The site for all Scots, Scots descendants and Scotophiles, right across the world     

A light-hearted e-magazine with facts, figures, folklore, photographs; with lots of wee bits  of general info about Scotland - and some big bits. A site for folk to read, browse and, if you like - contribute to.


In WEE BITS, in The Mag., thre's an article on the correct colour of Blue for The Saltire WELCOME to Find it in Scotland. The site's navigation menu Main Headings are down the left-hand panel. Click on these to see what's in each one. Some sections have a LOT in them.
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 Crafts of Scotland...

~Handmade Wooden Quaichs~

The Quaich  comes in many sizes and materials. Traditionally, the early Quaichs were wooden, and were items of everyday use; later on, when they became fashionable as gifts, they began to be made of more expensive and exotic materials.

We have found a maker of Wooden Quaichs. They are hand-turned from mostly Scottish timber in the workshop of Quaich hand turned from oakStewart McCarroll,  near Perth. Due to the natural qualities of wood, each quaich is completely unique. They are, therefore, an excellent and traditional gift to mark special occasions: weddings, as "loving cups", retirements, golf or Highland Games trophies, for Burns night or St Andrews day, or any other celebration, especially surrounding Scottish traditions.

Last year was also the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns: Stewart can trace in his Family Tree none other than Tam o' Shanter's "ancient, trusty, drouthy crony" - Souter Johnny. So in this year of the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns birth, he wanted to produce a quaich specially to celebrate the work of Scotlands Bard. He did so, and you can find details of this on his website - link below.

  In addition to his many off-the-peg Quaichs, he offers an engraving clan crest engraved quaichservice. Either a polished aluminium or a sterling silver disc can be inset into the underside of the foot. Or, if the quaich is not intended for drinking from, it can be inserted into the base of the bowl as can be seen in the picture on the left.

For more details about these wooden Quaichs, you can go directly to Stewarts website by clicking on his logo "The Wooden Quaich"...

Quaichs made from Scottish wood 

Now, a wee bit of history...

 It is thought that the name QUAICH is derived from the Gaelic word 'cuach' which is itself a derivation of the Latin 'caucus' meaning drinking cup. Although the origin is Gaelic, this type of cup was known and used both in the Highlands and in the Lowlands of Scotland certainly since the seventeenth century and probably before. It has been suggested that its ancestor was the scallop shell in which drams of whisky were taken in the Highlands and Islands. However, the origins of this theory seem to be based on references taken from the "Poems of Ossian", which is now widely regarded as an immensely influential but ultimoak belt quaichately a literary hoax.

Another late 19th century theory was that they were derived from 17th century shallow two handled european bleeding dishes. However, some experts tend to agree with the american collector Richard L McClenahan who  suggested in his two volume monograph "Some Scottish Quiachs" that the quaich is more likely to have evolved from the ubiquitous medieval drinking vessel, the mazer. These often highly ornate and prized drinking vessels share many attributes with early quaichs and it not to difficult to imagine the pragmatic scots adding lugs to improve the function and ease of use. Unlike bleeding dishes and scallops shells, mazers and quaichs are deep enough to provide an adequate dram.

* * *

Although the origins of the quaich are shrouded in the fog of history, a rich seam of traditions has continued to evolve. Many of the most impressive surviving quaichs were commissioned to mark special occasions, such as births or weddings. Some scottish churches have superb early silver quaichs which seem to have been used in the baptismal ceremony, others have been used as communion cups.

spalted beech quaichspalted beech quaich

  In the late 19th and early 20th centuries there developed a strong tradition of quaichs within the British Armed Forces which continues to this day. Either as part of regimental mess silver or as retirement gifts. The quaich can be seen as an token of the strong sense of comradeship formed during military service.

  The link to weddings is often attributed to James VI of Scotland who in 158large and medium sycamore quaich9 is reputed to have presented Anne of Denmark with a quaich as a loving cup before their wedding.

  In more recent times the quaich has been used in a ceremony at the top table to mark the joining of two families in love and friendship and to welcome the bride and groom into their newly extended family. It is also frequently used in modern "hand fasting" ceremonies.

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Our thanks to Stewart McCarroll of The Wooden Quaich Co. for permission to use text and images from his website in this article. To visit his website, just click on his logo...

... Quaichs made from Scottish wood





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