Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I think everyone associates bagpipes with Scotland, and while sometimes it is too stereotyped, it really is the truth. Bagpipes are just as much Scottish as the kilt and truly go hand in hand. They've been in Scotland for a very long time. They played on the battle field with Wallace and Bruce and they were banned with the Highland dress in 1746 after the disastrous Battle of Culloden. 

I think that the bagpipe is probably the only instrument that anyone can guess right off. There is really no other sound like it. I will admit that they are an acquired taste, but I have always found them pleasant. (That is, when they are played well. An out of tune bagpipe is not a pleasure, but you can say the same for anything.) I personally love the sound of the bagpipe. I always thought they were so different. They are absolutely beautiful playing laments and airs and can sound both haunting and joyful and also a bit threatening at times. 

Each clan has its own pibroch. A pibroch is a special tune played on the bagpipe. It goes along with the clan motto, crest, plant badge and tartan. In 1745, when all the clans gathered to the banner of Bonnie Prince Charlie at Glenfinnan, all the clans marching in were each playing their own pibroch. This was also the case when the clans went off to war. You can only imagine the sound of fifty plus clans marching onto the battlefield, and the piper of each clan skirling their pibroch out amidst drums and shouting men. It's a wonder the English ever stayed long enough to fight at all. (If you really want to re-create this effect, you can gather all your music playing devices and play a different pipe tune with each all at the same time. You'll most likely understand after a few minutes. I have also heard this effect at the Highland Games during the piping competitions because everyone is playing at the same time, and though they cannot hear each other, the listeners can hear everything. I really pity the judges.)

Now days we have pipe bands, and, while I do like hearing them, and I'll admit they play very well, it is all too military for me. This was not how they would have played on the battlefield. If you want to hear a fantastic example of what I think battlefield piping and drumming would have sounded like back in the days of Wallace and Bruce, then check out the band Albannach. I still have a very hard time believing they are actually from this century! All I know is that if I was an Englishman going to fight the Scots, then I would probably lose my nerve very quickly hearing these guys play on the battlefield!

So here's just a little bit on bagpipes, if you want to know anything else, just ask. I just didn't really want to bore you with how they worked and stuff like that.

Slainte, Hazel

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Well, after a long, busy week, an even longer and busier weekend and a bout of food poisoning, I'm back talking to you about Scotland and her history. I apologize throughly for not having anything new for several weeks (okay, practically all month) but I have been busy, gone all weekend, and I have also been writing a lot, and, well, when inspiration strikes...

Tomorrow, however, I promise you a real post again, hopefully on the history and importance of bagpipes, so please make sure you check back and do not leave because I will be writing in earnest again by next month seeing as there are several interesting things to talk about in April. So, I'll be back tomorrow with that new post!

Slainte, Hazel

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Here's a happy St. Patrick's Day to all the Irish out there! It's the day for the Wearing O' the Green so enjoy!

Here are some Irish songs to listen to today:

Boys of the Old Brigade (This one is actually an Easter Day song, but that's okay;)

So once again, Happy St. Patrick's Day! Erin go Brath!

Slainte, Hazel

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Please Read This!

David R. Ross the late Scottish historian, had for years campaigned the return of a rightful Scottish artifact to its home country. The artifact is a letter of safe conduct that was given to William Wallace by King Philip of France in 1300 when he was traveling abroad, campaigning Scotland's cause. The letter, signed by the French king, was so he would have a safe journey and a good introduction to the pope when he went to the Vatican to plead help for Scotland. The Society of William Wallace has now put David's wishes into action and have a petition up for signing to all who are concerned. You can go to The Society of William Wallace website to find more information on the letter of safe conduct and find a link to the petition. Please, if you love William Wallace, if you love Scotland, SIGN!!! Remember, we got the Stone of Destiny back in 1996. It's time for another artifact to be brought back to its rightful home. This is something that means a lot to every true Scottish heart, so do your duty and help to bring it back!

Slainte, Hazel

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Samantha M. wanted to know more about the Scottish dialect, so I decided to give a bit of information on how the Scottish language has changed through the centuries. This is only in the written aspect, though I would imagine that the accent itself has not changed very much. Only for the fact that different words have been used just like in any other language.

The first example I have, is an excerpt from Blind Harry's epic The Wallace about William Wallace. This dates from the 1400s

"Bot I hereof can nocht rehers thaim aw.
Wallace statur, of gretnes and of hycht,
Was jugyt thus be dyscreciounn if rycht,
That saw him bath discevill and in weid."

As you can see, it is kind of hard to understand. But I assure you, after you read it for a while, you do  get used to it!

The next one I have is a while later actually, from one of Robert Burns's poems dating late 1700s

To a Haggis

"Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great Chieftan o' the Puddin-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy of a grace
As land's my arm."

Burns usually writes in this dialect, normally called Old Scots. Some of his poems are not quite as thick, but I think the ones that are add more flavor.

This next one is an excerpt from Sir Walter Scott's Rob Roy 1817

"Aha, lad!" said the Bailie, laughing, and putting his finger to his nose. "ye think ye hae me there. Troth, I wad advise ony friends o' mine to gree wi' Rob'; form watch as they like, and do what they like, they are sair apt to be harried when the lang nights come on."

This was the typical writing of Old Scots you would see during this time period. Robert Louis Stevenson, in his book Kidnapped also uses a similar dialect. Now to show you what it's  like to just write in a Scottish accent, that is how I will end this post.

Scotland has a very distinctive accent, an' tha' the truth o' it. Everyone kens a Scottish accent when they hear it. Ye canna miss it! Sae, Ah, hope ye all enjoyed this wee post an' Ah'll talk tae ye again soon!

Slainte, Hazel

Monday, March 1, 2010

Up for Suggestions

I apologize fully for only posting one thing last week. I have been busy and have also been writing and researching for a novel at the moment, so I have not had time to write anything for Bonnets and Broadswords. I have to find something to talk about this month because nothing I have found really happened in March, so if anyone has any suggestions of what they might like to hear about, please tell me! I am up for suggestions. I mean it too! If you have an idea, please share! Either post it on the page, or email me at

So I'll probably be doing several random posts this month whenever I get the time. Next month I am going to deem Jacobite Month because the famous Battle of Culloden happened on the 16th of April. So if you are studying about the Jacobites or just particularly like that time period, please be sure to come back next month to check it out.

As it is, today, I will post this link to a video of David R. Ross giving a tour of Glasgow Cathedral that way you can still have your history lesson today! 

I will try to be back sometime this week with a real post, but until then, keep thinking of things you may want me to talk about.

Slainte, Hazel