Hey Femm readers. Tonight, I want to share with you guys a brief history of the Scottish Bagpipes. I’ll start off with their origins, their use in war, and other historical facts. The instrument has been known by many different names such as the Highland Pipes, the War Pipes, and the Great Pipes. This is one of the most ancient instruments still used today. Of course, it has gone through some modifications over the years. The pipes date as far back as 1 C.E.
Despite its namesake, the pipes were first played by the Greeks and Romans. It is even known that the infamous Roman Emperor, Nero, played them. During the Middle Ages, it was the most common instrument of central, southern, and western Europe. The Celts, (The ancient Irish, Scottish, British, and Welsh peoples) were the first to use them during their invasions. A French artillery officer in 1549 wrote, “Wild Celts encourage themselves in battle by the sounds of their bagpipes. Accompanying warring clans on raids pipers played martial themes; which applied to the warlike spirit of the people and was known to frighten the enemy.”
A court judge in 1746 wrote, “A Highland regiment has never marched without a piper, therefore his bagpipe in the eyes of the law is an instrument of war.” The pipes were for a time outlawed causing rebels to carry on in secret. They were outlawed by the loyalist government during the Jacobite Uprising of 1745. During this time, they played Piobaireachd, (which is a classic bagpipe tune), until years later they were no longer outlawed. Throughout history the pipes have been played at wakes, (Celtic funerals) weddings, wars, festivals, on St. Patrick’s Day, and during the Highland games.
I love listening to bagpipe music. It has such an original sound. I have heard a bagpipe be played live before and let me tell you something, those things are loud; especially if the piper is close by. If I first heard those pipes being played during ancient times on the battlefield before I could even see the Celtic army I would probably think some form of monster was coming. Two of my favorite songs played on the bagpipes is Scotland the Brave and Amazing Grace. Bagpipes are also accompanied by marching drums in some songs as well.