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History, Tradition, Heritage As related to the subjects of piping, drumming and pipe bands.

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Old 10-17-2008, 09:04 AM   #1
sonofsomerled
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Default Highland vs. Lowland "clans"

This is simply a history question, but at what point (and why) did the lowland clans start to draw clear distinctions from the more stereotypically "clannish" highland clans and view highlanders as uneducated, wildmen from the hills, etc.? At what point did highlanders "look down" on lowlanders as being less noble, city-dwelling (fill in your own adjective) etc.? It seems a mutual animosity/dislike/separation occurred between the two groups that had developed by (at least) the 17th Century. Was it based on a) religion; b) language; c) trade; d) government organization e) fealty to the Scottish kings; f) education or all of the above? Was there and earlier time when they really saw themselves as a homogenous, unified group? The histories of Scotland I have read seem to gloss over this point. And to relate this question vaguely to piping, did this distinction manifest in some way in GHB use by highlanders and lowlanders?
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Old 10-17-2008, 09:45 AM   #2
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Default Re: Highland vs. Lowland "clans"

It goes back to the early medieval period. The collapse of the Pictish kingdom under the double onslaught of the Danes and the Scots (read: Gaels claiming an Irish ancestry) led to a gaelic kingdom established in the east, centered on Perthshire. As late as the reign of MacBeth (c.1030 AD) the Gaels were the ruling class, although the Norse had settled and claimed the Northern part and the Isles.

Malcolm Canmore, his eventual successor, a Gael, was first married to a Norse lady, Ingibjorg, then to an Anglo-saxon princess, Margaret. These were turbulent times, with the English kingdom hijacked by William the Conquerer and his frenchified northmen (Normans); it wasn't long before he moved against Malcolm and required large grants of land to his supporters, who typically built castles to protect themselves and as military bases. This was the turning point for the fortunes of Gaeldom, for these militaristic noblemen despised the aborigines and proceeded to colonize the country with their Norman and Anglo-Saxon friends, setting up an alternative economy based on towns and trading centers from which the natives where specifically excluded. This was the origin of the Lowland/Highland divide.

Most highlandmen lived on estates controlled by Normans, and the clan system evolved around the descendents of DeMayners (Menzies) and Freskin de Moravia (Murrays), to take two examples; although native families which intermarried with Normans kept up with the best of them (eg, Campbells).

The Gaelic kingdom of MacBeth and Malcolm was infiltrated by Normans and the crown was soon in their hands, with French the language of the ruling class for several generations.

Those who supported Bruce - a fifth generation Norman with a large estate near the border - fared well, but he brutally suppressed those who opposed his claim to the crown, devastating Moray and the western lands of the McDougalls.

Much of the animosity which grew up was fuelled by noblemen such as the claimant to the Earldom of Ross using Higland troops to enforce his 'just claim' by burning towns like Inverness.

The word 'clan' is gaelic and would not have been used in the English speaking area, which expanded to take all the best lands, leaving the Gaels with the rough, infertile uplands.
It came into vogue there as a result of Walter Scott's romantic tales which fixated George IV on gaels as true scots, and so everyone adopted a psuedo-gaelic posture, to please his fancy.
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Old 10-17-2008, 09:48 AM   #3
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Default Re: Highland vs. Lowland "clans"

You can see the divide well before the 17th century, as more and more people of anglosaxon and norman background moved into lowland scotland and gained power. Rober de Bruce for example (who's norman ancestors married into the traditional gaelic line). They spoke english (or what evolved into lowland scots) as opposed to the north western occupants of scotland who spoke gaelic (a celtic language).

So there evolved a language and cultural divide. To this day native gaelic speakers in the northwest refer to outsiders as sassanachs.
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Old 10-17-2008, 09:57 AM   #4
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Default Re: Highland vs. Lowland "clans"

Whoops- I wrote my post before Maitland's appeared. I feel kind of silly after his much more substantive response. As always, your response is informative and enjoyed.
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Old 10-17-2008, 05:13 PM   #5
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Default Re: Highland vs. Lowland "clans"

There's a book by Magnus MacMagnuson "Scotland, The Buidling of a Nation", I believe it is titled. It gives a pretty good history of ancient Scotland. If I recall correctly, there was a time in the area's early history that scotland was divdided into 4 different Kingdoms, or thereabouts. Kingdom may not be the correct term, but at least a similar concept.

