Thursday 8 December 2016

Historic bagpipe chanter returns

Published 30/11/2010 | 12:45

Grace Welden, distant relative of Iain Dall MacKay, holds the oldest known Highland bagpipe chanter
Grace Welden, distant relative of Iain Dall MacKay, holds the oldest known Highland bagpipe chanter

The oldest Highland bagpipe chanter has returned to Scotland after more than 200 years in Canada.

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It belonged to 17th century composer Iain Dall MacKay, whose grandson emigrated to Nova Scotia with it in 1805.

There it was handed down through the family for eight generations.

The MacKay Sinclair family recently decided to return it to Scotland in respect of its significance to musical history, and have donated it to National Museums Scotland.

The chanter, the bagpipe's melody pipe, is on show at the National Piping Centre in Glasgow, where a part of the museum's piping collection is displayed.

Michael Sinclair, who has donated the chanter, said: "There's great scholarship in piping associated with the museum and we felt that it would be a good location for the chanter to be seen and appreciated by young pipers.

"We hope that its story will inspire them in their piping schooling."

Experts said that the chanter is one of the world's oldest dateable relics of the Highland bagpipe tradition and is key to the understanding of that history.

Though it is considered the "golden age" of Gaelic piping, few instruments survive from the 17th century, so the chanter will become the most historically important item in the collection.

Iain Dall MacKay (1656-1754) was born at Talladale, Loch Maree and was known as "The Blind Piper of Gairloch".

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