Snuff Mull Made from the Top of a Drum Major’s Mace
The Highlanders’ Museum
This object is called a ‘snuff mull’ and was used to store snuff, a powdered form of tobacco. Snuff was often taken by the more elite members of society, whilst lower classes tended to smoke their tobacco. It was once believed to have medicinal properties.
Having a snuff mull was not at all unusual at the time this object was made. However, this one helps us to understand Scotland’s role in the British empire.
It is made from a silver mace that was once used by a Drum Major in the British Army. It was made by Private Jock Fraser of the 72nd Regiment when he was being held prisoner during the Xhosa Wars in South Africa in the early 1800s. These wars stretched for a period of over one hundred years, the longest ever European colonial conflict. They stemmed from tensions between colonisers and indigenous South Africans. Private Fraser would have undertaken this activity to help him pass the long hours of captivity.