County Durham

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Durham as presently defined is mostly associated with rapper sword dances and pit songs. However, the county historically includes the Tyneside connurbation south of the river Tyne, and therefore shares in the vibrant song culture of that area, described briefly in Northumberland. Gateshead was also the home of Geordie Ridley of Blaydon Races fame, and James Hill, the famous Tyneside fiddler and composer. In the current revival, the traditional pit songs have come mostly from Jack Elliott of Birtley, and Bert Draycott of Fishburn, who is also a prolific songwriter. Foremost among revival singers are Louis Killen and Bob Davenport, both Gateshead men. Rapper sword dancing has been particularly strong in the Gateshead area, where Swalwell, Winlaton, and High Spen are the longest established sides, and whose dances are an essential part of the rapper repertoire. The boxing day Greatham Sword Dance, from the Hartlepool area, is the most northerly example of the English longsword tradition.

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