey by 1128, was the burial place of kings beginning with Malcolm III and his wife Margaret in 1093. The town was severely damaged in the great fire of 1624. Races were staged at Dunfermine from early 17th century, sponsored by local powers, principally the Seton family, who had introduced the "noble sport" to Haddington, their native area. Alexander Seton, Lord of Dunfermline, gave to the town "Ane overgift of a Silver Rose Bell with his Majestie's names and arms graven thereupon," for the yearly race-prize, held in custody of the town magistrates and counsel (Daniel Thomson, The Weaver's Craft, 1902). Control of the races was retained by local government through the years. For example, on 16th July, 1702, it was recorded:

The said day the counsell ordained the thesaurer to put out a saddle on the toun's account, to be ridden on the morn after July mercat, betwixt the toungreen and buckieburn, back and fore, ye imput; each horse 1lib. 10s., the horse not to be above 5lib. sterling value, and ordained the thesaurer also to buy a bonnet and a pair of stockings, to be exposed for a foot-race on this same ground immediately after the horse race with ribbons to the bonnet." (Burgh Records.)

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Carlin (The Gow Collection), 1976; No. 243. Gow (Fourth Collection of Niel Gow's Reels), 2nd ed., originally 1800; p. 8. Köhlers’ Violin Repository, Book 2, 1881-1885, p. 127. Stewart-Robertson (The Athole Collection), 1884; p. 18.

Recorded sources:




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