music in the army



My Family name Millmoor is Irish but my Mothers name Davidson is definitely Scottish.

Davidson, This clan associated themselves and took protection of and under William Mackintosh (V11.) of Mackintosh prior to 1350, and have ever since been regarded as a sept of Clan Chattan.

Kinrara, in his history (1676), says "The Davidsons, styled of Invernahaven, in Badenoch, were, according to common tradition, originally a branch of the Comyns." After the downfall of the Comyns, Donald Dhu of Invernahaven associated himself with Clan Chattan, married a daughter of Angus (V1.) of Mackintosh, and became a leading member of Clan Chattan. The favour shown to him by the Captain of Clan Chattan roused the jealousy of another tribe, a jealousy which brought about the virtual extinction of the Davidsons.

The Davidsons, called Clann Da idh from their first know leader, David Dhu of Invernahaven, were chief actors in the two notable battles 9 Invernahaven (1370) and the North Inch of Perth (1396)-and the losers in both battles.

The leading families are the Davidsons of Cantray, in Inverness, and the Davidsons of Tulloch, in Ross0-shire.

About the year 1700 Alexander Davidson of Davidson, in Cromarty, married Miss Bayne of Tulloch, and purchased the estate from his father-in-law. The Baynes of Tulloch were for many generations of great position and influence in Ross-shire. Tulloch Castle is of ancient date, the keep having been built in 1466, and other parts of it in 1665. A branch of this family entered the service of France in the 17th century, having proved their descent to be noble for six generations prior to July 1629, as shown by the Livre d'Or in the imperial archives of France.

The Davidsons are said to have been almost annihilated at the Battle of the North Inch, Perth in 1396.

Davidson of Tulloch was latterly regarded as chief, but his estates have passed in the female line to Mrs. Vickers, who has not taken up the name and arms of Davidson, so the representation lies dormant.  There is a Davidson Association entitles Clan Dhai, which has recorded arms in Lyon Court. 

The MacCrimmons. Are they the great pipers of the past???

Much stress has been laid on the role of piping dynasties in the creation and dissemination of the music but a good deal of our information, especially about the earlier pipers, is at best approximate. The idea of families of brilliantly endowed teachers and composers following one another in strict succession back into the misty reaches of time fitted neatly into the romanticised notion of Highland society which developed during the nineteenth century: but the evidence is fragmentary and, for times much earlier than about 1700, largely traditional. The MacCrimmonds of Sky are nowadays regarded as piping's royal family, but it was only from about the middle of the nineteenth century that they began to appear routinely in written sources as pre-eminent players, composers and teachers. The account was expanded by subsequent writers step by step until it reached its current position in which they are considered - on the basis of very little evidence - as the leading composers of piobaireached and the inventors of the form. Similarly, the MacCrimmon 'succession' was extended to push the foundation of their college ever further back in time, and there was much fanciful speculation about their origins - that they had originally been Irish, Norse, or even Italian. 

In the earliest accounts of the music, only a handful of tunes are attributed to MacCrimmon composers: but during the neneteenth and twentieth centuries, the MacCrimmon 'repertoire' grew as many tunes connected with Skye or the MacLeods were casually attributed to them. The competition for the Silver Chanter, a leading invitational event held annually at Dunvegan Castle, stipulates that contestants must play a 'MacCrimmon' peobaireachd: but the tunes nowadays recognised as such have seldom any tangible connection with the family.

Similarly, the 'MacCrimmon crest' - 'a hand holding a pipe chanter, with a motto "Cogadh no Sith" - Peace or war.   The bearings   on a field argent, a chevron azure, charged with a lion passant or, between three cross croslets fitchee, gules' - made its first appearance in the Clans of the Scottish Highlands in 1847, and probably sprang from the fertile brain of the book's compiler, Aberdonian journalist James Logan. Yet there are references to MacCrimmon pipers in historical documents from various parts of Scotland from the sixteenth century onwards. While the succession in the important Skye familily is largely conjectural, we know a good deal about at least one of its later member, namely Donald Roy MacCrimmon who emigrated to Carolina and fought gallantly in the American Wars of Independence, were  he cut his way through Parties of the Rebels, & eluded their pursuit when 500 Dollars were offered for his Head. In the course of his Service he personally wrested in single Combat their Swords from three Commanding officers of the Enemy, laying their owners prostrate on the Earth, and sized three Stand of Colours. He also at the head of six men compelled the Surrender of a Privateer fully armed.

