History of the Scots and Scots-Irish

History of the Scots and Scots-Irish
Great Scots
Tartan Day: A Day of Scottish Pride
Clans: A Brief History
Genealogical Resources and Research
The Scottish Cook: Recipies of the People


“Human beings are the product and embodiment of their own past. It is only by contact with this past, in thinking and in relationships, that we exist…. For an individual the destruction of memory means the destruction of personality. The same is true for societies: their history is the main component of their present identity. It is history that makes each individual unique in their interpretation and response to current events. It is history that binds a cultural group together. The study of social and cultural history also provides useful lessons and warnings about the kind of mistakes societies are particularly prone to, but its main significance is in enabling us to know ourselves….  Learning and understanding more about cultural heritage allows people a richer fuller appreciation of their own lives and place in the community.” – Rosalind Mitchison

The steady movement of peoples back and forth between Scotland and Ireland had been a common occurance since well before recorded history. A tribe of Scots coming from Ireland reached the west coast of what we recognize today as Scotland about 500 AD. Their descendants bear the names of the McDonalds, the MacNeils, the Fergusons and many others.

Geographically, Scotland is divided into three distinct regions; the Highlands and Islands in the north and west, the fertile green central Lowlands along the east coast and the broad valleys and hills of the southern Uplands along the English border. The geographic conditions which defined these three regions of Scotland had a significant impact on the events that helped create the differences in culture, language and the economy which defined the regions. Due to the isolation imposed by the rough terrain and lack of transportation between the regions, the Highlanders and the Lowlanders didn’t know each other any better than they knew the border dwellers. For centuries the three societies and cultures grew independently; as a result they all looked upon each other with a certain amount of contempt. Several failed attempts to draw the Highlands and Borders into the central sphere of  Lowland Scottish affairs only strengthened the regional identities of those involved. These efforts, directed from Edinburgh, not only involved military force, but political, religious and educational sanctions as well. These regional differences created different people; they need to be understood in order to understand the contributions of the Scots and Ulster Scots in America.

King James VI of Scotland had been king since he was 13 months old, his mother Mary, Queen of Scots abdicating in his favor in 1567. Scotland was governed in his name by several regents until James gained full control in 1581. After the death of Queen Elizabeth I,  James inherited the throne of England in 1603 as James I. He would rule England, Ireland, and Scotland for 22 years. King James VI & I ruled three very different countries. They all were burdened with ancient animosities both internal and  toward each other.


The treaty of mellifont, signed in 1603, ended the Nine Years’ War between Irish Rebels and England. James I appointed government officials to pass new laws, demanding oaths of allegiance as well as recognition for the Church of England. The Treaty of Mellifort gave the “Irish Earls” an opportunity to leave Ireland (The flight of the Earls). This did not provide recognition for them, nor was James foolish enough to do anything favorable to Roman Catholics given the temper of the times

For over 300 years, authorities in both Scotland and England had tried to deal with the lawlessness of the Scottish borders as well. James thought he could solve both problems. He sectioned off land in Northern Ireland and encouraged farmers from the Lowlands and Borders of Scotland to emigrat to the resulting “Plantations”. James thought he was securing a loyal following in the predominantly Catholic country by transplanting faithful Presbyterians along with some native English (most of whom soon went back to England).

Living under virtual siege in the predominantly Catholic Ulster regions of Northern Ireland, the newly planted Scottish Presbyterians quickly turned towards a focus of  family, business and their kirk (church). Their success in the textile trade was phenomenal. However, laws were soon passed to tax and limit their success.


During the 18th century many europeans set sail for america. Among them were between 145,000 and 250,000 Scottish and Scots-Irish seeking freedom and new opportunities. Many of them could not afford their passage; without any other options they were often forced to become what were known as indentured servants, bond servants, or redemptioners; a fate little better than slavery. Most of them came to the Southern colonies. By signing an agreement to work a number of years under an “owner” who had paid their passage, the servants were compelled to work at anything for any amount of time needed, often being poorly fed and beaten at the will of their master. Due to this harsh treatment, many attempted to flee their fate.

