The Atholl Highlanders

Dec 19, 2021
The Atholl Highlanders

While there’s some debate about exactly who wrote The Atholl Highlanders tune, most people believe it was originally written by William Ross (1823-1891) as a two-part march. However, since that time a lot of different march and jig variations have been created. For this example, I decided to stick with a more traditional four-part march version.

The History of the Atholl Highlanders

Originally the Atholl Highlanders were organized in December 1777 by John Murray (the 4th Duke of Atholl) and were called the “77th Regiment of Foot”. The purpose of the regiment was to act as a relief for other regiments serving in North America, but the group ended up serving most of its time in Ireland and after 5 years of service, the regiment was disbanded in 1783.

More than 50 years later, the regiment was raised again by George Murray (the 6th Duke of Atholl) in 1839 to serve as his personal bodyguard. And a few years later in 1842, the regiment was granted official status by Queen Victoria when she presented the regiment with her colors. Since that time the regiment has served as a bodyguard for the various Dukes of Atholl and any visiting dignitaries.

Today the Atholl Highlanders are officially recognized as the only private army in Europe, but they are mostly considered a small Scottish ceremonial infantry regiment with no military involvement.

Tune Preview

Here’s a video of the entire tune played on the bagpipes to help give you a better idea of what it sounds like before you learn to play the tune.

Sheet Music and Tutorial

If you’ve already enrolled in the Bagpipe Master course, here’s the link to check out the full step-by-step tutorial and download the sheet music:

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