Highland Scots of North Carolina | Luncheon Lecture | Historical Society of Topsail Island

Highland Scots of North Carolina
Luncheon & Lecture
Historical Society of Topsail Island

Luncheon Lecture

November 9, 2023 11:00 AM

The Historical Society of Topsail Island is proud to present William S. Caudill, the founder of the Scottish Heritage Center and the pipe band at St. Andrews University, who will speak about the Highland Scots of North Carolina.

About our speaker…

Bill Caudill is a native of Waxhaw, North Carolina. He is descended from both Highland Scots and Ulster Scots families who settled in the Carolina sandhills and piedmont regions, respectively. He was an avid history buff from a very young age and this, combined with an interest in music, led him to take up the Scottish bagpipe at the age of nine – which he has pursued to great success in becoming one of the few Southern-born players of the 20th century to reach the Professional level of playing and competition and taking prizes in the USA and Canada.  He graduated from St. Andrews Presbyterian College with a B.A. degree (with Honors) in History in 1989 and also completed graduate studies in Folklore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, receiving the M.A. degree in Folklore and History (American Studies). His M.A. thesis dealt with the history and associated oral traditions relative to the last Highland emigration to North Carolina which occurred in Scotland, Robeson, Richmond, and Moore Counties in 1884, and involved research and oral history fieldwork both in North Carolina and Scotland. He has given lectures and other presentations for countless historical and genealogical societies throughout the Carolinas and has also presented lectures on the history of Scottish settlements in the Carolinas and the cultural retentions of Highland Scots in the Carolinas at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as well as at a symposium on Scottish Gaelic Culture in North America sponsored by Harvard University in honor of their late Chair of Celtic Studies, Dr. Charles W Dunn.

Caudill is the founder of the Scottish Heritage Center and the pipe band at St. Andrews University (formerly St. Andrews Presbyterian College), where he was hired after graduation in 1989 to launch those programs. Since that time, the Scottish Heritage Center has become a clearinghouse of information for those researching the experience of Scots in the Carolinas.
Under Caudill’s leadership, The St. Andrews University Pipe Band rose to become one of the top competing pipe bands in the Eastern United States, winning the Eastern United States Pipe Band Championship for Grade III in 2006 – the only year that the band’s academic schedule allowed them to participate. The band was also Southern U.S. Champion, a prize which has been won several times since 1999.

Caudill has been featured by Our State magazine several times and was named “The Voice of Scotland County” by that magazine in 2016 in their identification of the 100 individuals who best represented each county in North Carolina. In 2018 he was awarded “The Order of the Longleaf Pine” by Governor Roy Cooper for his outstanding contributions to the preservation of Scottish history and culture in North Carolina as well as his contributions to the good and welfare of Scotland County.

His ongoing research interests include the 19th century cultural retentions of Highland Scots in the Carolinas, as well as the survivals of the Gaelic language and piping in North Carolina’s Highland settlements. Caudill resides in Laurinburg, North Carolina – within minutes of the graves of 8 emigrant Highland Scottish ancestors. He is married to Anne (McLean) Caudill a Robeson County native of Scottish descent, and they have two sons – John, a Film Studies and Directing major at the UNC School of the Arts, and Daniel, a History and Religious Studies major at UNC-Chapel Hill who is following in his father’s footsteps as a prize-winning piper.

Save the date, November 9, 2023.

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