Bagpipes blow in from France for display

One of the world’s finest collections of bagpipes and practice chanters have come to Scotland as part of a major exhibition.

Twenty six pieces, recently purchased from a private collector in France by the University will form part of a display that charts 250 years of bagpipe history.

An insight into piping history

The instruments, from Scotland, England and Ireland - bought with the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund - will become part of the University’s musical instruments collection once the exhibition is over.

The display will illustrate that bagpipes are not just a Scottish passion. Instruments from Northumberland and Ireland will be showcased alongside border, lowland and highland pipes from Scotland.

Exhibits have been brought from England, France and the US for the display. Others have been loaned by the National Museums of Scotland and Glasgow City Council.

International Collections

The oldest exhibit is a fragment of lowland pipes, dating from the mid-18th century, which became part of a set of highland pipes in the 1850s.

A Victorian walking stick, with a practice chanter at the top and a drone at the bottom, is among the more unusual exhibits on display. The instrument enabled gentleman to play music while indulging in country pursuits.

Other highlights include a set of ceremonial highland pipes - dating from between 1770 and 1780 - which belonged to the piper to the Duke of Montrose. A set of border pipes used by the piper to the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland will also feature.

Some of the exhibits borrowed from international collections were made by the Glen family of Edinburgh, a celebrated bagpipe making dynasty.

The exhibition aims to give visitors a nuanced understanding of piping history in the British Isles. The instruments themselves have been far more varied than many realise.

Sarah DetersExhibition curator and PhD music student

The Piper’s Whim: A history of bagpipe making in England, Scotland and Ireland runs from 1-31 August at St Cecilia’s Hall, Cowgate, Edinburgh. It is open Tuesdays to Sundays, from 10am until 5pm. Admission is free.

Related Links

The Piper’s Whim

University Collections

Musical Instrument Museums Edinburgh (MIME)

School of Music