The Cullivoe style of fiddle playing can be directly traced back well over 100 years, however it undoubtedly takes it’s roots from much further back still.  The distinctive sound of the local tunes, mostly reels, derives from the unusual tuning of the fiddle (ADAE instead of the conventional GDAE) and the lively bowing of the style.  (The bowing was once described by Willie Barclay Henderson as ‘like wippin a screw o coarn’.)

    There are 6 members of the group today.  The two senior members, Angus Henry and John Henderson were taught to play by John’s father Willie Barclay Henderson (1900-1977) and Bobby Jamieson (1892-1977).  From the 1910s until the 1970s Willie and Bobby were the foremost fiddlers in North Yell, playing at almost all local dances and weddings until the 50s and 60s when the accordion became more popular.

    Willy and Bobby were taught in turn by Brucie Danielson (1869-1930), the earliest known player of the style and a fiddler of high repute in his day.

    Other notable  fiddlers playing in the Cullivoe style in the past were Nicky Tulloch (1881-1949); Simpson Henderson (1888-1970); Davie Henry (1903-1993); Ian Anderson (1929-2003); Magnus Henderson (1930-1983); Robert John Henderson (1932-1971).


Brucie Danielson (1869 - 1930)

Nicky Tulloch (1881 - 1949)

    The Cullivoe fiddlers have enjoyed many revivals since the 1960s; In the 1970s visits from Tammy Anderson and Peter Cook from the School of Scottish Studies led to appearances at the Kinross Folk Festival in 1972, 2 tracks on an LP record,  Scottish Tradition 4: Shetland Fiddle Music, and a study of the style published in a book ‘ The Fiddle Tradition of the Shetland Isles’.

    In the 1990s interest was again boosted by the visit of Catriona MacDonald’s summer schools and a trip to Edinburgh for Fiddle ’98.

    More recently the fiddlers have achieved a higher profile through trips to Faroe and Sweden, and more local events such as the Fiddle Frenzy events in 2004 and 2005.

    Hopefully with the production of a CD and today's improved communication this unique style will continue to thrive.




Send mail to david@cullivoefiddlers.shetland.co.uk with questions or comments about this web site.
Copyright © 2006 The Cullivoe Traditional Fiddlers
Last modified: April 29, 2007