On his return to Scotland, Donald Roy was involved in ultimately abortive attempts to re-establish the MacCrimmon college on an official basis as an Army School of Piping.


Bagpipes by numbers

1 Bagpipes developed independently in parts of Europe and the Middle East around the same time. The earliest surviving written reference comes in the writings of the Athenian poet Aristophanes, who disdainfully mentioned that the pipers of Thebes played on instruments of dog skin and bone.

2 There are four vital components to modern pipes: a steady supply of air delivered down the blowpipe; an airtight bag (originally made from animal skin but now synthetic) which stores and controls the supply of air via squeezing; the chanter or melody pipe, played by one or two hands; and the drone a reeded pipe with a sliding joint to alter the pitch.

3 Bagpipes have long been popular as an instrument of war, both scaring the enemy and boosting the morale of the pipers' own side. During the Jacobite risings of 1745, possession of the pipes in Britain was punishable by death.

4 After leaving university, Alastair Campbell later to be Tony Blair's spinmeister-general busked his way round Europe with his bagpipes even basing an erotic essay on the experience.

5 There are more bagpipe players and pipe bands in New Zealand than in Scotland, largely as a result of Scottish migration in the 19th and 20th centuries.

6 The bagpipes made an unlikely appearance in Friends when Ross, played by David Scwhimmer, tried to learn to play them for his sister Monica's wedding.

7 Because of their limited range of just nine notes bagpipers can play only music specifically composed for the instrument. Sir Peter Maxwell Davies composed 'Orkney Wedding, With Sunrise' for the pipes in 1985 while musical satirist Peter Schickele featured them as one of his six instruments for the fictional PDQ Bach's Sinfonia Concertante.

8 The Emperor Nero was known not just for fiddling while Rome burned but also for his love of bagpipes. According to Suetonius, he once showed offered to play them in public after losing a poetry competition.

9 The noise of bagpipes can reach 111 decibels louder than a pneumatic drill.

10 In 2005 army health and safety inspectors called for soldiers to wear ear protectors while learning the instrument.

11 Bagpipes featured prominently on AC/DC's fist-pumping anthem It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Want to Rock 'n' Roll). The track featured on their three-million selling album High Voltage in 1976.

12 A mysterious bagpipe-wielding figure peers down from the central panel of Hieronymous Bosch's 15th century triptych The Epiphany, observing, apparently unseen, the Magi's adoration of the young Christ.

13 One of the earliest written records of the "great pipes" in Scotland came in 1623 when a man was prosecuted in Perth for playing them on the Sabbath.

14 The relationship between Cherie Blair and the Royal Family is said not to have been improved by the famous Balmoral ritual of a bagpiper playing a 6am reveille.

15 King Rama VI of Thailand ordered that the Great Highland Bagpipe replace the oboe as the official instrument of his elite Wild Tiger Corps.

16 An asthmatic teenager in Glasgow recently reported that his breathing problems had been radically improved since taking up the instrument. Scientists are investigating his claims.

17 The Gaida a form of bagpipes remains Bulgaria's national instrument, and it is common both in orchestras and at weddings.

18 Bagpipe standard Amazing Grace is often hailed as the most covered song in history, with more than 3,200 different recordings in existence . It was played at the funerals of Presidents Kennedy and Nixon, Joe DiMaggio and Sonny Bono.

19 The jazz musician Rufus Harley switched from saxophone to the bagpipes after watching the Black Watch play at President Kennedy's funeral, adapting the instrument to play jazz and blues.

20 Paul McCartney's bagpipe-based 'Mull of Kintyre' was his biggest ever hit. The 1977 single sold over 2 million copies, outstripping anything he had achieved with the Beatles and created the highest selling bagpipe track of all time.

Brussels slaps a noise order on Bagpipes!

THEIR high-pitched skirl has put fear into the hearts of Scotland�s enemies and sent sensitive tourists reaching for the cotton wool.

Now, however, the bagpipes are to be quietened by an edict from Brussels.

From this month, pipers must adhere to strict volume limits or risk breaking European Union health and safety laws. Bands have been ordered to tone down or wear earplugs to limit noise exposure to 85 decibels.

Typically, a pipe band played at full volume peaks at 122 decibels outdoors, noisier than the sound of either a nightclub or a chainsaw, which rises to 116 decibels.

The prospect of more subdued bagpipes will be welcomed by some, but musicians have warned performances will suffer.

Pipe majors claim it is virtually impossible to play quietly or to tune a band when the musicians are wearing earplugs, raising the prospect of a cacophony at showcase events such as the Edinburgh military tattoo.

