Nippin Grund (Da)

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NIPPIN GRUND, DA (The Nipping Ground). Shetland, Shetland Reel. Shetland, (islands of) Unst and Yell. G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The reel is said to have come to Whalsay from the island of Unst, and is attributed to late 19th century Unst fiddler and composer Friedemann Stickle (b. 1780). Pat Shuldham-Shaw was of the opinion it was "probably composed" by Friedemann.

"The Nippin Grund is a Fishermans Meathe," notes Shetland collector, teacher, and fiddler Tom Anderson in his book Ringing Strings (1983). A note in Old-lore Miscellany of Orkney, Shetland, Caithness and Sutherland (Vol. VI, Part 1, Jan., 1913, p. 6) explains:

"Da Nippin' grund" is the name of a haaf raith, or fishing ground (O.N. reitr); probably derived from the land marks or meiths. Numerous headlands are called da "Noup"; da "Niv"; da "Neep"; or da "Neb." We find fishing grounds or raiths named "Dw Wart an' da Nour," "Da Heug an' da Rimble," "Scord i' da broo," "Da lache laand i' da Otsta," etc. All these are derived from the land marks. This reel was said to be composed by a fiddler at Norwick, Unst, while at the haaf, andowin' at da bow (buoy) on Da Nippin' grund.

Pat Shaw said the "Nipping Ground" apparently was applied to a fishing ground that had a hard, stony bottom. Another (non-Shetland) meaning of meathe is a type of 'mead', a liquor made from fermented honey. The following recipe was printed in 1669 in London in a volume entitled Recipes from The Closet of the Eminently Learned Sir Kenelme Digbie Kt Opened: Whereby is Discovered Several ways for making of Metheglin, Sider, Cherry-Wine, &c. together with Excellent Directions for Cookery: As also for Preserving, Conserving, Candying, &c.:

To every quart of Honey, take four quarts of water. Put your water in a clean Kettel over the fire, and with a stick take the just measure, how high the water cometh, making a notch, where the superficies toucheth the stick. As soon as the water is warm, put in your Honey, and let it boil, skimming it always, till it be very clean; Then put to every Gallon of water, one pound of the best Blew-raisins of the Sun, first clean picked from the stalks, and clean washed. Let them remain in the boiling Liquor, till they be thoroughly swollen and soft; Then take them out, and put them into a Hair-bag, and strain all the juice and pulp and substance from them in an Apothecaries Press; which put back into your liquor, and let it boil, till it be consumed just to the notch you took at first, for the measure of your water alone. Then let your Liquor run through a Hair-strainer into an empty Woodden-fat, which must stand endwise, with the head of the upper end out; and there let it remain till the next day, that the liquor be quite cold. Then Tun it up into a good Barrel, not filled quite full, but within three or four fingers breadth; (where Sack hath been, is the best) and let the bung remain open for six weeks with a double bolter-cloth lying on it, to keep out any foulness from falling in. Then stop it up close, and drink not of it till after nine months.

This Meathe is singularly good for a Consumption, Stone, Gravel, Weak-fight, and many more things. A Chief Burgomaster of Antwerp, used for many uears to drink no other drink but this; at Meals and all times, even for pledging of healths. And though He were an old man, he was of extraordinary vigor every way, and had every year a Child, had always a great appetite, and good digestion; and yet was not fat. [1][1]

Source for notated version: John Stickle (1875-1957, Unst/Lerwick) [Shuldham-Shaw

Printed sources: Anderson (Ringing Strings), 1983; p. 72. Pat Shuldham-Shaw, "A Shetland Fiddler and His Repertoire: John Stickle 1875-1957", Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, vol. 9, no. 3, Dec. 1962; p. 144.

Recorded sources: Folktrax Records FTX-068, Bill Sandison - "Da Mirrie Boys: Shetland Fiddle Music" (1978. Recorded by Patrick Shuldham-Shaw in Shetland 1950-52).

See also listing at:
Hear tune tune played by Shetland fiddler Anderew Poleson at Tobar an Dualchais [2] [3]

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