Medieval Bagpipes

Like many keen pipers I always keep an eye out for carvings or pictures of bagpipes on my travels, but recently thought I should try to find examples closer to home, which for me is Cheshire. Over the last year or so I have visited nearly all of the surviving medie- val churches in the county to explore them for images of bagpipers. Many of these me- dieval churches are now bare of carvings or paintings, following reformation, civil war and the heavy hand of Victorian restorers, but still I found eight examples in the area.

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Medieval Bagpipes by Paul Fehrenbach Dec 2000 in Chanter 2000 Winter

This edition is from our archives, so it is presented as scanned pages rather than text. You may need to scroll to find the article you’re looking for.

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CD Review Mar 2016 in Chanter 2016 Spring

The Early Folk Band - Robin Hood - Ballads Songs and Dances Miriam Andersén, Gesine Bänfer, Susanne Ansorg, Ian Harrison, Steven Player ‘It is a tale of Robin Hood, Which I to you will tell, Which being rightly understood, I know will please you well.’ From a True Tale of Robin Hood, Martin Parker, 1632 Ian Harrison and Gesine Bänfer are very fine pipers – and who of those of us at the 2006 and 2007 Blowouts can forgot their fine piping – and as such need no further introduction, but you may not be aware that they are also very fine shawm, cornet and recorder players (try to hear them playing with their medieval and renaissance wind band, les Haulz et les Bas).

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Double Bagpipes by John Tose. Cornish Double Bagpipes based on 16th century carving in Altarnun Church, Bodmin Moor, Cornwall. In British churches there are many depictions of pipers playing bagpipes with two chanters, one for each hand. No instruments survive, but various makers have made working Double Bagpipes, including Julian Goodacre, John Tose and Jim Parr. Each double pipe sounds very different: some use closed fingering and have cylindrically-bored chanters, others open fingering and conical bores.

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2 drone “Medieval” pipes in G by Jon Swayne. Mouth blown pipes in the style of early pictoral representations. Bagpipes first appeared in Europe, in a form that we clearly recognise, around the 12th century. Early depictions show pipes with no drones but by the 14th century they were almost always depicted with the addition of a single drone. Chaucer tells us that bagpipes were a feature of medieval English life: the Miller pipes his fellow pilgrims on their way in the Canterbury Tales.

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