The rules in effect limit practice without earplugs to about 15 minutes a day.

While piping schools have begun issuing students with hearing protectors, pipe majors are preparing to make a stand.

Ian Hughes, head of the RAF Leuchars band at an airbase in Fife, claimed the new legislation in effect outlawed bagpipe playing for the first time in more than 250 years.

The last time was after the Jacobite rising of 1745 and the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie's clansmen at the battle of Culloden.

"These limits are far too low. If we have to go with these regulations, pipe bands won't exist", said Hughes. "Every pipe band in the world will be above the maximum volume level.

Bringing in a law making pipers wear ear protection means the playing of pipes is outlawed. Earplugs take away the clarity of the sound and create a problem if you're trying to tune a band up to a certain standard.

"You can't play the pipe quietly; they haven't got a volume switch".

The rules are part of the control of noise at work regulations, introduced by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following a Brussels directive.

The rules cap weekly average noise exposure at 85 decibels, meaning periods of loud play need to be cancelled out by quiet periods. The idea is not to protect audiences at concerts but performers and other staff.

The new directive also affects rock and classical musicians. Classical orchestras are considering whether they may have to hold quiet rehearsals for music by composers such as Wagner or Verdi to offset the loudness of their concerts.

The loudest rock bands have included the Who, who in 1976 reached 126 decibels. They were beaten last year, however, by the Watford punk band Gallows, who hit 132.5 decibels.

Ian Lemmy  Kilmister, lead singer of Motorhead, the heavy metal band, said he would resist any attempt to force him to turn down the music.

"The essence of rock n roll is loud music, "he said. "How the hell can we be expected to enjoy ourselves if we've got to turn it down?".

"Audiences will see musicians in orchestras wearing earplugs in the future," said Mark Pemberton, director of the Association of British Orchestras. "We are also looking at other ways of reducing noise such as putting acoustic screens between musicians."

An HSE spokesman said: "If an employer discovers an employee has been exposed above the exposure defined in the regulations they must take action."

Who's the loudest?

Gallows punk band: 132 decibels

Boeing 747 taking off 100 yards away: 130 decibels

The Who, 1976 concert: 126 decibels

Pipe band: 122 decibels

Pneumatic drill: 120 decibels

Nightclub: 110 decibels

Orchestra performing Wagner's Ring Cycle: 110 decibels

Underground train: 94 decibels

Vacuum cleaner: 70 decibels

Normal conversation: 60 decibels

The Royal Scots is the oldest Regiment of the Line in the British Army. The official raising of the regiment was in 1633 when Sir John Hepburn, under a warrant given by King Charles I, recruited 1200 men in Scotland to fight in France. Their first Battle Honour was Tangier 1680 since when a further 148 have been gained in a history which has involved them in almost every campaign in which the British Army has fought, including Marlborough's battles, the Peninsular War, Waterloo, India, the Crimea and South Africa.
During World War I, the Regiment increased to a total of 35 battalions. Seventy nine Battle Honours and 6 VC's were awarded and battalions fought in all areas from the Western Front to Gallipoli, Palestine, Egypt and briefly Northern Russia.

At the start of World War II, the 1st Battalion was part of the BEF and after suffering heavy casualties covering the retreat to Dunkirk; many were taken prisoner; whilst the 2nd Battalion bore the brunt of the Japanese attack on Hong Kong. Battalions also fought in Burma, Italy and NW Europe. In post war years, they have seen active service in Korea, Cyprus, Egypt, Aden and the Gulf.
The Regiment recruits its soldiers from Edinburgh, the Lothian and the former county of Peeblesshire. The Regimental tartan is Hunting Stuart which is worn by all ranks except Pipers who wear the Sovereign's personal tartan, Royal Stuart, an honour granted by King George V to mark the tercentenary of the Regiment in 1933.


The Regiment was formed on the 20th January 1959 by the amalgamation of The Royal Scots Fusiliers and The Highland Light Infantry. Recruits are drawn from the City of Glasgow and Ayrshire. HRH Princess Margaret is the Colonel in Chief
The RSF were raised in 1678. Originally known as The Earl of Mar's Regiment, they had several name changes over the years: - Scots Fusiliers, 21st Royal North British Fusiliers, and finally Royal Scots Fusiliers.
The HLI were raised in 1777 as the 73 (Lord McLeod's) Highlanders, were renumbered 71st in 1786, and became the 71st Highland Light Infantry in 1809. Meanwhile the 74th Highland Regiment raised in 1787, had a separate existence until 1881 when it was amalgamated with the 71st to become the Highland Light Infantry.
The Regiment and its forebears have fought in most of the major campaigns over the years and carries more than 120 Battle Honours on its colours from Blenheim (1704) to The Gulf (1991).

