The LBPS carries in its name the notion of ‘Lowland piping’ as distinct from the more familiar ‘Highland ‘ form. ‘Lowland pipes’ are first named as such in the 2nd edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica in 1776; so when were ‘Highland pipes’ first so named? Keith Sanger provides an answer

For the past two hundred years piping in Scotland has been dominated by the image of the Great Highland bagpipe. From the beginning of the revival in interest in bellows-blown pipes it has been necessary to define the Lowland bagpipe as something distinct, something definitely not the Highland pipe. The question I was invited to address was 'do we know when the term 'Highland pipe' was first applied specifically to the instrument rather than the player? Sufficient written evidence survives for an answer to be proposed; evaluating it, however, requires a brief survey of the current knowledge of the history of piping in Scotland. It is also important to note that the description 'highland pipe', (or piper for that matter), is Lowland Scots or English and was never used within the Gaelic speaking community to which it was being applied.
Like most really early sources, written records of piping have limitations, they do not tell us exactly what the instrument referred to was like, although they do provide the firmest dateable evidence by which certain aspects of an instrument had been developed and used within a particular geographical locale. The earliest written record of a bagpipe within the British Isles so far, is what looks like a colloquial use of the term bagepipa' which appears in the otherwise Latin come Norman French treasurers accounts for Edward 1 of England, written in 1285/86. If by the thirteenth century the bagpipe was known at the English Court then given the interconnections by marriage and land holdings between the leading families of Scotland and England at that time, then the 'bagepipe' was also likely to have been known in Scotland. Either by familiarity with the English Court, or in this period of normality prior to the problems that led to the Wars of Independence, directly through Scotland's many trade connections with continental Europe. 1
The earliest written reference to a 'bagpipe' that has been found to date in Scotland also appears in a colloquial form which suggests that the scribe who wrote the court record of an assize held at Selkirk in November 1510 was completely familiar with the word. The instrument which along with a horse and household goods  had been stolen from a George Weyr, and was listed among a number of crimes committed by a Robert Haw in Heavyside who was sentence to being Warded by the Sheriff for forty days and if he was unable to find sureties he was then to be hanged.2 By the end of that century the written evidence starts to refer to a 'great pipe' which implies there was another type sufficiently small enough to notice a difference and this is confirmed by a record in 1600  of a piper who played both a 'small pipe and a great pipe'.3
Turning to the first appearance of 'pipers' in Scotland there is an element of uncertainty regarding whether the early use of the term always meant a bagpipe was involved, but taken within context there is hardly any difference in time between the first references to pipers in Gaelic Scotland and the rest of the country. The Book of the Dean of Lismore, a compilation of Gaelic verse and other material made between circa 1512 and 1529 contains a name list of what are thought to be entertainers including musicians, some of whom are clearly described as such. It includes one 'piobaire Mac Ille Dhuibh', the earliest named 'Highland Piper' and fittingly occurring in a Gaelic source.4 Since some of the other unspecified names in the list can be identified from other sources with known harpers the possibility of there being more pipers cannot be ruled out. 'Piper Black' as the name translates was just the first in the widespread appearance of pipers in Gaelic Scotland during the 16th century, and in most cases as they occur as witnesses to legal documents written in either Latin or Scots their presence implies some measure of status within their communities.
In all of these appearances their description mirrors that of their lowland counterparts in that they are simply described as 'piper'. Not surprisingly the occasions on which the term 'highland piper' appears occurs only when the piper is within a lowland setting, the earliest example perhaps being one 'Edmond Broun ane Hieland pyper' who got into a bit of trouble over his dog in Stirling in 1574.5 This reference is interesting for several reasons, as apart from the piper being familiar enough in Stirling to have acquired an Anglicised form of his name, it is also an early example of the use of 'Highland' rather than 'Irish' to describe the Gaelic Speaking Scots from a lowland perspective. The fact that the piper had a dog with him also leads to speculation that he might have been an early example of a Drover, (a 19th century account of droving suggests that a piper could certainly help move a herd along 6).
In those cases where reference is made to the instrument rather than just the piper, which was usually when the musician had for what ever reason become the object of official attention, then in nearly all cases no matter what cultural background the piper came from the descriptions used were either 'Great Pype' or 'Large Pype', with the few exceptions just using the more generic term of 'bagpype'.