Many Scottish emigrants to the Carolinas moved inland towards the “Backcountry”, as most of the coastal land was already occupied. Many of the Highland Scots were middle class land owners, spinners and weavers, and military pensioners. According the the author and historian Edward Tunis:

These people were by temperament the utter antithesis of Quaker calm and of German thrift. They took the land they wanted and dared anybody to move them; seldom did anyone do so. They were fiercely independent and stubbornly belligerent. It is said that when the break came with England, there was not even one Tory to be found among the Scots-Irish.

The last statement, while a slight exageration, could certainly be applied to the large Scots-Irish community of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. Almost all of the signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence came from this group. The Mecklenburg Declaration was signed on May 20, 1775. This document was the first of its kind in Britain’s North American colonies – a fierce and defiant break-away from English rule. In 1775 it was judged as premature; it did give expression to timeless principles of freedom and liberty which appeared again in the national Declaration of Independence one year later.



This is a short list of americans who were either born in Scotland or who are of Scottish and / or Scots – Irish descent. By just glancing over this impressive list, it is plain to see how each of these individuals has had a tremendous impact on the discovery and development of the United States. The great contributions by the Scots and Scots – Irish cannot be denied.


The American Revolution pitted fellow Scotsmen against one another for numerous reasons. Many of them changed sides numerous times during the war depending who was winning at the time. However, in the end the Scottish people made a significant contribution in winning American Independence.

  • George Washington was commander-in-chief of the American Army during the American Revolution and the first president of the United States of America.
  • Thomas Jefferson, principle author of the Declaration of Independence and 3rd President of the United States.
  • Two patriots of the American Revolution, Patrick Henry, a governor of Virginia, and General Hugh Mercer, a survivor of the battle of Culloden, were of Scottish lineage.
  • The first time the American “Stars and Stripes” flag was recognized by a foreign power (France) was when John Paul Jones, a Scot, raised the flag on his ship, the U.S.S. Ranger. He would later be known as the father of the U. S. Navy.
  • General William Lee Davidson: American patriot general who was killed in the Battle of Cowan’s Ford, Huntersville, NC, Feb. 1, 1781. Davidson College was named in his honor.
  • Major John Davidson, officer in the American militia and signer of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence.
  • General Henry Knox, first Secretary of War of the United States.
  • Light Horse Harry Lee, famous General.
  • Anthony “Mad Anthony” Wayne, a well known patriot general.
  • Our Declaration of Independence was modeled after the Declaration of Arbroath which was signed on April 6, 1320.
  • More than half the signers of the Declaration of Independence were Scottish or of Scottish descent.
  • Major Patrick Ferguson, commander of the British troops at the Battle of Kings Mountain where he was killed in battle. Ferguson invented the breech loading rifle.
  • General Lachlan McIntosh, well respected American general, buried in Savannah, GA.


Thousands of Scots and Ulster Scots, both native born and immigrant, enlisted in both the Confederate and Union armies during America’s most tragic historic period. In this war Scots and Scots-Irish who had been neighbors in their homelands faced off against one another on such battlefields as Gettysburg, Vicksburg, Chancellorsville, Cold Harbor, Fredericksburg, and Chickamauga.