The King's Own Scottish Border Regiment was mustered in 1689, originally called the Earl of Leven's.
The Borderers' military history dates back to honours in Namur in 1695, Gallipoli in 1915-16 and Dunkirk in 1940.During the turbulent days of 1689, when the citizens of Edinburgh were in a state of alarm at the prospect of an attack by Jacobite forces, David Earl of Leven was authorised 'with all expedition to levie one Regiment of Foot'. This he achieved in the remarkably short period of two hours. Named after him initially as 'Leven's Regiment', it was soon to be in action at the Battle of Killiecrankie. But this was not to be the Regiment's last conflict with the Jacobites, for it is unique in the Army in having also fought at Sherriffmuir in 1715 and at Culloden in 1746.
The King's Own Scottish Borderers are one of the six infantry regiments which 'gained immortal glory' at the Battle of Minden in 1759 by advancing against a superior force of French Cavalry. This battle commemorated annually on the first of August when the Regiment wear red roses in their headdress following the tradition that the soldiers had picked roses as they advanced through gardens before the battle. This custom was even observed by Borderers in 1944 when they mounted an attack on Minden Day during the invasion of Normandy - for they attached to their helmets the roses which they plucked from the hedgerows.

During the last fifty years the King's Own Scottish Borderers have seen action in Palestine, Korea, Malaya, Aden, Borneo and The Gulf.

The Cameronian Regiment the 26th of foot was raised in 1689 and took the name of Richard Cameron, a Covenanter, whose efforts to defend the Presbyterian Faith led ultimately to this capture and death in 1680.
In 1881 the Regiment was linked to the Perthshire Light Infantry, the 90th of foot, raised in 1794 in the Lowlands of Perthshire by Thomas Graham (later to become Lord Lynedoch) who achieved fame in the Pennisular War.
The Regiment took part in many campaigns around the world not least the terrible battle of Neuve Chapelle. It saw action in Burma, Sicily, and Italy and marched across Europe from Normandy to the Baltic. In more recent times the Regiment served in Trieste, Germany, Jordan, Kenya and Aden and took part in operations in Malaya, and the Arabian Peninsula.
In 1968, as part of the first round of Defence cuts the Regiment chose to disband rather than amalgamate with another Lowland Regiment.

Raised in 1725 as independent companies to police the Highlands. The name originated from the dark colour of the tartan and the role of watching the Highland clans.
The companies were formed into a Regiment in 1740 and were to become the 42nd Royal Highlanders after receiving the Royal Warrant in 1751.
A second battalion was raised which became a separate regiment, the 73rd - but in 1881 it reverted to become the 2nd Battalion of the Regiment again.
The distinctive Red Hackle was issued in 1795 a privilege exclusive to The Black Watch. 14 VCs Field Marshall Ear Wavell is the most renowned soldier of the Regiment.

Queen's Own Highlanders were an amalgamation of three of the famous Highland regiments raised in the late 18th Century; The 72nd Highlanders (Duke of Albany's Own), The 78th Highlanders (Ross-shire Buffs) and the 79th Cameron Highlanders, who became Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders in 1873.
The 72nd Highlanders were originally numbered for the 78th Highlanders; they were recruited by the Earl of Seaforth mainly from Ross-shire and Lewis, and first mustered at Elgin in 1778. They were subsequently renumbered as the 72nd Highlanders. In 1881 they were amalgamated with the 78th Highlanders (Ross-shire Buffs) to become the 1st Battalion Seaforth Highlanders. The 78th has the emblem of the Assaye Elephant in India in 1803, and the 79th has the Sphinx for their service in Egypt in 1801.
On 7 February 1961 the Seaforth Highlanders and The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders were amalgamated to form the Queen's Own Highlanders (Seaforth, and Cameron's).
From its formation 1st Battalion Queen's Own Highlanders has served all over the world. Its operational duty has included the Brunei revolt in 1962, the confrontation campaign in Borneo, patrolling the Hong Kong border, the rehabilitation of the Falklands Islands and the Gulf War and many tours of Northern Ireland. Other services abroad included Germany and Berlin, Sharjah, Belize, with regular training exercises in Canada and the USA.
Under the 1980s programme of Defence cuts, Queen's Own Highlanders were amalgamated on 17 September, 1994, with the Gordon Highlanders to form The Highlanders (Seaforth, Gordon's and Cameron's).

