With its origins dating back to Ancient Greece, variants of the hammered dulcimer exist in many parts of the world (see Dulcimers Around the World map.)
In 15th - 18thC the hammered dulcimer was popular in the UK. However, in the 18thC a fantastic new instrument based on the dulcimer, the piano, was developed and the popularity of the dulcimer declined.
Despite the drop in its popularity after the piano was introduced, the dulcimer didn't die out completely in the UK; a few areas of the country retained communities of players: notably, Birmingham, East Anglia, Glasgow, London and Ulster (N. Ireland).
During the folk revival of the 1970's this was extended to other parts of the UK and now in the 21stC a small but stable community of players exists nationally.
Photo: UK players performing at the Dulcimer World Congress