Hawthorne Tree of Cawdor

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HAWTHORNE TREE OF CAWDOR (Freumh a's Craobh Taigh Challadair). AKA and see "Calder Fair," "Cawdor Fair," "Cock a Bendie," "Go on Lads and Give a Tune." Scottish, Strathspey or Slow Air. A Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. "This popular air is mentioned as old, by Mr. Gow. The editor discovering it under the mane now given in MS. of Mr. Campbell of Budyet, formerly mentioned, corroborates that truth. This gentleman was a cadet of the family of Lord Cawdor, and a celebrated composer and modeller of our best strathspeys. The hawthorne tree is still visible in Cawdor Castle, and is so venerated as the roof-tree of the family, that, on an annual meeting of his lordship's tenants and other friends, usually held on the day of Cawdor Fair, to drink 'the hawthorne tree',-- hence the probability of its having been composed by Mr. Campbell for the occasion" (Fraser). A Scottish superstition is that Hawthorne blossoms should never be brought into the household or bad luck will follow, but the haw berries stay red until into the winter.

Although Cawdor is known as the seat of the powerful Campbell clan, it was not originally built by them and has a long history. The first Thane of Cawdor was appointed by the Scottish king Alexander II in 1236; the third Thane was murdered by a neighbor, Sir Alexander Rait of Rait Castle. Cawdor Castle itself started as a 14th century tower, to which were added parapets, an upper story and a massive iron yett in 1454-1455. The ranges were added in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Campbells obtained control of the fortification by capturing the twelve-year-old heiress in 1511 and marrying her to the Earl of Argyll's son, at which time the clan retained the castle. During Bonnie Prince Charlie's Jacobite Rising of 1746, the Campbells gave refuge to Lord Lovet there. Legend has it that Cawdor Castle is inhabited by, not one but two ghosts; one is a lady in blue velvet and the other is John Campbell, the first Lord of Cawdor.

Siegfried Sassoon wrote a poem during World War I entitled "The Hawthorn Tree," and, while it has no direct connection with this tune, perhaps the underlying sentiment is related. It goes, in part:

I know my lad that's out in France...would give his eyes for just one glance at our white hawthorn tree.

See versions from the north of England under the title "Calder Fair."

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Fraser (The Airs and Melodies Peculiar to the Highlands of Scotland and the Isles), 1816 (republished in 1874); No. 135, p. 54. Johnson (Kitchen Musician No. 10: Airs & Melodies of Scotland's Past), 1992 (revised 2001); p. 7. MacDonald (The Skye Collection), 1886; p. 111 (appears as "Cawdor Fair"). Stewart-Robertson (The Athole Collection), 1884; p. 43 (appears as "Cawdor Fair").

Recorded sources: Cranford Publications, "Music from The Simon Fraser Collection" (Recorded in 1982 by Paul Cranford, this track played by Dave MacIsaac).

See also listings at:
Alan Snyder's Cape Breton Fiddle Recording Index [1]




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