The Lamont harp

Damage and repairs

The Lamont harp is displayed in the National Museum of Scotland, but not in its beautiful art deco display case which was made for it in 1904 (that case now houses the Queen Mary harp). The Lamont harp is instead displayed tucked away in a little cubbyhole around the corner, so that you can only see one side of it. I think that one eason for this is the extreme distortion and bending of the entire frame of the harp, which makes it look very odd from many angles.

Lamont harp

Lamont harp

Lamont harp
3D anaglyph image
red/cyan goggles required

There are a number of significant pieces of damage which were suffered by the harp during its working life. Karen Loomis's MMus dissertation for the University of Edinburgh (2010) describes the damage and repairs to the harp in great detail, based on recent CT scans of the harp. Preliminary results of this work are published in the Galpin Society Journal, vol LXV, March 2012.

The pillar has broken right in two, and one end has been replaced; the replacement has also broken and been repaired at least twice. Also, the neck has broken where it joins the box, and has split and twisted along its length. These distortions mean that we do not really know what the string lengths (and therefore the notes) of the harp were when it was first made.

There is also a crack along the side of the box, repaired with bronze straps inside, and also a glued on patch inside made from a 17th century legal document. On the outside of the crack is the inscription dating from the 1650s.

All of this damage is very interesting to organologists because it was all carefully repaired, to keep the harp usable - the broken harp was not abandoned and discarded, but was carefully worked on to keep it in playing order.

If you want to find out more about the damage to the Lamont harp you can read the old version of this page.


Simon Chadwick