Raised by the 4th Duke of Gordon in 1794, The Gordon Highlanders, numbered the 100th, traditionally recruited from the North East of Scotland. The raising of the Regiment was famously assisted by the Duchess Jean who is said to have offered a kiss to prospective recruits with a guinea between her lips.
In 1798 the Gordon's were numbered the 92nd. The Sphinx emblem was awarded for services against the French armies in Egypt in 1801 and the Tiger emblem in 1807 in recognition of the 75th's service in India. Further honours were earned in the Peninsular War and in 1815, the 92nd fought at Quatre Bras and Waterloo, taking part in the famous 'Scotland for Ever' charge with the Scots Greys.
Service further afield then brought honours in India and Afghanistan and, following amalgamation with the 75th in 1881, the Gordons earned further fame for their victory at the Dargai Heights , where two of the Regiment's 19 Victoria Crosses were won' later six VC's were won during the Boer War.
In the twentieth century, Gordon battalions have fought with distinction and great sacrifice through the two World Wars and have since been involved in operations throughout the world in Malaya, Cyprus, Borneo and Northern Ireland and service in Germany, Singapore and Berlin.
Under the 1980s programme of Defence cuts, The Gordon Highlanders were amalgamated on 17 September 1994 with the Queen's Own Highlanders to form The Highlanders (Seaforth, Gordons and Camerons).

The Argyllshire Highlanders, or 91st, were raised on the 10th February 1794. Five years after the raising of the 91st another Highland Corps came into being, this was the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders.
For the next eighty years both Regiments fought with distinction all over the world. The 91st served in South Africa and in the Peninsula against Napoleon, during the course of which nine battle honours were gained.
The 93rd's most famous actions were in the Crimea at Alma, Sevastopol and Balaklava where they earned the nickname of the 'Thin Red Line'. During the Indian Mutiny they took part in the relief of Lucknow and won seven Victoria Crosses, six in one day. They also played a heroic part in the Battle of New Orleans.
Between 1881 and 1914 the two Battalions continued to see active service in India and the Boer War in South Africa, where the 1st Battalion earned a further three Battle Honours.
During the First World War the Regiment raised 7 Battalions, of which 2 Regular, 5 Territorial and 4 service Battalions fought with great distinction in France and Flanders and the Middle East. A further 6 Victoria Crosses were won.
From 1919 to 1939 the two Battalions saw service in India, Egypt, Sudan, Jamaica, China and Hong Kong.
In the Second World War the 1st Battalion fought in Africa, Crete, Abyssinia, Sicily and Italy. the 2nd Battalion fought with great gallantry in Malaya and Singapore. A further two Victoria Crosses were won during the war.




Music in the Army,

In clan warfare the piper had been a key figure. He played on the actual field of battle, In 1760 In defence of Quebec, General James Murrays Highlanders were being beaten back, The pipers on being ordered to play, the Highlanders returned and formed with great determination. we have lots of stories of Pipers on the field of battle. There was George Clark, at Vimeira in 1808 playing on the ground long after he had been wounded in the groin. John MacLauchlan, the first man to reach the top of the walls at Badajoz in 1812. He was killed in the following year, while playing at Vittoria. Kenneth MacKay who played the old pibroch Cogadh no Sith around the outside of the British Square at Waterloo, and many many more.

Some writers seem to have assumed that the piper playing on the field chose a particular tune that would be know to the men: even a prescribed signal tune for the charge. In later times, regiments did in fact specify tunes for this purpose, but whether anyone remembered them in the heat of the moment is another matter. After the Battle of Tel-el-Kebir in 1882. The Piper was asked what tune he had played as they charged forward. He said, "I just played "the Braies of Mar", and then anything that came into ma heid" On manoevres, or in camp, however, tunes were laid down for the various standing orders. The earliest know list of such tunes, dated 1778, contains five pieces, all of which can be identified as pibrochs. Gathering. was Coagive na Shea "War or Peace". Revellee was Glais Vair. "The Finger Look". The Troop was Boadach na brigishin "The carles with the breeks". Retreat was Gilly Christie. "The raid of Kilchrist". and the Tatoo was Molly defshit Mahary, "Mary's Praise".