  • Robert E. Lee, A descendant of Scottish immigrants, is one of the most famous of all Confederate officers in the American Civil War. He was the youngest son of Light Horse Harry Lee.
  • Ulysses S. Grant, overall commander of the Union army, and later President of the United States.
  • General Ambrose Burnside, commander of the Army of the Potomac, Union Army.
  • Colonel Elmer Ellsworth was the first officer to be killed in the Civil War while trying to take down a Confederate flag flying over a building in Alexandria, VA. President Lincoln had his body brought to the White House where it lay in state.
  • John Dempster received the Congressional Medal of Honor during the American Civil War. Born in Scotland he served as a Coxswain, on the U.S.S. New Ironsides.
  • Sergeant David Dickie, 97th Illinois, Company A was a recipient of the Medal of Honor at the Battle of Vicksburg, MS. He was born in Scotland.
  • General Jonathon “Stonewall” Jackson, was of Scots-Irish descent, and served in the Confederate army. He was married in Lincolnton, NC just 17 miles west of Rural Hill.
  • General J.E.B. Stuart, was of Scots-Irish descent, and served in the Confederate army.
  • Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America, and Secretary of War for the United States.
  • General Joseph Johnston, Commander of the Confederate Army of Tennessee, was of Scots descent.
  • General John Brown Gordon, famous Confederate general and governor of Georgia, was of Scots descent.


Sergeant Alvin York, marksman from Tennessee, was partially of Ulster Scot ancestry.


  • General Douglas McArthur, commander of the American forces in the Pacific theater of operations.
  • General George S. Patton, five star general known as “Blood and Guts”, a commander of the United States Army, was a descendant of Revolutionary War patriot, General Hugh Mercer on his mother’s side.
  • General George C. Marshall, Army chief of staff during World War II; later, as Secretary of State, developed the Marshall plan which aided European nations in their recovery after the war.


  • A Scot named MacGregor was the navigator on Columbus’ voyage to the New World. •Davy Crockett, explorer and adventurer, representative from Tennessee, and killed at the Battle of the Alamo.
  • Jim Bowie, explorer and adventurer, inventor of the Bowie knife, killed at the Battle of the Alamo
  • Daniel Boone, explorer and adventurer.
  • William Clark, exploration partner of Meriwether Lewis, was of Scottish descent.
  • James Mackay of St. Charles, Louisiana a Scotsman, drew the map that was used by Lewis and Clark on their “Voyage of Discovery”.
  • Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone was born in Edinburgh, Scotland.
  • Samuel Morse, inventor of the telegraph.
  • Andrew Carnegie built his fortune in the steel and railroad industry and was well known for his  donations for building libraries across the United States and in Scotland. He was born in Dunfermline, Scotland.
  • The first time the American flag was raised in outer space was by a Scots-American, Neil Armstrong (who also carried the Armstrong Tartan with him).
  • Thomas Edison, inventor of the first incandescent lighting system in 1879 and motion pictures in 1894, was of Scottish descent through his mother, Mary Elliot.
  • Stanford White along with William Rutherford Mead and Charles McKim formed New York’s McKim, Mead, and White, one of the most influential architectural firms in American history. The firm was responsible for the original Madison Square Garden, Columbia University Library, Pennsylvania Station, the Morgan Library and much more. The Washington Arch on Fifth Avenue in New York City was designed by White. White, perhaps America’s most famous architect, was shot to death in his own Madison Square Garden by Harry K. Thaw, who was jealous over White’s affair with Evelyn Nesbitt.
  • James Naismith, inventor of American Basketball, born in Canada, but of Scottish descent.
  • Donald Douglas, founder of Douglas aircraft.
  • Elizabeth Wiley Corbet – first American female physician.
  • John McIntosh, who discovered the first McIntosh apple tree on his farm in Ontario.


  • Wyatt Earp, well known U.S. Marshall in the West was of Scottish descent.
  • Nine of the Governors of the original thirteen American colonies were of Scottish descent.
  • Nearly one half of the Secretaries of Treasury of the United States were of Scottish descent.
  • One-Third of all the U.S. Secretaries of State were of Scottish descent.
  • Nearly ¾ of our U.S. Presidents are of Scottish descent.
  • President Woodrow Wilson, who was of Scottish descent, once said, “Every line of strength in American history is a line colored with Scottish blood.”
  • Daniel Webster was a U.S. Secretary of State and helped pave the way for the annexation of Hawaii.
  • Sam Houston, helped Texas gain her independence from Mexico, first president of Texas.
  • John Marshall, famous Supreme Court Justice, son of a Scottish minister.
  • Many Nobel Prize winners are of Scottish descent.
  • Thirty-five of the Supreme Court Justices of The United States were of Scottish descent.


