Clan Arthur

Piping Page




From an early time, Clan MacArthur became famous for the number and quality of its pipers. Following the dispersement of the clan after the beheading of Chief Ian, the piping branches were spread widely throughout the Inner Isles, principally at Mull, Ulva, and Islay. By the end of the 17th Century, Skye MacArthur pipers were firmly established at Hunglander on the Trotternish Peninsula., between Kilmuir and Duntulm Castle. The first piper mentioned was Angus (approximately 1665-1745). His son, Charles (c1668-c1768), would become the most famous of the MacArthur pipers.  He studied 11 years under Patrick Og MacCrimmon, the most celebrated piper of his day. Charles had two sons, Donald and Alexander, both good pipers. Charles died  in the late 1700s and was buried at Peingown in the same cemetery as Flora MacDonald. At the time of Charles death, Donald commissioned a carved headstone. The stone read,  "Here lies the remains of Charles MacKarter whose fame as an honest man and a remarkable piper will survive this generation.  For his manners were easy and regular as his music and the melody of his fingers will." The stone was never finished because Donald drowned while bringing a boatload of cattle from Uist to Skye,   leaving the mason unpaid. Therefore the mason abandoned the task. The popularity of  MacArthur and MacCrimmon piping ushered in the bagpipes as Scotland's national instrument, replacing the clarsch or Celtic Harp. Perhaps, the most influential MacArthur piper was also our last hereditary piper to the Lords of the Isles. Angus, son of Charles' brother Ian Ban succeeded his uncle as piper to Lord MacDonald.  Shortly before his death he was responsible for a manuscript of 30 piobaireachds (pronounced 'peebrocks'), six composed by family members. Apparently Angus would play the tunes on a practice chanter while John MacGregor, himself an accomplished musician, set down the tunes in staff notation. These tunes were recorded in the key of C, five notes lower than the now standard key. The current universally accepted key was later standardized by Donald MacDonald and Angus MacKay.  Upon Angus MacArthur's death in 1820, his cousin Alexander, Charles' surviving son, petitioned Lord MacDonald for the position of piper, but was denied. He then immigrated to America. 


Piper at MacArthur Cairn, Duntulm Castle

Piper Image Courtesy of

Clan Donald Centre,

Armadale, Sleat., Skye

(Animation by webmaster)

Lloyd McArthur, High Commissioner of Canada of  Edmonton, Alberta

Peter McArthur, of Fayetteville, NC USA

Clan Arthur Pipers

Jack Lander, Moss Point, MS USA

Robin Gordon Jones of Mount Maunganui, New Zealand

Gordon Jones of Aukland, New Zealand

John Phillip McArthur of Launceston, Tasmania Australia

Mike Hubbard of Hillsboro, OR USA


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