Sunday, April 20, 2008

Up Yer Kilt Hugh Cheape from Mel Gibson and Me

Apparently all those Braveheart images of uncouth semi naked highlanders dashing into battle with their bagpipes and kilts is just romantic imagination. Well blaw me doon.

But contrary to popular belief, the great Highland bagpipe never led the Scottish clans into battle against the English, nor did kilted pipers carry them around the castles of Highland chieftains, playing laments to the fallen.

In fact, says a new history by a leading authority on the much-loved — and loathed — instrument, the Highland bagpipe was invented less than 200 years ago, primarily for urban audiences. And what's more, it was largely created using money from wealthy Scottish emigres living in London.

In a new book, Hugh Cheape, a leading Gaelic historian and expert piper, argues that the origins of the instrument have been confused by decades of mythology and deliberate invention; even, he hints, by deception.

Like most tartan regalia and the modern kilt, the great Highland bagpipe and many of its traditions were manufactured by the Scottish middle classes in the early 1800s in their romantic quest to rediscover their forgotten past.

Leave us alone with our Mel Gibson inspired delusional views of Scottish History Mr Cheape (great name for a Scotsman). Next you will be claiming that they were invented and imported from Pakistan.


Nunyaa said...

Just curious Colin, can you play the bagpipes? I think they are great and loved it when ac/dc had them in It's a long way to the top :-)

Colin Campbell said...

No, but I know how to operate a CD player and and ipod, so I am set for acoustic piping. Bagpipes are incredibly difficult to master and are best left to the masochistic or the ultra patriotic to huff and puff.

I like the sound of them, but have no interest in playing them.

Robyn Rinehart Art said...

Nothing quite like a man in a kilt. It's the only time he looks good in long socks.

Even playing bagpipes is OK.

Mel Gibson? It was a terrific movie until they disemboweled him at the end. He changed for ever and went sicko........... and has never looked back since.

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