  • Arnold Palmer, first professional golfer to win one million dollars, Scots-Irish descent.
  • Robert Brown “Bobby” Thomson, born in Glasgow, and left for the U.S. to play Major League. Baseball. He earned the nickname, “the Staten Island Scot”. He played for 15 seasons playing for the Giants, Braves, Cubs, Red Sox, and Orioles. He retired in 1960. On October 3, 1951, in the third game of a three-game playoff against the Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Giant outfielder Bobby Thomson blasted the dramatic “shot heard ’round the world” when he homered off right-hander Ralph Branca.  After all these years, Thomson’s one-out, three-run homer remains among the most famous home run hits in baseball history.
  • James MacDonald, born in Dundee in 1906, was the voice for Walt Disney’s popular character, Mickey Mouse. He died in 1991.


“I send greetings to all those celebrating tartan day. On this day, we honor the proud heritage and many accomplishments of Scottish Americans. Scotland and the United States are intimately linked through deep historical and cultural ties. For generations, the sons and daughters of Scotland have come to America with a spirit of determination and optimism that has helped shape our Nation’s character and enriched our history. Many noteworthy Americans of Scottish descent have made significant contributions to our country, including inventor Alexander Graham Bell, pioneer Daniel Boone, revolutionary Patrick Henry, and Presidents Andrew Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Ulysses S. Grant. Through hard work, firm values, and strong faith, Scottish Americans have made our country a better place. We are grateful for the role they have played in defending and renewing the ideals we cherish. Laura and I send our best wishes for a memorable Tartan Day.”

(Signed: George W. Bush)

In recognition of the contributions made by the Scots and the Scots-Irish to the development of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners issued a resolution proclaiming April 6 as Tartan Day and April as Scottish Heritage Month in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.

The idea of a special day to honor early Scots and the Scotch-Irish settlers was first conceived in 1988 by the Federation of Scottish Clans in Nova Scotia, Canada. As in the United States, many Scots had come to Canada against their will and had gone on to become exemplary citizens. Many of the other provinces also felt that such a day of recognition was needed and passed Private Member’s Bills or Premier’s Proclamations in support of the resolution. Scots and their descendants were encouraged to wear tartan to their places of work, play or worship in honor of their forbears and in recognition of the hardships they endured.

The date chosen, April 6th, has special significance. It is the anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath, the Scottish Declaration of Independence. In 1320, the Scottish Barons, locked in a struggle with Edward I of England vowed that they would follow Robert the Bruce but, “it is not for riches, or honors, or glory that we fight, but for liberty alone, which no man loses save with his life.” and further more should the Bruce waver they would cast him out and make another king.

It was appropriate that Mecklenburg County also chose this date to recognize its Scottish and Scots-Irish citizens. There are many signs of those early Scottish settlers still found in the metropolitan Charlotte area. The flag of the City of Charlotte is made up of the flag of Scotland, (known as a St. Andrew’s cross) with the City of Charlotte’s seal in the center. Even a brief study of area town and street names becomes a list of Scottish surnames and place names.

In 1981, Michael MacDonald, F.S.T.S designed a Carolinas Tartan for the Scottish Tartan Society. This Carolinas Tartan had been adopted as the official tartan of Rural Hill.


Typically, A PLAIDE is a garment. Historically, it was a length of fabric wrapped around one’s body in lieu of having to carry it. The term PLAID is used to denote fabric of many colors, woven perpendicularly; that is, colors woven in the warp and the weft. It can be random or planned, even or uneven. A TARTAN is woven to a pattern, also called a thread count, and it is designated by a NAME. At one time the Lord Lyon, chief heraldic officer in Scotland, oversaw the registration of individual CLAN tartans. This responsibility, along with registration of all other named Tartans, has been transferred to the Scottish Tartans Authority (STA). The STA maintains the International Tartan Index.

