‘A Splash of Tartan’  - Friday 25th August 2017

An amazing evening for seventy Duries gathered from eight countries to parade on the Esplanade of Edinburgh Castle in front of 6,000 visitors from all over the world. Each night of this year’s Tattoo opened with representatives of two or three different Clans or Families brought together by the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs (SCSC) and in celebration, at the Tattoo, of Scotland’s Official Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.  We shared our night with another old Fife Family, the famous Bruces, of  the Scottish hero king, Robert the Bruce fame.

L-R: First and fourth are the Durie pipers: Sir Andrew Forbes of Corse and Malcolm Innes.

We mustered on Castle Hill and assembled under the VIP stand right at the top of The Royal Mile, the Bruces and the Duries swathed in as much tartan as we could wear to make our 'Splash of Tartan' - the Tattoo's title for the year . Then, led by pipers of both Families, we went up the bare esplanade surrounded by the eerily empty seats that would be filled later, only the red jacketed Tattoo staff were around and on the gantries.

Up and across the drawbridge, in under the portcullis into the Castle ‘proper’. Here we were met by the incredible sound of all the pipe bands tuning and playing on either side of us, right up close! They were ranged on either side of the cobbled path some beside the rock face and the others on the ramparts high above the city. The pipers and drummers came from all over the world and were all ages. This was the first knock-out impression of the evening.  What a welcome!


The Elgin Regiment from Canada escorted the Great Sword of Robert the Bruce up into the Castle with bands ranged and playing on both sides.


LHS: James Dewar Durie carried the Durie banner up Hawk Hill to the Castle with his wife Alex as escort.  Philip Dewar Durie carried the shield with the Chief's arms created for the Gathering in 2009. RHS: The Chief on his way up to Crown Square.


We all walked up past the Governor’s House and into The Queen’s Court. The Family and Retinue posed all together – flanked by the pipers - on the War Memorial steps in front of its impressive façade.

L – R: A rousing Hurrah! The Chief with his close family and cousins.


Into the magnificence of the Castle’s historic Great Hall! Its scale, panelling, decorative windows, armoury, escutcheons – great finery! A very impressive place for the Families’ Splash of Tartan to gather and meet. And then to be given an exceptional display of drumming by Royal Marines.


The ‘Retinue’ gathered, L-R Ruth Moir sister to Pipe Major David Moir: James Durie tried, unsuccessfully, to be permitted to hold the Great Sword but the Canadians took their guard duties  seriously; Dr Bruce Durie, Shennachie to the Chief and the DFA holding his Shennachie’s Ell-Wand!


After Brig. Peter Allfrey, CEO and Producer of the Tattoo, gave a warm welcome to all assembled and Lord Charles Bruce greeted the Bruce Family, on behalf of his father their Chief, the Earl of Elgin and Kincardine, Andrew Durie of Durie spoke to the Durie Retinue.


Edinburgh Garrison Sergeant Major and Tattoo RSM Alex McBroom began to try and drill some sort of military order into 100 Bruce and 70 Durie shuffling civilians, probably relieved he had the support of the more disciplined Elgin Regiment of Canadians! He ranged us up in two columns three deep – ready for the signal to Step Out and keep to his and the Tattoo's strict timing schedule.


The Chiefs were given their specific instructions and marching orders!


And then – the next emotive moment - we all set off back down the rampart path in two columns led by the pipers of both families, followed by the Chiefs, supporters and retinues.        


Duries in the their column walked down the hill towards the portcullis gate, towards the Esplanade.

Under the portcullis, on down towards the final drawbridge and out into the spotlight of the Tattoo.


Into the arena! Another incredible moment. Under the watchful eyes of the statues of Robert the Bruce on the left and William Wallace on the right., led by RSM McBroom the Durie pipers Andrew Forbes and Malcolm Innes were followed by the Chief’s family and the banner and shield and the whole retinue..


The crowd, already seated, welcomed us all.


The RSM had drilled us well – or was it the Royal Naval Guard of Honour preventing any retreat we might want to make, formed up between us and the Castle? We were ready for the evening’s Salute Taker to arrive.


General Joe Dunforth, USMC, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff arrived with his host British Chief of Defence Staff Air Chief Marshal Stuart Peach and Brig. David Allfrey. General Dunforth took the official salute of the Guard of Honour and was then introduced to the Chiefs and together they all drank – as is tradition - a quaich with the Lone Piper.  The whisky in the quaichs was a link between the two Families parading, The Durie Dram’ – selected by the Durie Family and blended and bottled in Fife by Adelphi Distillers whose CEO is Hon. Alex Bruce.

Then to our seats and The 2017 Tattoo, ‘A Splash of Tartan’ began!


As Lord Charles Bruce said: “It was an incredibly evocative event from start to finish and will be etched forever in the collective memory of our families.” And we were all proud and delighted to share with their famous family and to march with them on our splendid joint Tattoo night. A unique experience!

The last word from our Chief, Andrew Durie: “A marvellous event, superbly organised by the Tattoo Staff. It was an occasion never to be repeated. New friendships were made, old friendships renewed. I was immensely proud to lead our column onto the Castle Esplanade behind our pipers, and share the true comradeship of our shared lineage and heritage. I sincerely hope we can build on this, just as we have built on the experiences of our Gatherings in 2009 and 2014.”


Photograph Credits: Ian Georgeson,  REMT and Family.

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