Pipes in the Glen

20th November 2017

There are not many musical instruments that give you goosebumps quite like the bagpipes. So when Burgess Hay contacted us to tell us a bit more about his family's connection with bagpiping at Glen Tanar, we were eager to find out more.

The Mcdougalls of Sloch Arisaig and the Glen Tanar connection

By Burgess Hay, Burgess Bagpipes

Sandy Jessie Billy John

"The person Sandy McDougall in the picture, is my wife’s Great Grandfather. The lad standing on the chair is her Grandfather John McDougall Snr (he is the lad on the left in the photo with his brother Billy). John's son, also John, was my wife's father and he was a world renowned champion piper who started playing the pipes when he was about ten years old. He won all of the major piping prizes including the Gold Medals at the Northern Meeting in Inverness and the Argyllshire Gathering in Oban. John was also a kindly mentor to many pipers and after his competitive career finished he was a very sought after piping judge for  highland games.

Alexander “Sandy” McDougall was born in Sloch Ardnish, Arisaig on the 17th of March 1878. His parents were crofters and were John McDougall and Isabella Gillies. He had seven siblings.

He was still in the Ardnish area in 1901 and in the census of that year he was at Glenshean House, as a visitor, occupation ghillie, and he spoke both English and Gaelic.

By late 1905 Sandy had moved and was a gamekeeper on Glen Tanar Estate. He married Jessie Ann Morrice at Aboyne St Margaret’s RC church on the 26th of April 1906.

Jessie Ann Morrice was the daughter of William and Helen Morrice (nee Thomson). She was born on the 11th of February 1888 at Tarland. Jessie's father was a gardener at Glen Tanar and by 1901 both Jessie and Sandy were living at Old Hall East on the estate.

By 1911 Sandy was still employed by Glen Tanar and living in Braeloine Cottage. They had four children - all born in the cottage. John, Billy, Angus and Dorothy. We believe he worked on the estate until he retired in the late 1930s. They moved to Auchmill road in Aberdeen at some time prior to 1957 and then after his wife’s death in April 1957 Sandy moved in with his son John who owned the Station Hotel in Bucksburn. He stayed there until his death in 1962."

Sandy Jessie Mc D
The family outside Braeloine Cottage, the unusual pebbles in the mortar between the stone walls clearly visible. The photo was taken in the spring / summer of 1911.
Glen Tanar 1922
Sandy McDougall's sons, John, age 15 (left) and Billy, age 14 (right) in 1921. The pipes they are holding were made for them by Charlie Ewan in Aboyne in 1920.
Burgess Bagpipes

The family connection with bagpipes continues to this day with Burgess Bagpipes, a family business based in Forres, Scotland. Burgess Bagpipes create bespoke, quality instruments using the best materials and craftmanship. Visit their website to find out more.