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Medieval Harp for Sale

19 string "Gaelic" wire-strung harp by Tim Hobrough

Tim Hobrough Harp in Profile Lap harp with brass wire strings, tuning key. No case but is easily wrapped to carry, very light.
Used and in very good condition.

  • 19 strings with approx 11mm spacing (measured perpendicular to strings)
  • currently tuned diatonically from G to d
  • Body length: 52cm / 20.5 inches;
  • Foot to top of pillar: 58cm/ 13 inches
  • Back of neck to front of pillar: 33cm / 13 inches
  • Body is 11cm / 4.3 inches wide at foot, tapers slightly up to shoulders
    (All measurements approx)
  • Weight: 1688gm / 3lb 11.5 oz

An excellent opportunity to own a decent small wire strung harp, suitable for re-enactment of medieval period, or for practising the skills of wire-string playing without spending out too painfully.

The Maker

Tim Hobrough is famed for making beautiful harps, played by top early harp professionals. He described this harp to me as a prototype, which is why it's astonishingly cheap for a Hobrough harp.


Tim Hobrough Harp box edge The soundboard is fastened to a hollowed out body block. The join can be seen in this image (left), but you have to look carefully.
The harp is handmade from proper wood, which helps the sound waves reverberate through the whole harp, rather than the plywood found in many cheaper harps, where the sound encounters the barriers of glue and grain runnning in different directions. This is particularly relevant in a small, low tension harp like this.


Tim Hobrough Harp back of box screwed on The back of the body is held in place with small screws. (image right) These can safely be removed to take off the back when changing strings, which makes the operation a lot quicker. Anyone who's used to changing wire strings through the holes in the soundboard will quickly appreciate this!
This is one of the features of its being a prototype, reflected in the low price.

Sound clips

Here are three mp3 files to give some idea of sound. They were not recorded in studio conditions.

Ja Nuns Hons Pris, by King Richard I

Two voice "Ductia" parts I & II(Quote marks here because that's only the name ascribed to this untitled piece)

Bransle Charlotte from "Orchesographie"



It's a very friendly little harp at about a quarter of the price of the best-known worthwhile small wire-strung harps.

I bought this harp in the early 1990's when starting my work on heritage sites, and first learning to play clarsach. It's ideal for playing in a quiet chamber, or in a tent, which is entirely period-appropriate for the way such a harp would have been used. The tone is quiet, so not suited to noisy outside settings; but it still has that magical ring of wire strings, quite diferent to gut strung harps, and is surprisingly carrying. Its first gig was out of doors on English Heritage's Middleham Castle, where I was gratified by how well the audience told me it did carry!
Its close-spaced strings are best suited to playing with fingernails, thereby getting more tone, but also sounds pleasing with gentle fingertip playing.

Its 19 strings are quite enough for a good range of medieval or early celtic music; it's also great for sitting quietly and doodling with - very calming and therapeutic! It's additionally suited to insomniacs, being quiet enough to play without disturbing others in the house, (or if ill, light enough to rest on the chest while lying in bed in the dark...!)
The strings are not colour coded, as I was learning to play as a blind harper, in the manner of so many early harpers, but they can easily be marked if preferred.

Like all wire-strung harps it needs certain skill in tuning, and again in common with its family it likes the shade far more than the sunshine.

While wire strung harps were made in Scotland and Ireland, with evidence from at least 1000 years ago, it's also known that Gaelic harpers went on the crusades with their lords; later, when King James came to England as James I, he brought his harper with him. It's always seemed to me perfectly reasonable to play a whole range of period tunes from various places on the wire strings, and many medieval tunes respond thoroughly well to this.

Location and Price

The harp is currently in Northampton, and I would expect you to want to meet it before buying. The expected price is 235 pounds sterling.

Hobrough harp from front

richard at richard hyphen york dot co dot uk

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Happy looking!

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