When ordering tartan for a kilt, it can be ordered by name and one knows what he is receiving. There are books for weavers of tartans which include a listing of descriptions of thread counts and colors. One must have an imagination, or know the tartan already. Please remember that TARTANS can be uneven patterns, which are not mirror-imaged. The most well-known one is Stewart Hunting. There are also Malcolm, Buchanan T Campbell of Argyll, Kilgour, Dress MacDonald, MacAlpine, and Maple Leaf. There may be others. There are plaids that are even mirror images or tartan look-alikes, but have not been officially recognized. In the trade these are known as “fashion plaids”.


In terms of the Scottish Clans the word “clan” comes from the Gaelic language which means  “family”. Originally families were comprised of the descendents of one man and his children. Clans consisted of a certain number of families of the same name, claiming a common ancestor, and governed by a descendant of that ancestor. The Clan names which are in use today have been passed down for centuries from the founders of the families of the Picts, the Scots, and the Vikings in the Highlands, as well as the noble families of the Britons, Flemish, Normans, Angles and Saxons in the Lowlands and Borders.

The genealogical family tree has grown horizontally as well as vertically. While the king, queen, or heir apparent of a dynastic family was often married “across the water” to someone of comparable rank, and the heir to a noble title was married across “country” to insure peace or secure property, the other children in the family generally married locally. The surname of the dynastic family spread slowly but surely through intermarriage. Gradually everyone in the region was absorbed.

It is this brotherhood, beyond rank, sex, religion, wealth or poverty, success or failure, that bonds the Scottish people. We are all one great interrelated family. The branches of the tree are the family names, clans, and septs. As a result, many bearers of Scottish names share in the proud rich pageantry and experiences of common ancestry.

Today, the traditions still flourish through Clan Family Societies that are generally formed for educational, literary, historic preservation, and social purposes to further friendships and share the heritage of the clan family. In some cases, larger societies assist in the acquisition and maintenance of former clan homes and territories in Scotland or America.

The Rural Hill Scottish Festival and Loch Norman Highland Games has brought together many clans and related organizations because of this common bond of Scottish heritage. Many lasting friendships have resulted from participation in made throughout the years of this event. There are so many clans, societies, and affiliated organizations which have attended the Loch Norman Highland Games at Rural Hill, but more importantly who have supported this event and our preservation efforts at Rural Hill, and we thank you.


If you are not among this list it is only an oversight on our part and we can certainly add you to the listing. We do request that you share with us the year (s) you have attended the Loch Norman Highland Games or the capacity you have helped support Rural Hill, Inc..


The following list of Clans and Societies is intended to include all those who have attended the Loch Norman Highland Games and/or supported the development of Rural Hill. If your Clan or Society is not listed please share with us the year(s) you have attended the Loch Norman Highland Games or the capacity in which you have supported Rural Hill, Inc.

