Hermitage (The)

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HERMITAGE, THE. AKA - "The Harmatage." English, Jig. England, Northumberland. C Major/G Mixolydian. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The title may reference one of several places. A hermitage may refer, of course, to the dwelling of a hermit or a religious man who secluded himself for various reasons. These sites often became sacred in later ages. A hermitage also refers to a small forest or wood in which specific species of trees are planted. Dunkeld Hermitage in Scotland, for example is primarily Scots pine. Finally, Hermitage Castle is in the Borders region of Scotland. Parts of the castle date to the 13th century, built for the Cacres family, although subsequently in the hands of the Douglas's and the Earl of Bothwell. Mary Queen of Scots visited the 4th Earl of Bothwell, her future spouse, at the Hermitage and her ghost is said to still haunt the structure. The ghostly screams that can be heard from time to time are traditionally thought not to be Mary's however, but rather are attributed to an earlier tenant of the castle who dabbled in witchcraft.

The melody also appears in Walsh's Caledonian Country Dances, published in London in the 18th century.

Source for notated version: William Vickers' 1770 Northumbrian music manuscript collection [Seattle].

Printed sources: Seattle (Great Northern/William Vickers), 1987, Part 2; No. 320.

Recorded sources:

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