Great Highland Bagpipe/ Piob Mhór

Robert MacKinnon Scottish

Late 19th century

Not on view

This Great Highland Bagpipe is marked R. McKinnon, Glasgow. Robert McKinnon (ca.1834/5-1907) was a bagpipe maker active between 1875 and 1902 in Glasgow. Prior to that, he had a distillery and spirit business. He was an active player and dancer, and regularly competed in both disciplines, winning first and second prizes. He is also reported to have played and danced for Queen Victoria. In 1884, McKinnon published a tutor for Highland bagpipe music (Campbell 2001:62-64).

This Great Highland Bagpipe features a conical chanter made of blackwood, three drones (bass and two tenors), and a conical insufflation pipe with a leather flapper valve. The old sewn leather bag it originally came with is missing. The Black Watch tartan bag and ribbons were added in 1971 to prepare the instrument for an exhibition, as the bag and original cover were missing. The choice of the tartan was made by textile conservator Vi Paucek. This tartan was worn by Scottish companies in the British Army and was also worn the Black Watch regiment in the British Army, formed in 1881. Previously, the Black Watch was a group of companies formed in 1725 to patrol the Highlands in the aftermath of the Jacobite rebellions.

This instrument was part of the original 270 instruments donated to the collection in 1889 by Mary Elizabeth Brown (Balosso-Bardin 2023).

(Cassandre Balosso-Bardin, 2023)

Technical Description
Conical single chanter of black wood, 7/1 holes, 2 ventholes, cane double reed on metal staple;

3 drones: bass in 3 sections, 2 tenor drones both in 2 sections; cylindrical bores; single downcut cane reeds, tuning bridle;

Conical insufflation pipe; leather flapper valve;

Bag missing (was sewn leather bag according to old records);

Modern Black Watch regimental tartan bag cover stuffed and sewn to simulate appearance of bag, with stocks sewn into cover (added in 1971);

5 cylindrical black wood stocks;

Stocks and pipes (except chanter) with grooved decoration, all mounted with ivory;

Blowpipe tipped with horn;

Black Watch ribbons joining 3 drones.

Chanter: L. 359 mm (14.13 in.)

Bass drone: L. 671 mm (26.5 in)

Tenor 1: L. 361 mm (14.25 in.)

Tenor 2: L. 361 mm (14.25 in.)


Balosso-Bardin, Cassandre, 2023. Five illustrated bagpipes in "Musical instruments and their homes": An insight into the 19th-century instrument collector’s world. Bibliolore.

Campbell, Jeannie, 2001. Highland Bagpipe Makers. Magnus Orr Pub.

Great Highland Bagpipe/ Piob Mhór, Robert MacKinnon (Scottish, active Glasgow 1875–1902), wood, ivory, horn, cloth, Scottish

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