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Journal article

The Lamont and Queen Mary Harps

3 March 2012

Abstract

The Lamont and Queen Mary harps of National Museums Scotland are two of the oldest surviving examples of the harp of Ireland and the Highlands of Scotland. Growing interest in these iconic instruments has led to a need for new research into their materials and construction. With recent advances in imaging and analytical tools, these instruments can now be examined and understood to a much greater degree than previously possible. With this in mind, the authors have undertaken a research project to study the Lamont and Queen Mary harps. Each harp underwent CT-scanning, and a visual and photographic survey, with x-ray fluorescence and scanning electron microscopy – energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy of selected areas of interest. The CT scanning was conducted at the Clinical Research Imaging Centre of Queen’s Medical Research Institute, and the survey and laboratory analysis were conducted at the National Museums Scotland Collection Centre. This paper presents the initial findings of this project. The interior construction of the harps, hidden internal damage and repairs, pattern of the wood grain, and current state of the wood are discussed. Results of the visual and photographic survey and analysis of the composition of pigments and metal parts are also presented and discussed in the context of the findings from the CT scans. Additionally, contour maps of the soundboard thickness generated from the CT scanning data for each harp are presented.

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