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
We have found a maker of
Wooden Quaichs. They are hand-turned from mostly Scottish timber in the workshop of
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
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
In addition to his many off-the-peg
Quaichs, he offers an engraving service. 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
For more details about these wooden Quaichs, you
can go directly to Stewarts website by clicking on his logo "The Wooden
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 ultimately 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
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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.
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 1589 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"
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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