The harp is Scotland’s oldest national instrument. Long before the arrival of the bagpipe it was the mainstay of Gaelic courtly music. The earliest depictions of the instrument can be found on Pictish stones, dating back to the 8th century. It came in two different forms: the earlier Pictish harp, strung with gut or horsehair, and the Gaelic clarsach, strung with wire. The clarsach was the primary instrument of the Gaelic courts until the introduction of the bagpipe in the 15th century and remained central to Gaelic courtly music until the mid-18th century. It also played a key role in the music of the early Celtic church. Harpers themselves were a highly trained class of professionals who spent years perfecting their art and were held in esteem second only to that of the clan poet.