They all knew that "The paramount duty of the piper was indeed to play the men into battle and to keep playing as long as he was able. Not until well into the First World War did the authorities finally decide that pipers were too valuable in their supporting role to be risked in the front line. As late as 1918 an officer  wrote that not only were pipers too difficult to replace, but that also, "When the men heard the pipes they would lose control of themselves, and in their eagerness to get forward would be apt to rush into their own barrage.

When Highland soldiers began to be recruited into the army, whether Scottish or English, pro-Government or rebel, pipers came with them. This seems to be quite certain, and if the records of the fact are patchy, it is most likely because the pipers existed on a semi-honorary footing, paid by individual officers, and not on the official payrol. The Scots Guards wrote in 1671. "With us any Captain may keep a piper in his Company, and maintain him too, for no pay is allowed him - perhaps just as much as he deserveth"

What is clear in all the early references is that the pipers were posted as individuals, to different companies, and this being so, it seems likely that for most of their duties they would have played solo. It is equally clear that the authorities, whether they liked them or not, accepted the pipers as essential, if Highland soldiers were to be brought under military discipline. A Captain was ordered to add a piper and a drummer to his corps, "as the men could scarcely be brought to march without them. 

it is interesting to find some degree of uniformaiity between regiments, at least as regards the most - used tunes. 'Reveille' is always 'Johnny Cope', the call to a meal, especially breakfast, is 'brose and Butter', the March Past is often, 'Highland Laddie', marching out of the Barracks, 'MacDonal's awa' tae the Wars', Lights Out, 'Soldier Lie doon'


At one time, gunpowder was used to determine the strength of Whisky,

Q. What's Black & Brown and looks good on a piper?

A. A Doberman Pincher.

The Highland Dress and How to Wear it.

Kilt. If a member of a clan possessing one or more tartans, such as "clan," "hunting," or "dress," the person should wear his own tartan either "clan," "hunting," or "dress," or a combination of the first two. Of course on "dress occasions" the "dress" tartan is generally worn. If belonging to a sept of any clan, he should wear the tartan of the clan of which he is a sept, if the sept has no special tartan of its own. If the sept has a special tartan, he should wear it. When the wearer is entitled to both a "clan" and a "district" tartan it is admissible to wear kilt and hose of the latter and doublet or plaid of the former. It is not considered proper to combine either "clan" or "hunting" tartan with "dress" tartan. If one is to wear "dress" tartan, the kilt, plaid, and hose must be uniform.



There is little that students of highland dress agree on about the sgian dubh, even its spelling. It is seen as skein dubh, sgian dhub, skene du, skean dhu and skhian dubh, and doubtless others. Phonetically, it is pronounced skein or skeen doo. The meaning, however, is clear: sgian means knife or dagger, dubh means black. There is some discussion about the meaning of black in this connotation. Some feel that black comes from the usual color of the handle of the little knife, but the great majority feel that it means secret, or hidden, as in the word blackmail. This is rooted in one of the prominent theories about the knife's origin.This theory contends that the sgian dubh evolved from the sgian achlais (ochles), the armpit dagger mentioned in connection with the Scots in the 17th and 18th centuries. This was a knife slightly larger than today's sgian dubh that was carried in the upper sleeve of the jacket and drawn from the inside through the armhole, or possibly in the lining of the body of the jacket under the left arm; the references are unclear. I believe, but have no proof, that this is the same knife that a Scottish woman would have carried under the apron of her wrap-around "kilted" skirt, along with her purse. Just as with any man, a woman would have had to carry her own eating utensils. Mary MacGregor makes good use of one in the recent movie Rob Roy.

No knife still exists that can be identified as a sgian achlais, so that is no help. However, this does fit the description of a secret, or "black" knife. Courtesy of the day demanded that, when entering the home of a friend, no weapons could remain concealed. It is logical that when the sgian achlais was removed from its hiding place, the stocking top was a convenient place to display it, securely held by the garter.

A second theory holds that the sgian dubh evolved from the small skinning knife that was part of the typical set of hunting or gralloch knives. Some of these do exist. There is usually a butchering knife with a blade of 9-10 inches and a skinner with a blade of only 3 1/2-4 inches. These gralloch knives usually had antler handles, and so do not fit the term black in either color or carry. This theory does have two points in its favor, however. First, many early sgian dubhs are fitted with antler or horn handles. Secondly, the skinning and butchering of wild game after the successful hunt was usually undertaken by the upper-class hunter's ghillie, literally "boy" in Gaelic, as in serving boy. The huntsman would not stoop to such work. It may have been a hangover of this attitude that had officers in the military regiments resist the carrying of sgian dubhs, as they were initially considered fit only for "ghillies and serving rascals."


