Forres and District Pipe Band was formed by many players who had served in either the regular or territorial battalions of the Seaforth Highlanders which was the local Moray infantry regiment.
The Pipe Band therefore chose to wear many of the Seaforth associated items of dress. Notably they wore the Mackenzie kilt and the crest of the Seaforths as the Pipe Band does today.
The crest is a stag’s head ‘caboshed’- or cut off at the neck- and comes from the crest of the Mackenzies of Seaforth which had its origin in the dramatic incident when Colin Fitzgerald saved King Alexander 111 from being gored to death by a stag. He shouted ‘Cuidich ‘n Righ!’ (Help the King in Gaelic) as he plunged his spear into the stag behind its antlers. Other accounts suggest he cut off the stag’s head with his sword.
‘Cabar Feidh’ is Gaelic for the Deers’ Antlers. This became the battle cry of the Mackenzies. The Chief of the Clan became known as ‘The Cabar Feidh’. The Earls of Seaforth died out and the present chief is the Earl of Cromartie of Castle Leod near Dingwall.
Colin Fitzgerald later founded the Mackenzie Clan and his descendants became the Earls of Seaforth. The Mackenzies of Seaforth raised both the 72nd in 1778 and 78th Highlanders in 1793 which were amalgamated to form the Seaforth Highlanders in 1881.The 72nd had used the stag’s head and motto ‘Cabar Feidh’ in their cap badge but the 78th and then the Seaforths used the stag’s head and the motto ‘Cuidich ‘n Righ’ in their cap badges. It was the only Regiment to have a Gaelic motto in its crest.
When the Seaforth Highlanders were amalgamated with The Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders in 1961, the new Regiment – the Queen’s Own Highlanders- adopted the stag’s head and Cuidich ‘n Righ motto and added the Camerons’ thistle and crown above the stag’s head. They also wore the Mackenzie tartan kilt.
When the Queen’s Own Highlanders amalgamated in 1994 with The Gordon Highlanders, who also had a stag’s head in their crest but one with a neck, the Queen’s Own Highlanders’ badge was the selected crest and cap badge for the new Regiment –The Highlanders.
Now all the former Highland and Lowland Regiments have been amalgamated to form The Royal Regiment of Scotland and their cap badge is a lion rampant on a St Andrew’s cross with a Latin motto: ‘Nemo Me Impune Lacessit’. Thus the link with the language of Scotland has been lost.
And so the Forres Pipe Band is probably the only organisation to wear the key elements of the Seaforth, Queen’s Own Highlanders’ and Highlanders’ cap badge together with the Mackenzie kilt. ‘Cabar Feidh’ remains the battle cry of the Mackenzies, of former members of these Regiments and of today’s Highlanders, the 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland who still recruit in Moray.
What a story, what a heritage. Wear the ‘Cabar Feidh’ and the Gaelic motto ‘Cuidich ‘n Righ’ with great pride. Those regiments had and today’s battalion still has the best pipers in the British Army. May those special skills rub off on today’s pipers and drummers!
Major General The Hon Seymour Monro CBE, LVO, DL.