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Subject: Re: Cruit (cont.)
From: Deborah White <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Scholars and students of Old Irish <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 7 Nov 2000 09:08:29 -0800

text/plain (85 lines)

A Dhonncha 's a Chairde,

> DIL cites the following from the mid-8th century Würzburg glosses
> on the Pauline epistles:

Thank you so much, Dennis, for the timely and specific information.

I found what follows in a variety of sources (listed):

1. "The Sutton Hoo type of lyre was variously known as choros, chrotta,
rotta, cruit, croud, and in Wales into modern times as the crwth...."

_The World of Medieval & Renaissance Musical Instruments_ by Jeremy Montagu
(The Overlook Press, Woodstock, 1976)

(For those of you who haven't seen a picture of the Sutton Hoo lyre, it's
long and oval-shaped, with an opening in the upper middle across which six
strings [attached to tuning pegs at the top] are strung -- leading down
across the bridge and attaching to the tailpiece at the bottom. There is no

2. "The word harp itself probably derives from an Indo-European root meaning
'to pluck'. Regional names included the Irish *cruit*, the Scottish
*clàrsach*, and the Welsh *telyn*, whilst the Medieval theorists used
*lyra*, *harpa*, *chrotta*, and *cythara*. As late as 1511 Sebastian Virdung
complained: 'What one man calls a harp, another calls a lyre'."

"Galpin cites an old Gaelic legend in which a Druid chieftain invokes his
magic *crot* (meaning lyre) during a battle which supposedly took place in
the year 1800 B.C.

'The effect of the Druid's performance was truly wonderful: the story tells
how, in order to discover the fate of a favourite musician, he and two
comrades had penetrated into the camp of the enemy, where they found the
lyre hanging in the banqueting hall. At the voice of the Druid it leaped
from the wall and came to him at once, killing nine persons on its way. On
it he played the three great musical strains of his nation: at the sound of
the first tears filled all eyes; with the second he overcame them with
uncontrollable laughter; and finally, with the third, he sent the entire
host to sleep, during whih the three champions made good their escape with
the magic Crot'."

_Instruments of the Middle Ages and Renaissance_ by David Munrow (Oxford
University Press, Oxford, 1976)

3. "...the Gaelic term used nowadays for the Celtic harp -- 'clarsach' --
first appears in the fifteenth century. Neither 'cruit' nor 'tiompan' is
Pictish, for no Pictish survives in interpretable form. Broadly one might
opt for the word 'cruit' as a generic term for stringed instruments...."

_Scotland's Music_ by John Purser (Mainstream Publishing Company, Edinburgh,

4. "The triangular harp did not take over overnight from the lyre. The
application of the word 'cruit' to the new instrument may have reflected
the fact that it took over as the instrument of high status, a process
which may have taken many decades.

"The history of musical instruments and their names is littered with
usurpations and confusions.

"Venantius Fortunatus, a 6th century cleric who became Bishop
of Poitiers wrote in an elegy to a ruler:

Romanusque lyra plaudat tibi,/Barbarus harpa,/Graechus
achilliaca,/chrotta Britanna canat.

Lyra, harpa, achilliaca and chrotta are all words for lyre. We know from
archaeology and iconography that the Britons and the Irish had lyres
and no harps at that time (6th century). In medieval and later
Irish/Scottish Gaelic 'cruit' is applied to the new instrument ; in
Welsh 'crwth' was applied to the lyre (before and after the introduction
of the bow) and a new word (telyn) used for the newer frame harp. Lyres
become rare in Irish iconography but appear commonly in Welsh literature
and legal documents until the 18th century. Three genuine 'crythau'

--e-mail from Bob Evans in Wales

Any further thoughts? The word obviously means different things to different
people at different points in time!


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