April 30, 2008

English media taking cheap shots at Highland pipe

Mainstream news outlets are using a an advance promotional blurb sent out by the publisher on new book by the well piping historian Hugh Cheape as an opportunity to take pot-shots at Scotland’s national instrument.

The respected Guardian, Telegraph and United Press International (UPI) so far are three major sources that have speculated widely on the content of the book, Bagpipes – a National Collection of a National Instrument, due to be released in May, without actually having read the work. The Guardian and the Telegraph are based in England.

The outlets use the opportunity to skewer the reputation of the Highland pipe, speculating that the instrument was “invented” only a few hundred years ago, ignoring historical and physical evidence to the contrary.

The Guardian writes, “Like most tartan regalia and the modern kilt, the great Highland bagpipe and many of its traditions known worldwide were manufactured by the Scots middle classes in the early 1800s in their romantic quest to rediscover their past.”

One observer said the reports are “In the usual English sneering manner: ‘Har, har, up yours, Jock’, which apparently stem from the press handout ahead of Hugh Cheape’s new book Bagpipes. I think I can probably guess what it was he actually meant, and that they have taken him up deliberately sideways; but we could have done without this."

Hugh Cheape, the grand-nephew of Brigadier-General Ronald Cheape, recently retired as curator of the piping collection of the National Museums of Scotland. He published The Book of the Bagpipe in 2000.


  1. AHAHAHAHAHA! Oh my god THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! who ever posted the Morris Dancing” link. I haven’t soiled myself that good since waiting for the mass bands and results to be finished at the worlds. Hysterical. Of course in all seriousness

  2. Last I looked, the first MacCrimmons dated well before the 19th Century. And wasn’t Culloden in the 18th Century, with kilted warriors, bagpipes being banned as a weapon of war, etc.? Invented” is definitely the wrong word. “Revived” would be more like it for what happened in the 19th Century. Like everything else in the universe

  3. Yeah – I’m English and I hate everything Scottish…………That’s why I have a gigantic collection of Pipe Band and solo albums, played in a number of bands, travelled to Scotland pretty much every year for the last thirty or so and even made the trip to the Worlds every year when living in Canada. Grow up and stop being so petty – we’re not all bigoted idiots…..unlike a lot of Scots I could mention but choose not to.

  4. The stories presented might be un-researched hashes of a press release, but they are certainly not distorted or untruthful pot-shots. MacDonald and his contempories created the bagpipe as we know it today. Society’s understanding of the bagpipe and its place in our culture is a direct product of the early 19th century. I am sure it will come as a shock to some people, but this story is nothing more than the application of historical research, in exactly the same vein as William Donaldson and co. All in all, I would say the three stories are the best mainstream media mentions of the bagpipe I have ever seen – an improvement on the usual Pipers blow up a storm” cliches we see after every World Championships. A story about the publication of a history of the bagpipe – remember the days when such a possibility would have been laughed at?”

  5. This is just another English habit. Whenever the English FEAR something , they try to belittle it. And fear the pipes they do! Disregard these poorly educated journos who know not what they write.



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