Q. What's the range of a Bagpipe?

A. Twenty yards if you have a good throwing arm.

Favourite Champion pipers 

WILLIAM McCALLUM, from Campbeltown, Argyllshire, he is one of the most successful and versatile competitive pipers of his generation. He was taught by his uncles Ronald and Hugh.
Willie McCallum's competitive record is noted for its consistent heights. Having won the gold medals at the Northern Meeting and Argyllshire Gathering, he has gone on to win a string of prestigious senior-level events, many of them several times over. He holds the record of seven Glenfiddich Championship title wins.
He is one of the regular instructors at the Ontario School of Piping in Aurora, Canada.
In addition to his five solo recordings, he is featured on 14 albums of competition prize-winners.

RODDY MACLEOD is the Principal of the National Piping Centre. He has won every solo piping award including the Glenfiddich Piping Championships on three occasions, Gold Medals at Oban and Inverness, Former Winners MSR at Oban and Inverness, the Clasp at Inverness on two occasions and Bi-centenary medal, the Silver Chanter on three occasions and the London Bratach Gorm four times.
In 2003 he was awarded the MBE for services to piping and in 2004 he won the Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Music Award. He was Pipe Major of the Scottish Power pipe band for 10 years from 1995 until 2005 during which time the band appeared in the prize list of virtually every major Grade 1 championship.


Gordon J Walker is one of the world's premier solo pipers and comes from a piping background. With two uncles who served both as pipers in the Scots Guards, it was natural he would follow them into the military. He served 16 years with the 1st Btn. The Royal Highland Fusiliers (Princess Margaret's Own Glasgow and Ayrshire Regiment) and saw active service in the Gulf War and operational tours of duty in Bosnia and Northern Ireland.

Before retiring from the Army in October 1999 after a distinguished career, he was the Lone Piper at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo and personal piper to the Lord Provost of Glasgow. He was awarded his Pipe Majors Certificate in 1989 at the Army School of Piping in Edinburgh Castle with which he passed with distinguished honours, and holds all the teaching qualifications of the Institute of Piping.

He hails from Cumnock in Ayrshire where he received tuition from the late Pipe Major David Kay, a brilliant tutor, and then in turn from Pipe Major Iain M Morrison Queen�s Own Highlanders, and Captain Andrew Pitkeathly Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, formerly personal piper to HM Queen Elizabeth II and a Director of the Army Bagpipe Music. A full time piping instructor with The Piping Centre, Gordon maintains that �we must keep the teaching going, passing on our knowledge is a vital part of our Scottish heritage, and we cannot lose that�.


Q. How many competition Judges does it take to change a light Bulb?

A. None. But rest assured they'll find something wrong with the way YOU do it.

Q. How many Scotsmen does it take to change a Light Bulb?

A. Och!  It's no that Dark!


History of Scottish Dance.

Unlike other dance mediums, Highland dances are generally danced solo and in competition. Dancers typically dance to traditional Scottish music such as Strathspeys, Reels, Hornpipes, and Jigs all played by an accompanying bagpiper. The dances are made up of different parts, called steps and there are usually four or six steps to a dance.

Highland Dancing was traditionally performed by men, often before battle or other military pursuits, but is now performed by men and women. It is one of few arenas where men and women compete equally. In most competitions, the number of women competing far exceeds the number of men.

Highland Dancing is a healthy workout for adults and for children. It is a great way to develop good coordination, posture and overall muscle tone, not to mention aerobic capacity and strength.  Ambitious new students develop self-discipline and confidence as they learn to tackle the physical demands of Highland dancing. Indeed, the tremendous strength, stamina, and technical precision that accomplished dancers exhibit on stage comes from years of independent training and collaboration with experienced teachers.

In addition to perpetuating a great cultural tradition, highland dancers appreciate the athletic challenges, competitive goals, performance opportunities as well as the opportunity to meet and become lifelong friends with dancers from other areas, both nationally and internationally, that participation in this ethnic art form/sport affords them.

Scottish Highland dancing is one of the oldest forms of dance, it is thought to date back to the 11th century. Highland Dancing is the traditional solo dancing of Scotland, and should not be confused with Scottish country dancing the social dance of the country. Both modern ballet and square dancing can trace their roots back to the Highlands.