Clan Donald, USA
Clan MacIntyre Association
Clan Morrison Society of North America
Clan Anderson Society, Ltd.
Armstrong Clan Society
Clan Arthur
House of Baillie, USA
Clan Buchanan Society, International
Clan Cameron of NA, Grandfather Mountain Branch
The Clan Campbell Society of North America
Clan Chattan
Clan Chisholm
Clan Colquhoun Society of North America
Clan Crawford
Clan Cunningham USA
Clan Davidson Society USA
Clan Donnachaidh, Carolinas
Clan Douglas Society of North America
Clan Dunbar
Elliot Clan Society, USA
Clan Ewen Society, USA
Clan Forrester Society
Clan Fraser Society of North America
Clan Galbraith Association
Clan Geddes
House of Gordon
Clan Graham Society
Clan MacLennan
Clan MacLeod Society, USA
Clan MacMillan, Appalachian Branch
Clan Macnachtan Association
Clan Macneil Association of America
Clan Macpherson Association
Clan MacRae Society of North America
Clan MacTavish
Clan MacThomas
The Clan Maxwell Society
Menzies Clan Society of North America
Clan Moffat Society of North America
Clan Montgomery Society International
Clan Morrison Society of North America
Clan Grant
Clan Gregor Society (Scotland) SE Chapter
American Clan Gregor Society
Clan Gunn Society of North America
Clan Guthrie, USA
Clan Hall Society
Clan Hamilton
Clan Hay Society
Clan Henderson Society of the USA
Innes Clan Society
Clan Irwin Association
Clan Keith Society, USA
Kennedy Society of America
Clan Kincaid
Clan Lamont Society of North America
Clan Leslie Society International
Clan Lindsay
Clan Little
American Clan Lockhart Society
House of Lumsden
Clan MacBean in North America
Clan MacCallum/Malcolm Society, USA
Clan MacCord Society
Clan MacDuff
Clan MacFarlane Society
Clan Mackenzie Society America
Clan Mackintosh Society
Clan MacLaren
Clan MacLean International
Clan Munro Association, USA
Clan Pollock
Clan Ramsay Association of North America
Clan Ross Association, US
Clan Scott Society
Scottish District Families Association
Clan Sinclair
Clan Skene Association
Clan Smith
Clan Stewart Society of America
Clan Sutherland Society of North America
Turnbull Clan International
Clan Wallace Society


Charleston Usquebae Society, Charleston, SC
Charleston Scottish Games, Mount Pleasant, SC   
Montreat Scottish Society, Montreat, NC
Robert Burns Society of the Midlands, Columbia, SC
Scottish Cultural Organization of the Triangle, Cary, NC
Scottish Foundation of the Virginia Highlands
Scottish Society of the Waxhaws, Waxhaw, NC
St. Andrew’s Society of North Carolina, Southern Pines, NC
Scottish Heritage USA, Pineville, NC
Greenville Scottish Games, Greenville, SC
Mint Hill Scottish Games, Mint Hill, NC
Tartan Museum, Franklin, NC
Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, Linville, NC
Triad Highland Games, Greensboro,NC
Bethabara Park Highland Games, Winston Salem,NC


Olde Mecklenburg Genealogical Society
Hopewell Branch, Olde Mecklenburg Genealogical Society
Ellen Payne Odom Genealogy Library, Moultrie, GA


S.A.M.S. (Scottish American Military Society) Post #1775
78th Fraser’s Highlanders Regiment of Foot, 2nd Battalion America
North Carolina Highland Regiment
American Long Rifle Association
The Catawba Militia
The Fishing Creek Refugees


There are numerous resources to begin your search for your ancestry. The obvious might be your hometown library if that is where your family roots begin. If not, begin your way back with your parents, then grandparents, and so on.

Another great way to get started on discovering your family tree is coming to the Rural Hill Scottish Festival and Loch Norman Highland Games where there are at least 100 different clans, societies, and family organizations which may be able to help you get started or help you complete a link which may have you stumped.



Address to a Haggis
by Robert Burns, 1786

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin’ race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:            
Weel are ye wordy of a grace
As lang’s my arm.The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o need,
While thro your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An cut you up wi ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm – reekin, rich!Then, horn for horn, they stretch an strive:
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
The auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
‘Bethankit’ hums.
Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi perfect sconner,
Looks down wi sneering, scornfu view
On sic a dinner?Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit:
Thro bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his walie nieve a blade.
He’ll make it whissle;
An legs an arms, an heads will sned,
Like taps o thrissle.Ye Pow`rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies:
But, If ye wish her gratefu prayer,
Gie her a Haggis!

It is a shame that the “Address to a Haggis” should be regarded (by some) with such a mixture of horror and humour. The vision of sheep’s stomachs and other intestines seems to put some people off, but it has long been a traditional way of using up parts of the animal which otherwise might go to waste. Made properly, it is a tasty, wholesome dish, with every chef creating his or her own recipe to get the flavour and texture (dry or moist) that suits them. Many like haggis which is spicy from pepper and herbs, with a lingering flavour on the palate after it has been consumed.