To return to how the instrument was described within its own Gaelic speaking community, for contemporary usage we are mainly dependent on the corpus of surviving Gaelic verse, but the picture it
presents continues to mirror that used in contemporary Scots documentary sources except that it is the Gaelic equivalents of 'piob' and 'piobair' that appear instead of 'pype' and 'pyper'. The use of the qualifying adjective 'Mor', (large or great), is comparatively rare, at least until we reach the series  of poems praising the 'Great Pipe' composed by Duncan Ban MacIntyre between 1781 to 1789, for the Highland Society Piping Competitions, by which time the poet was already conscious of the expectations of his audience.
It also needs to be remembered that much of the surviving written material produced in the Gaelic speaking areas relates to administration and legal matters and was therefore mostly conducted in Scots, albeit that the writers and readers were native speakers of Gaelic. If that background had any influence on their use of Scots, and occasionally there are hints that it did, then it adds nothing that materially changes the picture described so far with possibly one exception. The term 'Bagpype' is occasionally found in Scots usage, although even-handedly applied over the whole country both highland and lowland, but a direct Gaelic equivalent does not appear to have been used, although in context references to the bag do frequently occur, especially in the poems addressed specifically to pipes or pipers.
In terms of references among Gaelic speaking sources, albeit usually conducting their written business in Scots, the earliest to refer to bagpipes is a note from the Earl of Breadalbane to his chamberlain in 1679 to give £20 Scots to the piper to go to Edinburgh to buy his pipes, which is less than informative regarding the nature of the instrument.7 More relevant by far is a letter dated 1712 from the MacDonald chamberlain in Skye to MacLeod of Dunvegan concerning the purchase by MacLeod of two sets of pipes following the death of their previous owner. The letter expressed some disappointment that the price of 30 merks for both sets was less than their owner had 'expected for the great pype' alone when he was in life'.8
This letter tends to confirm that at that point the defining feature in describing a set of pipes was the size of the instrument, whether it was called a Piob Mhor in Gaelic or a 'Large or Great Pipe' in Scots. So what changed? Well the earliest firm reference to the term Highland Pipe being specifically directed at an instrument is to be found among the MacDonald papers with a receipt dated 19 September 1748, from the Edinburgh Turner, Adam Barclay, for payment for making a set of 'Hyland Pipes of cocawood mounted with ivory' at a cost of £3-3.9 The timing of this purchase is a little odd given the historical background but the date does give the first hint of a military connection in regard to the description.
The MacDonald estate had gone from one piper in Trotternish in 1717 to having three, one in each division of Trotternish, North Uist and Sleat by 1746,10 but the death from a chill of Sir Alexander MacDonald in 1746 left a young heir who elected to go to school at Eton thereby setting a pattern for the future generations of lairds and the start of the slide away from a more permanent residence on the estate.
Ewen MacIntyre the Sleat piper, seems to have been the first of the pipers sitting rent free to be retrenched and he subsequently turns up in the Black Watch and it is tempting to suggest that the pipes were in fact purchased for him as a sort of payoff and goodbye. Neil the youngest of the MacArthur family also headed into the army and in 1747 he enlisted in Loudoun's Highlanders. When the regiment was stood down in 1749 he presumably returned to Skye, until he next appears in Montgomery's Highlanders where he served in the Americas from 1757 to his death in 1762.
MacArthur's death led to a belated series of events when in 1767 Lady MacDonald on behalf of Neil's heir arranged the recovery from the officer holding it of the money that was in Neil's possession at the time of his death.11 The formal testament was recorded in Edinburgh on the 18th July and Neil's son John inherited the sum of £30-7-6, Sterling, (£364-10 Scots).12 Five days later on the 23 July '44lbs of Cocko Wood' had been purchased and by the 3 August Hugh Robertson, the  Edinburgh Turner had received his payment for making a set of 'Highland Pipes mounted with ivory'. According to the MacLeod archives at Dunvegan a 'pair of Highland pipes' had also been supplied to them by Robertson in 1765,13 so it would seem that by this time, from the perspective of two Edinburgh turners there was an instrument they were calling a Highland Pipe. It does not necessarily follow that this was the appearance of a new instrument rather than a new description for an existing one and as the Gaelic sources make no suggestion at that time of any changes to the instrument from their perspective then there are grounds for suggesting the latter.
