Bagpipe making (Highland pipes)
The making of bagpipes; a woodwind instrument sounded by air forced with the arm from a bag. The bag is inflated by mouth using a blowpipe. A modern set of bagpipes has a bag, a chanter, a blowpipe, two tenor drones, and one bass drone. See also bagpipe making (Northumbrian pipes, smallpipes and bellows blown pipes).
This craft uses products derived from animals and exotic hardwoods – please read our ethical sourcing statement.
|Historic area of significance||There are many different traditions of bagpipes in Europe and the Middle East.
The Bagpipe Society has a listing of countries where bagpipes are found
|Area currently practised||UK|
|Origin in the UK||Unclear, but the first bagpipes in Scotland are recorded in 1400. The first written record in England is 1285.|
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The origin of bagpipe making in the UK is unclear. What is certain, however, is that bagpipes have existed in various forms in Europe and the Middle East. They were known to be widely spread across Europe from the 13th Century and are first recorded in Scotland in 1400. The earliest written reference in England is 1285.
The name bagpipe has now become synonymous with the Great Highland Bagpipe, which has somewhat overshadowed other bagpipes. Great Highland Pipes are now made all over the world and the manufacturing methods are increasingly mechanised. However, there are still some remaining craft makers with the hand skills to make Great Highland Pipes.
Cultural significance: Since the 19th Century Great Highland Pipes have become synonymous with Scotland, the British Military and pipe bands all over the world. One notable role is that of Piper to the Sovereign, a piper tasked to perform for the British Sovereign.
- Leather work
- Cover making
- Reed making
Issues affecting the viability of the craft
- There are a lot of different skills necessary for making bagpipes including wood work, leather work and reed making. It is challenging to become skilled in all these processes.
- The Bagpipe Society
- National Piping Centre
- The Lowland and Border Pipers’ Society
- Northumbrian Small Pipes Society
- The Fellowship of Makers and Researchers of Historic Instruments
Craftspeople currently known
A list of bagpipe makers and suppliers can be found on the Bagpipe Society’s website.
- Alan Waldron, Stirling Bagpipes (UK)
- R G Hardie & Co (UK)
- Duncan Soutar of St Andrews (UK)
- Kilberry Bagpipes (UK)
- Kintail (UK)
- McCallum Bagpipes Ltd
- Wallace Bagpipes
- MacMurchie Bagpipes
The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and The National Piping Centre offer a specialist degree that allows pipers to study piping within the context of Scottish traditional music to the highest level.