The Lamont harp

The Lamont harp is very curious. It is usually dated c.1400 - 1450 (based on Robertson family history) but it is quite different to the late medieval Queen Mary and Trinity harps and I wonder if it is not somewhat later, midway between the two medieval harps and the Otway harp, i.e. perhaps c. 1500 - 1550?

Apart from its plain surfaces - it bears no decoration on the wood save delicate lining, and the decorated metalwork which may be later additions - the harp has other "later" features. Perhaps most notable is the T-section of the forepillar; in contrast to the Trinity and Queen Mary but like all 16th century and later Gaelic harps, it has a flat T reinforcement rather than one shaped as a rounded fish body. The ends of the T are carved into a vestigial fish head - very different from the bulging eyes and fat lips on the Queen Mary, and perhaps more like those depicted on the painting by Timm (1622) and the engraving in Praetorius's "Syntagma Musicum".


Simon Chadwick