The set of six pipes and fragments which were recovered at Charlesland, Co. Wicklow in 2003 are being studied by Dr. Peter Holmes and Prehistoric Music Ireland on an ongoing basis. The first experimental reproduction so beautifully made by Dr. Holmes allows for the pipes to be sounded and relationships established between notes.
It is not known, however, if the fipples which are added to each pipe as a tone generator are the correct way to generate the note as only the pipes themselves were recovered. It is also possible to speculate that the originals were sounded by air from a bag and bellows rather then from human breath.
A further intriguing question arises when attempting to identify the method employed to make the originals. Essentially the pipes are cylindrical wooden tubes. They were carved or drilled out until an even internal bore was achieved along the length whilst making the side wall as light as possible. The age of the pipes at 4170 years ago places them in the transition from the Stone Age into the Bronze Age. The tubes were not split along the length, carved and then joined again. Further, there is no evidence of burning on the internal wood surfaces. At present the Wicklow Pipes are being conserved and this process may last for a year or more. So we wait until we can look again closely at how they may have been made.
Illustrations by Dr. Peter Holmes.