The “Durham Rangers” is the second in a set of Germans on Ceol Aduaidh (1983) by Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh and Frankie Kennedy: the set being “Maggie’s Lilt / The Durham Rangers /If We Hadn’t Any Women.” As a German this is a co. Donegal melody, and seems to belong to the “Bonaparte Crossing the Rhine” tune family. It is unclear to what or who the title refers since the “Durham Rangers” title does not appear in print until after the 1930s, when collected by Ian Jamieson of Galashiels. C.M. Matthews’ writes of the origin of the name “Durham,”[It is] first mentioned in the account of how Bishop Aldhun and his monks were guided by a dream to this hitherto unoccupied site in the year 995, and built on it the first little church as a shrine for St. Cuthbert’s remains. This was written about the year 1000. The name was then Dunholm, consisting apparently of the English dun, a hill, to which the Danish word holmr, used generally for a flat-topped island, was added; the rocky eminence is almost surrounded by the river Wear. The normal development of this would have been to a sound like Dunnam, possibly spelt Dunham, but the place became pre-eminently a stronghold of the Normans and under their influence the ‘n’ changed to ‘r’. The final result is a strong, simple sound that has the advantage of being unique in England (from C.M. Matthews, Place Names of the English-Speaking World, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1972).
The melody seems to be from the Morpeth, Northumberland fiddler Robert Whinham (1814-1893), as reported in Graham Dixon, et al., Remember Me: The Fiddle Music of Robert Whinham (Wallace Music, 1995). A German is a type of tune, and is closely allied with other types of tunes, including the barndance, the schottische, the rant, and the fling.
For the ABC click Durham Rangers
(The Merry) Durham Rangers, slow tempo (fiddle, David Agee)
(The Merry) Durham Rangers, med tempo
(The Merry) Durham Rangers, the dots
(The Merry) Durham Rangers, German in D