To explain what seems to have been happening requires a restatement of the few hard facts we have regarding the evolution of the bagpipe in Scotland. At the start of the 17th century there were references to a large and a small pipe being used and it is likely that both at that period were mouth blown. What was referred to as the Large or Great pipe was basically  the same instrument that appears with an equivalent Gaelic name form in contemporary Gaelic sources, albeit that what was played on it would have reflected a Gaelic cultural background. Over the course of the 17th century bellows pipes begin to appear and were sufficiently prominent by 1670 to be noticed as a 'Scotch bagpipe' by an English playwright.14 Bellows blown pipes along with the common stock then became the dominant form in lowland Scotland which on the evidence of the picture of the Haddington Burgh Piper included the larger instruments played by the burgh pipers as well.
It was the military use of pipers which leads directly to the appearance of the 'Highland pipe' but although more information regarding the early regimental pipers now exists, the nature of the pipes they played is still an open question, except to say that like the burgh pipers it is more likely to have been the larger louder instrument which was used. The 17th century regiments were simply known by the name of the Commanding Officer and there was no specific geographical recruiting bias, although the various surviving regimental returns naturally show names that proportionally often reflect the officers own home backgrounds, there is no evidence to suggest that they were thought of as anything other than just a Scottish regiment neither specifically highland or lowland and the pipers, when they were present, were simply just 'pipers'. For example the Earl of Lothian writing to his father concerning his regiment in 1641 described how,' we are well provided of pypers, I have one for every companie in my regiment and I think they are as good as drumms'.15
The change of approach came in 1729 when the now post 1707 'British' Government authorised the raising of a number of Independent Highland Companies to police the highlands. Then subsequently in 1739 these formed the core of the first full Highland Regiment of the line to be placed on the establishment of the British Army, when the 43rd (later to be renumbered the 42nd) Foot was raised.16 The idea of independent highland companies was not new, under the pre 1707 Scottish military structure there were a number of 'independent companies', (including Dragoons), a necessary requirement when a peacetime army had to be spread widely around the country in more of a policing function. By 1702 one of these headed by Captain Campbell of Fonad was actually being referred to in the records as 'Fonad's Highland company and by 1704 the number of these companies so designated had reached three.17 But there was a subtle although significant difference in the use of the term 'highland' when applied to them, a point illustrated by the order for forming the third one by reducing ten men, a sergeant and one piper from the other two companies and adding to them among others, one soldier from each company of the two dragoon regiments, (presumably without their horses).18 The description highland in other words had more to do with where they were to be deployed rather than background and in terms of dress and structure they were no different to the rest of the Scottish regiments.
This was a complete contrast to the later independent companies who wore highland dress which was retained in 1739 when they were augmented with a further four companies and formed into the 43rd Regiment, the first full battalion strength 'Highland Regiment'. A second Highland Regiment commanded by the Earl of Loudoun was in process of being formed when it was overtaken by the events of 1745. Following the rebellion tartan and the kilt were both banned other than as uniforms for soldiers in these new Highland regiments, ironically creating and re-enforcing a distinctiveness which the banning laws were designed to remove when applied to the civilian population. In a further quirk, the commanding officers of these new regiments, the Earl of  Loudoun and for the 43rd, Lord Crawford followed by Lord Semple were themselves lowlanders although they seem to have enthusiastically adopted the regimental 'highland' dress and persona.
Therefore, to a Scots speaking Edinburgh turner like Adam Barclay, who simply on a numerical population basis would be satisfying a greater demand for bellows pipes, by 1748 the mouth blown 'Great Pipe' would have become an instrument associated more with Gaelic speaking parts of Scotland. A culture now seen through lowland eyes as represented in the visually eye catching Highland Regiments and by association their 'Highland Pipes'. Over the course of the 18th century with the increasing demand for military pipers, (especially during the period from 1793 to 1815, the longest continuous war the UK had fought), along with the refining effects on the instrument created through the Highland Society prize pipes,19 not only was the description of 'highland' embodied with the instrument, but its production was to become the main throughput of subsequent bagpipe makers.