Unfortunately, the origins of Highland Dancing are shrouded in antiquity and legend. Little academic research has been undertaken into this beautiful and important art form in part, because very little was recorded,
as Highland culture was largely an oral culture, with song and traditions passed down by word of mouth. As a result, numerous stories abound regarding the source of the dances, and many are in conflict with each
other. I will therefore give both the history, which is commonly accepted among teachers and judges, as well as some of the legends and stories with which I grew up in order that more information is not lost. Many of the legends are beautiful and inspiring to young dancers, and should be recorded for the future.
Highland Dancing is said to have been created by a young boy, when he was out hunting deer. The boy watched a buck jumping around in a field the sight was so beautiful he could not bring himself to kill the deer. So he returned home with no food. When asked why he had nothing for his family to eat, the boy could not find the words to describe how beautiful the stag had been so he danced instead, his hands held aloft like the stags antlered head.

According to tradition, the old kings and chiefs of Scotland, used Highland dancing as a way of choosing men for their retinue and men at arms. Dancing was one of the ways men were tested on agility, strength, stamina and accuracy. Scottish regiments used Highland Dancing as exercise to keep the troops in shape, and ready for battle. The dances are indeed excellent exercise; for example, in a typical six-step Highland Fling, a dancer will jump vertically 192 times (the equivalent of running a mile), while performing complicated and intricate footwork, and using the muscles from head to toe. Highland dancing is therefore akin to sprinting, with dancers using fast-twitch muscle, which is also required by soldiers. The regiments did not just dance six steps they danced upwards of 20 steps in one dance! The leaps were said to be used to leap over a sword trust at their heart.

Originally only men were allowed to do these dances. In the late 19th century a young woman named Jenny Douglas decided to enter a Highland dance competition. As this was not expressly forbidden, she was allowed to enter. Later during the World Wars, women began dancing more often wanting to preserve their rich culture and history, while the men were defending their homeland. Since then the number of females participating in the sport has increased until today in excess of 95% of all dancers are female.

The Highland Fling-

As with the Sword Dance, this is probably the oldest of the traditional dances of Scotland - signifying victory following a battle. It was danced on a targe, a circular shield of wood with the front covered in tough hide, and the back in deer or sheepskin. The targe weighed approximately five pounds, and was strong enough to withstand the thrust of a bayonet.
The front of the shield was decorated with brass studs and plates, and had a long spike in the centre around which the dancer would dance flicking of the feet, jumping and careful stepping supposedly to drive evil spirits away. Agility, nimble footwork, and strength allowed the dancer to avoid the sharp spike, which often projected five to six inches upwards. It was also said to have been practiced on tree stumps and fence posts. Thus the Fling is danced in one place.

The Sword Dance-

The Sword Dance is mentioned in documents going back to the reign of Malcolm III, King of Scots in the eleventh century. Known in Gaelic as "Canmore", "Great Head", he allegedly danced over his bloody claymore, (the ancient two-handed sword of Scotland), crossed with the sword of his defeated enemy (or perhaps even over the severed head of his foe).
After this the Sword dance was traditional danced by warriors on the eve of battle, if the dancer touched the sword he would be wounded the next day, but if a dancer kicked the sword, he would be killed, if many dancers touched their swords the clan would lose the battle. Following this tradition today, if a dancer touches a sword (but not displaces it in competition), the dancer loses five marks. However, if the dancer displaces the sword, s/he is disqualified. The clap at close to the end of the dance tells the piper to speed up the tempo, showing off the dancers endurance and mettle.

Seann Truibhas-

Seann Truibhas, pronounced Shawn Trewes, is Gaelic for "Old Trousers". It is largely believed that the dance developed after the 1745 Jacobite Rising, when Charles Edward Stuart (more affectionately known as Bonnie Prince Charlie) came to Scotland (from France) to win back the crown.
Initially the uprising was a staggering success; the Jacobite army rapidly broke out of the Highlands, captured Edinburgh, and advanced as far south as Derby in England. Unfortunately, the army lacked the necessary French support, and so retreated back to their stronghold in the Highlands, where it was finally defeated at Culloden Moor near Inverness in 1746.
Afterwards, the government decided to end once and for all the Jacobite military threat. Jacobites were rounded up, imprisoned or executed. Estates were snatched, the clan system dismantled, and their kilt and plaids, pipes, and weaponry outlawed.
Some therefore suggest that the dance was created when the above Act of Proscription was repealed in 1783, and Highlanders were once again allowed to wear their kilts. The first part of the dance depicts a man trying to shake off the hated trousers and the quick-time is thought to reflect the Highlander's joy at regaining the freedom of their native kilts.


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