339 The Kilberry Book of Ceol Meadhonach by John & Archibald Campbell

An update by Geoff Hore 2008-2015.  The writing in black font is from A Bibliography of Bagpipe Music. The update comments are in blue font.


Cannon identified two editions of this book. The present writer has found another editions that predates editions Ia and II below. For this reason the edition numbering has been revised and the recently located book will become edition I. The book thought by Cannon to be edition I will now become edition Ia and because Kilberry called the book published in 1931 edition II it will retain that number here.

I      1909

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title: p [iii], note; pp [v-vii], introduction; p [viii], contents; pp [ix-x], index; pp 1-21, tunes 1-43; pp [22- 26], notes on the tunes.

  • The Author’s Collection. Boards. Cloth. Leather spine and corners.
  • Private Collection.  Lewis Turrell of Auckland; 2 books. Boards. Cloth. Leather spine and corners.

The three books seen by the writer are identical except for one detail. Inside the front cover of the two books in Lewis Turrell’s collection there is a rubber stamped image as follows;

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The book in the writer’s collection has been rebound and any evidence of such a stamp has been removed. There is little doubt that these three editions predate the book Cannon thought was edition I.

In the two books in Lewis Turrell’s collection there is a handwritten dedication in each. One has ‘Pipe Major Meldrum with the Author’s Compliments 1909” and the other has “Donald MacPhail with the Author’s Compliments.”

A note in the second edition, quoted below, and a biographical notice in the Piping Times, May 1968, p 11, both imply the publication date 1908. But in Henderson’s regular series of advertisements in the Celtic Monthly this book first appears ‘now ready’, price 3s. 6d., in February 1909. A review was published in the same journal, April 1909.

The authors define ceol meadhonach (‘middle’ music) as ‘such tunes as are neither constructed in the measure of Piobaireachd, nor adapted to the quick march or dance’. They are more usually known as slow marches, retreat marches, or simply ‘airs’. Some of the tunes in this book had been current for some time previously, but many were newly adapted by the editors from Highland folk songs and other sources. The historical notes are a unique and valuable feature of the work.

Ia      After 1918

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Front cover

title: p [iii], note; pp [v-vii], introduction; p [viii], contents; pp [ix-x], index; pp 1-21, tunes 1-43; pp [22- 26], notes on the tunes.

  • Roderick Cannon’s Collection.* Paper covers. 6.8 x 10.2″.
  • Bodleian Library, Oxford.* Cloth gilt. Received 23 February 1909
  • National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh.* 6. 8 x 10. 1′. Received 19 February 1909.
  • University Library, Aberdeen.
  • University Library, Cambridge.
  • University Library, Cambridge. Received 19 February 1909. British Library, London.
  • Black Gate Museum, Newcastle. (dated [1909] in catalogue).
  • The Author’s Collection. Paper covers.

This book was not considered by Peter Henderson or Campbell of Kilberry to be a new edition and may be considered a reissue. We know this because the one below has ‘Note to second edition’ on page [ii].

It has a paper cover with ‘Peter Henderson Ltd., 24 Renfrew Street, Glasgow.’ The change of address to 24 Renfrew Street occurred in 1907. However, the use of ‘Ltd’ does not seem to have occurred until much later. The writer has a photocopy of an invoice dated 2 March 1918 and it has Peter Henderson, without the Ltd. This is not proof that Henderson’s did not use Ltd earlier but the present writer has not found such use. The earliest known use of Ltd occurs on the title-page of Some Piobaireachd Studies by G F Ross 1926 (No 353 below).

The contents are the same as edition I and the only difference is that this one has paper covers. It appears the publishers used the original plates and then created a new paper cover with the updated imprint.

Edition I was advertised for sale in the Celtic Monthly at 3s 6d in 1909. This edition (Ia) has the price 2s 6d and this, along with the use of Ltd indicates a later publication date. It was most likely published after 1918 and before 1931.

Above the general index in two of the books is an errata slip stating that the tune on page 19, The Braes of Rannoch, bar two, the third note should be high G in place of A. This change was not made in edition 1a but was in edition II.

II      Title as I above.

The front cover is the same as that in edition Ia.

p [i], title; p [ii], ‘Note to Second Edition’; pp [iii-v], introduction; p [vi], contents; pp [vii-viii], index; pp 1-25, tunes 1-50; pp [26-31], notes on the tunes.

  • Central Public Library, Edinburgh.* Library binding. 6.6 x 10.2”.
  • Mitchell Library, Glasgow. Dated [1931] in catalogue.
  • The Author’s Collection.

The note on p [ii] reads, ‘The survivor of the two Editors has taken advantage of the call for a reprint to include seven other Tunes, Nos. 44-50, and to make some alterations and corrections in Nos. 7, 10, 29, 34, 35, and 38. In other respects the book has been left as it was first published twenty-three years ago. A. Campbell. Cambridge, May, 1931.’

Askew gives the publication date 1931 and publisher Peter Henderson. Presumably the imprint appeared on the cover as in edition 1.

Unicorn Limited Inc in USA offers a reproduction on CD. See www.scotpress.com.


  • Rev 01.

© Geoff Hore