Medieval Reed Instrument
Cromarty Courthouse Museum

This instrument is known for its unusual sound, mostly heard nowadays on children’s television. It is made by vibrating a flexible reed between the lips. This medieval example actually dates from the fifteenth century and, not entirely surprisingly, the flexible reed is now lost.

Several such instruments have been found in the fields where Cromarty’s fair was held in the Middle Ages, giving us a wonderful sensory picture of what life must have been like.

This instrument has been known for centuries as a Jew’s Harp. This name is now sometimes viewed as derogatory, though this may not have been the original intention. From the late eighteenth century, a common variant on the name was Jaw’s Harp. In Britain, it was also sometimes called a geegaw.

Recent research suggests that they were made in the Low Countries (modern day Belgium and the Netherlands) as records have been discovered showing that they were imported in barrels into Leith Docks on the Firth of Forth.

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Date: 1400-1500
Materials : Metal
Size : 5cm x 2cm 

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