If the confusion created by the term 'Highland Pipe' is stripped away and the instrument is viewed from the perspective of its native Gaelic background, then the Piob Mhor can be seen simply as the surviving descendent of the mouth blown 'Large' or 'Great Pipe' that was once common throughout Scotland. It also allows attention to re focus on the important questions. Firstly, when and why did that mouth blown version acquire three drones, (see note), and then it would appear in some cases lose one again;20 and secondly when did the Large Pipe used by the Burgh and other Lowland pipers change from being mouth blown to using a bellows with a common stock. The answer to that question also has implications for more conventional piping history. Even if the change was gradual, it increases the probability that some if not all the instruments played by the Lowland pipers in the Jacobite army between 1745 to 1746, whose numbers reflected the true ethnic composition of that army,21 would have had bellows and a common stock.
This would of course include James Reid the piper whose trial and execution gave rise to the myth that bagpipes were subsequently banned. However, given the continuing persistence of that belief, I wonder if the 'Highland' piping diaspora are ready yet for the possibility that his instrument was actually a bellows blown burgh pipe ?

The earliest firm evidence for a bagpipe with one bass and two tenor drones comes from the picture of the Grant piper William Cumming painted in 1714.22 Although it has usually been seen as an example of 'the typical clan piper', in reality the military aspect is not far away. The piper first comes into view listed as a drummer in the muster rolls of Captain William Grants company in 1702.23 The Captain was later to become Grant of Ballindalloch, a cadet of the Grants of Rothiemurchus and it was with Patrick Grant of Rothiemurchus and a number of his retainers that William Cumming, now described as piper to the Laird of Grant, next appears in a Bond of Caution by Alexander Grant of Grant, dated 22 May 1708, for their appearance at the Tolbooth of Edinburgh to answer for charges raised against them.24 Who counted as the 'Laird of Grant' at that time is a moot point as Ludovick Grant of Grant had already formerly passed the headship of the family to his son Colonel Alexander Grant, a career soldier whose regiment, raised later that year, then spent almost three years abroad in the Low Countries of Holland. Colonel, later Brigadier Grant combined his military duties and running the estate with the help of his sister who had married the by now Lt Col William Grant of Ballindalloch. The Brigadier was back in 1710 and again after 1713 when his regiment was stood down and was in residence at Castle Grant during 1714,  the period when the portrait was commissioned. It therefore seems likely that the piper would also have been serving in the regiment with the effective head of the Grant family and it is tempting from the appearance of the pipes in the portrait to speculate on a continental influence in their design.25


1    Sanger, K, The Origins of Highland Piping, Piping Times, 41. No 11, (August 1989).
2    Pitcairn, Robert, Criminal Trials in Scotland from 1488 to 1634, (1833). vol 1, p 70 - 71
3    Sanger, K, Border Lines, Common Stock, 10. No 2, (December 1995).
4    National Library of Scotland MS 14870 f 19, my thanks to Ronald Black for a transcript.
5    Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, vol ii, p 418 - 419.
6    Scott, Daniel, Bygone Cumberland and Westmoreland, (1899), p 222;-
'Occasionally herds of Highland cattle passed this way and when the far-travelled animals showed signs of fatigue, it was no uncommon thing to see one of the men who carried a bagpipe play some lively air as he marched in front of the drove. The animals seemed to enjoy the music and evidently appreciated this relief to the tediousness of the journey, by walking, as they often would with a brisker step, while some of them that had lain down in the road would quickly rise at the novel far-sounding strains, which brought many a cottager also to his feet from his home in the echoing glen'.
   For a 17th Century reference to bagpipes being used in England to lead a herd of 'stags' see Cannon, R D, The Bagpipe in Northern England, Folk Music Journal, vol 2, (1971), page 128 and note 5 page 144.
7    National Archives of Scotland, GD112/15/504; This was probably the instrument known as the 'MacIntyre pipes', the surviving parts of which are currently on deposit at the West Highland Museum in Fort William.
8    Piping Times, 36, No 4, (January 1984), 22-24; The letter which originally came from the MacLeod Papers at Dunvegan is now in the College of Piping Museum in Glasgow.
9    Sanger, K, Who Paid the Pipemaker, Piping Times, 40, No 8, (May 1988); A line of verse written in 1589 as part of a praise to the Lord for deliverance from the Spanish Armada, by the poet and Minister Alexander Hume, has sometimes been interpreted as referring to a specific highland instrument, but  all Hume’s musical references lack clarity, especially what may or may not be a reference to the clarsach: see, Lawson Alexander, The Poems of Alexander Hume, (1902), p 54, line 58 and notes.
