Updated: 25 February, 2019


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Pipes at a 48th Mess Dinner

The duties of the pipers during a 48th Highlanders Mess Dinner (usually the Officer's Mess) are described below. The pipers usually wear full dress for a regimental mess dinner, but this can be changed with permission. If all pipers have buckle shoes and long hose these may be worn.

Pipes Before the Meal

Before the meal a piper plays two dinner calls: the 15 minute and the 5 minute call. For the 15 minute call, or the 1st Mess call, Bannock and Barley Meal is played for the Officers' Mess and Brose and Butter is played for the Sergeant's and Warrant Officer's Mess. For the five minute call the 48th Meal Pipes is played, Caller Herrin'.

Lieutenant Colonel Robertson is played to pipe in the members and guests of the dinner. The head table is piped in with Highland Laddie.

The Pipes will play the Lament, Flowers of the Forest, as part of the fallen comrades service which occurs immediately following the head table being piped in.

Pipes During the Meal

If Haggis is being served at the dinner, the Pipes will play in the Haggis with A Man's A Man. The pipers stand at attention behind the addressee during the address to the haggis. A toast to Robert Burns follows the address. All pipers participate in the toast. The Haggis is then piped out with Neil Gow's Farewell to Whisky.

During the course of the meal the Pipes will enter to perform for the dinner guests. They will play two sets: the first during the main course, and the second during the dessert course. They march counter clockwise around the room stopping at the opposite end of the room from the head table to play a medley during the main course. The dessert set is traditionally a quick-slow-quick and the they march around the room during the entire set.

Any deviation from this timing may only be ordered by the Mess Committee or the Commanding Officer. This is only done under extremely rare circumstances. It is customary for the first set to close with the Regimental March, Highland Laddie, and the second set to close with the CO's March, Lieutenant Colonel Robertson.

The number of Pipers may vary, but the traditional minimum number is five, one per company.

Mess Etiquette

As a member of the Mess attending the dinner it is important to remember that the Pipers are professionals and are playing for the entertainment of the members. Talking should he restrained while the Pipers are playing. It is permissible to eat during their performance although a true devotee of the pipes will enjoy the music by giving his full attention to the Pipers. It may be necessary for members at the head table to continue to talk to their guests, but others should not take this as permission for them to talk during the performance.

The Pipe Major's Toast

The Pipe Major (or senior piper) after playing in the Mess may be called in to receive a 'dram' from the senior officer present.

The Toast

Immediately after the Regimental Toast the Pipe Major will enter and proceed to to a position by the Commanding Officer's left shoulder. The Commanding Officer will rise and face the Pipe Major. The Pipe Major will salute the Commanding Officer who will return the compliment by standing to attention. Each will then pick up a horn from the table. The horns have been filled with liquor of their choice for the toast. The dialogue between the Commanding Officer and the Pipe Major, translated literally is:

Commanding Officer:

A Mhàidseir na pìoba, òlamaid deoch-slàinte!
(Pipe Major, let us drink a toast)

Pipe Major's reply:

A h-uile latha a chì 's nach fhaic, an dà fhicheadamh 's a h-ochd gu bràth! Slàinte don Bhànrigh! Slàinte Mhòr! Slàinte!
(Every day that I see you, or that I don't see you, the 48th forever! Health to the Queen! Great good health! Health!)

Following the words of the toast, the Commanding Officer and the Pipe Major quaff the contents of the horns. The horns are then placed on the table and the Pipe Major again salutes. He then retires from the room.

Company Toasts

The Company Marches are played for the Toasts to the Companies of the Regiment. Each march is played by the company's own piper and that piper alone. As the piper enters the room to the first bars of his company march, that company's commander (or senior rank) will call out his company name "....... Company". All members, or anyone who has been a member of that company, rise to toast their company as follows:

  1. Stand on the chair with your right foot on the table, your left foot on the chair.
  2. Raise your glass in the right hand while saying "Way Up."
  3. Lower your glass while saying "Way Down."
  4. Repeat Steps 2 and 3.
  5. Glasses are raised a third time while saying "Way Up, ___ Company", inserting the name of the company.
  6. Drink the toast.
  7. Return to your seats as the piper plays out of the room.

This procedure is repeated for each company march. During the toast, the glasses are raised to full arms length and lowered almost to the to the table. The company marches are seldom played in order and it is up to the officers to recognize their own marches.

A Company:
Glendaruel Highlanders
B Company:
Scotland the Brave
C Company:
Back O Bennachie
D Company:
Donald's Return from the Wars
Support Company:
Leaving Port Askaig
Head Quarters:
The Hundred Pipers
Battalion Headquarters:
Cock O' the North
The Black Bear

The last march played is always the Regimental March, Highland Laddie. This toast is led by the Commanding Officer.


The Commanding officer or the Mess Committee may request the pipers to stay to play for dancing.