Image Alt

Bronze Age

Original Instruments
Bronze Age

Trumpets, Horns & Wicklow Pipes

All images © The National Museum of Ireland.

Bronze Age

The Wicklow Pipes

In the winter of 2003, a number of wooden tubes or pipes were uncovered during a rescue archaeological dig at Charlesland, Co. Wicklow near the East coast of Ireland. In December 2003 the pipes were formally identified by Simon O’Dwyer and Peter Holmes and named ‘The Wicklow Pipes’.

Subsequently Dr. Peter Holmes was invited by Prehistoric Music Ireland and The International Study Group of Music Archaeology to present a study paper of the pipes at their world conference in September 2004. A carbon dating test was performed on the pipes and the result being 4170 + or – 30 placed them at the transition from the Stone Age into the Early Bronze Age. Dr. Holmes presented the paper to great acclaim at the conference and an experimental reproduction of the originals was played successfully. They were blown briefly by Pat Kenny for the first time in public on the live television chat show called The Late Late Show in December 2004. In early 2005 the first composition for Wicklow pipes, double bass and marimba by Michael Holohan was performed as part of a concert in Drogheda, Co. Louth. The great age of these pipes and the undoubted complexity of the design and manufacturing involved, place them in the forefront of recent music archaeological finds and there is no doubt that further research will reveal a great deal more about them and the people who played them.

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