10        Angus MacArthur, who had part of Hungladder, was the only piper listed on the estate in 1717, but by 1746 Angus and his son Charles held the whole of Hungladder while Ian MacArthur was in North Uist and Ewen MacIntyre was based in Sleat, all of them sitting rent free. Neil MacArthur appears occasionally in the accounts receiving the odd payment but was presumably a sub tenant of his father or brother Charles at Hungladder, an indication perhaps that the number of 'official pipers' had reached saturation point.
11        National Library of Scotland, MS 1309, f 168 and f 173
12        National Archives of Scotland, (NAS), CC8/8/120/873
13        Quoted in Grant, I. F, The MacLeods, the History of a Clan, (1959), p 491, but with Robertson's initial probably being misread as 'R'.
14        Dayell, J G, Musical Memoirs of Scotland, (1849), p114, note number 2, quoting from Shadwell- The Humorist, Act i, Scene i. AD 1670/71.
15  Laing, David, ed. Correspondence of Sir Robert Kerr, first Earl of Ancram and his son William, third Earl of Lothian, (1875), vol 1, p 108.
16        Groves, P, History of the 42nd Royal Highlanders - 'The Black Watch', (1893). Although in 1725  some highlanders had been armed and admitted to the service of the crown, under General Wade, they were not formally 'embodied' as part of the regular domestic military force of Scotland for duty in the mountain districts until 1729.
17  See NAS series E100
18  Grant, J, ed. Seafield correspondence from 1685 to 1708, (1912), p369-370. The inclusion of the Dragoons who were predominantly Lowland Scots indicates that being a 'highlander' was not an essential qualification for a 'highland company' at that time.
19  The series of poems composed by Duncan Ban MacIntyre for the initial piping competitions contains the earliest intimation from a native Gaelic source of an instrument in the process of change or 'improvement'. See MacLeod, Angus, Orain Dhonnchaidh  Bhain/ The Songs of Duncan Ban MacIntyre, (1952), 270-299.
20  Among the additions to Joseph MacDonalds MS, as printed in 1803, is the statement that some pipers had layed aside the use of the great Drone. Two- drone pipes were still around until discouraged by the Highland Society Competitions circa 1822.
21  The real 'highland' component of Prince Charles Edward Stuart’s forces were at best no more than 50% of the total. For an overview of the relative numbers deployed on both sides see;- Pittock, Murray, The Myth of the Jacobite Clans, (revised and expanded edition, 2009), and Reid, S, The Jacobite Army at Culloden, in Pollard, T. ed, Culloden, The  History and Archaeology of the Last Clan battle. (2007).
22  Cheape, Hugh, The Piper to the Laird of Grant, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, 125, (1995), 1163-1173;  Cannon, R D, The Highland Bagpipe and its Music, (1988), plate 4. shows a picture of soldiers on the Mole at Tangier in 1683 which appears to show four pipers in highland dress with three drone pipes, but the authenticity of that section has been questioned. The pre- 1707 Scottish Parliament had certainly legislated for the provision of pipers in their regiments, but the pipers, like the regiments, contained both highland and lowland members in one standard uniform (Common Stock 24, No 1, June, 2009). In the case of the regiment contributed as part of the UK military force in Tangier, the responsibility for funding that regiment was passed to the English Treasury and its expenditure on the 'Scotch Regiment of Foot' only shows a  payment for one piper in the Colonel's Company, (Shaw, W A, Calendar of Treasury Books,    Volume 7: 1681-1685, (1916). Furthermore, the four pipers in the picture uniformly have their pipes on the left shoulder, whereas Grant's piper along with those in another ten pictures of Scottish pipers painted during the 18th century uniformly have their pipes on the right side. It is only in the early part of the 19th century that pictures start to show both right and left sided pipers, before the left side became the predominant position.
23  NAS, E100/38/4/4
24  NAS, GD86/840. It was an interesting charge of 'alledged convocation and violation of burial places'.
25  NAS, GD248/106/6, An account for the company expenses of  'Colonel Alexander Grant and Captain of a Company' running  from December 1708 to December 1709, shows that he had three personal servants and the company had two 'drummers'. According to the account which was all rendered in Guilders, a payment was made 'To 1 new Drum at Antwerp at a cost of Guilders 9 - 15'.