At any rate, wouldn't all the suffering the border Scots suffered from centuries of batteling between Scotland and England also be a large factor in some animosity growing between those who appear to insulated from all of the carnage and often were the instegators of war with England?
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Old 10-17-2008, 09:09 PM   #6
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Default Re: Highland vs. Lowland "clans"

I believe the 4 kingdoms were the britons in the Southwest (Strathclyde), the ango-saxons in the southeast (northumbria), and Picts in the northeast, and the Scots in the northwest. But that would have all been before a lowland/highland distinction. Thosee 4 kigdoms were eventually consolidated into the gaelic kingdom of Macbeth and Malcom that Maitland describes. That kingdom was infiltrated by anglo-saxons and normans, again as maitland describes. The occupied the fertile areas and larger cities of the lowland, and their language evolved into a scots dialect of english. The NW highlands were more isolated and less effected by this, so they maintained their gaelic language and customs.

My understanding, as Maitland describes, is that the idea of lowland clans is a victorian invention, when all things highland began to be embrassed by all of Scotland.
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Old 10-17-2008, 11:57 PM   #7
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Default Re: Highland vs. Lowland "clans"

Much of the consolidation between these early, 'proto-scottish' kingdoms was by marriage rather than warfare. As always, royal families intermarried; it was in this manner that the kingdom of the Britons in Strathclyde merged with the kingdom of Alba (which is the name they used for themselves, as do their modern descendants to this day. 'Albannach' is translated into 'Scot' in English)
The kingdom of Alba (Scotland) was founded by one Kenneth MacAlpine and his brother Donald; Kenneth is suspected of having murdered the Pictish nobility by some devious trick involving a pit and knives at Scone, and then assuming the title 'King of Picts and Scots'. At least one historian thinks the name 'MacAlpine' may be a gaelic rendition of the Anglo-Saxon 'Aelfwine'. Within this dynasty, backstabbing was the norm, and the plots of "Hamlet" and "MacBeth" give a fair idea of what life was like at the top back then. "MacBeth" also introduces the aforesaid Malcolm Canmore to us, and the fact that he owed his ascendency to Anglo-Saxon assistance; as did his sons to Norman help. This dependence on outside military aid goes a long way to explaining the later wars of Independence, as the English throne (Norman, by this time) had a long record of being the feudal superior of the king of Scotland.
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Old 10-18-2008, 03:57 PM   #8
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Default Re: Highland vs. Lowland "clans"

Quote:
Originally Posted by gatormac
My understanding, as Maitland describes, is that the idea of lowland clans is a victorian invention, when all things highland began to be embrassed by all of Scotland.
Not completely... For the lowland clans, and any ruling class that may have derived from them, to have any legitimancy with the highlanders, they had to have some form of a clan system in place. Although - I think these lowland clans were more based on feudalism than tribalism.
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Old 10-20-2008, 12:14 PM   #9
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Default Re: Highland vs. Lowland "clans"

I read Magnusson's book, but like I said in the first post - it seems to gloss over the social trends and go from battle to battle. And does anyone have a take on how/if this lowland/highland social divide had an inpact on GHB use in the lowlands? weren't most of the pipe manufacturers based in the lowlands?
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Old 10-20-2008, 12:43 PM   #10
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Default Re: Highland vs. Lowland "clans"

Quote:
Originally Posted by sonofsomerled
And does anyone have a take on how/if this lowland/highland social divide had an inpact on GHB use in the lowlands? weren't most of the pipe manufacturers based in the lowlands?
Hugh Cheape's book 'Bagpipes' touches on this corner of history.One point he makes is that the Grievously Harmed Body (GHB) which we play was largely the invention of Donald MacDonald in the New Athens of the North, Edinburgh. Before that, the bagpipe was a protean beast existing in many forms, some examples of which illustrate his volume. We see that town pipers were recorded up until the late 18th century, but they played bellows pipes.

My take on this is that one should be wary of projecting the present onto an imagined past.

A good site for detailed browsing is that of Ross Anderson who makes a study of this area. http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~rja14/music/index.html
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