One aspect of Scottish life known the world over must be the playing of
bagpipes. Now, bagpipes are not unique to Scotland, eg they were played
by the early Persians, indeed, the first mention of bagpipes in Scotland
is reputed to come from the reign of James IV ( 1473 - 1513 ) and the
pipers were neither Highlanders nor Lowlanders - but Englishmen! But we
can extol the uniqueness of the Great Highland War Pipes, as the tradition
arose in Scotland of the use of bagpipes to act not only as a Gathering
Call to the Clans, but as an encouragement to Highlanders in battle.
Little wonder that the Great Highland War pipe was banned as an
'instrument of war' following the 1745 Jacobite Rising.
The classical music of the Highland Bagpipe is called Piobaireachd (
pibroch ) and the piping and compositional skills involved were
traditionally passed down in families. Chief amongst the piping families
were the Mckays of Raasay and Gairloch, the MacDonalds, the MacArthurs,
the MacDougalls, the MacIntyres and, perhaps, the the most famous family
of them all - the MacCrimmons of Skye.
The MacCrimmons, hereditary pipers to MacLeod of Dunvegan, were leading
pipers and piping teachers throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. It is
known that Donald Mor MacCrimmon, born about 1570, was hereditary piper to
MacLeod, and on his death in 1640 he was succeeded by his son Padruig Mor,
and then by his grandson Padruig Og who died after 1730. Padruig Og seems
to have been responsible for the founding of the famous MacCrimmon piping
school at Boreraig, which finally closed around 1770. For the story of
Duncan Ban MacCrimmon's and the Battle of Inverurie in 1745 see item under
Mincemeat Crumble Squares.
Scottish stye Pipe bands are now to be found all over the world and the
standard of playing for both bands and solo pipers is now recognised as
being higher than ever. Long may that continue.
Now pipers are well known to be fond of a Dram so this weeks recipe -
Oatmeal Posset - combines three famous food-stuffs from Scotland -
oatmeal, heather honey and Whisky!
Ingredients : 1 pt/ 600 ml milk; 1/2 oz/ 15 g medium oatmeal; 1/4 tsp
salt; 2 tsp/ 10 ml clear Scottish heather honey; 1 tbsp/ 15 ml Whisky;
grated nutmeg, to taste. Serves 2
Put the milk in a saucepan and add the oatmeal and salt. Bring to the
boil, stirring, then remove from the heat and leave to stand for 10
minutes. Strain the liquid through a sieve into a clean saucepan, pressing
the oatmeal firmly to extract as much liquid as possible. Stir in the
honey, Whisky and nutmeg to taste. Reheat until almost boiling, stirring
all the time. Pour into mugs and serve.