The Leichestown, Deskford carnyx with a reconstruction above.
The carnyx was a wind instrument of the Iron Age Celtic tribes used between c. 300 BC and c. AD 200. It was a type of bronze trumpet held vertically, the bell styled in the shape of a boar or other animal's head. It was used in warfare, probably to incite troops to battle and intimidate opponents. The instrument's upright carriage allowed it to be heard over the heads of the warriors in battle or participants in ceremonies. The Greek historian Diodorus Siculus writing between 60 and 30 BC informs us that "their trumpets again are of a peculiar barbaric kind; they blow into them and produce a harsh sound which suits the tumult of war".
The well preserved Deskford Carnyx was found at the farm of Leitchestown in the parish of Deskford in 1816. It was donated to Banff Museum, and is now on loan from Aberdeenshire Museums Service to the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. The location and age of the Deskford Carnyx suggests the instrument had a peaceful, ceremonial use and was not only used in warfare. This report describes the find:
"There was found, about twenty years ago, on the confines of a farm called Leichestown, the resemblance of a swine’s head in brass, of the ordinary size, with a wooden tongue moveable by springs. It also had eyes, and the resemblance in every respect was wonderfully exact. It was found at a depth of about six feet, in a mossy and knolly piece of ground on a bed of clay."