Finding a butcher who can supply sheep’s heart, lungs and liver may not be easy although today beef bung (intestine) is used instead of sheep’s stomach. Since this is used also to make European sausage, they are out there for other nationalities as well.  If this is still hard to come by, these days haggis can even be ordered online.

•Set of sheep’s heart, lungs and liver (cleaned by a butcher)
•One beef bung
•3 cups finely chopped suet
•One cup medium ground oatmeal
•Two medium onions, finely chopped
•One cup beef stock
•One teaspoon salt
•½ teaspoon pepper
•One teaspoon nutmeg
•½ teaspoon mace

Trim off any excess fat and sinew from the sheep’s intestine and, if present, discard the windpipe. Place in a large pan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for an hour or possibly longer to ensure that they are all tender. Drain and cool.

Some chefs toast the oatmeal in an oven until it is thoroughly dried out (but not browned or burnt!)

Finely chop the meat and combine in a large bowl with the suet, oatmeal, finely chopped onions, beef stock, salt, pepper, nutmeg and mace. Make sure the ingredients are mixed well. Stuff the meat and spices mixture into the beef bung which should be over half full. Then press out the air and tie the open ends tightly with string. Make sure that you leave room for the mixture to expand or else it may burst while cooking. If it looks as though it may do that, prick with a sharp needle to reduce the pressure.

Place in a pot and cover with water. Bring to the boil and immediately reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for three hours. Avoid boiling vigorously to avoid bursting the skin.

Serve hot with “champit tatties and bashit neeps” (mashed/creamed potato and turnip/swede). For added flavour, you can add some nutmeg to the potatoes and allspice to the turnip/swede. Some people like to pour a little whisky over their haggis – Drambuie is even better! Don’t go overboard on this or you’ll make the haggis cold.

At Burns’ Suppers, the haggis is traditionally piped in and Burns’ “Address to the Haggis” is recited over the meal.


1lb sausage meat
5 hard boiled eggs, with shells removed
1 large raw egg
3oz approx of dry breadcrumbs
Pinch of mace, salt, freshly ground pepper
Small quantity of flour
1 tablespoon water

Dust the hard boiled eggs in a little flour. Mix the mace, salt and pepper with the sausage meat and divide into five equal portions. Place on a floured surface. Wrap/mould the sausage meat round the egg, making sure there are no gaps. Beat the egg and water together and coat the meat-covered egg with this and then breadcrumbs (you may have to press the crumbs onto the meat). Deep fry in hot oil (360F/185C)17 taking care as you put the eggs into the oil. Cook for about 5/6 minutes. If you don’t have a deep fat fryer, they can be cooked in oil in a frying pan, turning frequently to ensure the meat is fully cooked.
Drain and serve hot or allow to cool and keep in a refrigerator for a cold snack later. 


This is a traditional recipe for a treat which is often eaten at the end of the year at Hogmanay (Scottish New Year’s). But it needs to be made several weeks in advance so that it can mature. Indeed, it can be kept for up to six months if kept in an airtight container. Don’t be put off by the formidable list of ingredients. It is relatively easy to make and every cook has his or her own variations on the ingredients.

Ingredients for Pastry Case:

•12 oz plain flour (3 cups)
•3 oz lard (6 tablespoons)
•3 oz butter or margarine (6 tablespoons)
(Note that if you don’t want to use lard, increase the butter/margarine by an equivalent amount)
•Pinch of salt
•Half teaspoon baking powder
•Cold water
Ingredients for Filling:
•1 lb seedless raisins (2¾ cups)
•1 lb cleaned currants (2¾ cups
•2 oz chopped, blanched almonds (Third of a cup)
•2 oz chopped mixed peel (¼ cup)
• 6 oz plain flour (1½ cups)
•3 oz soft brown sugar (Third of a cup)
•One level teaspoon ground allspice
•Half level teaspoon each of ground ginger, ground cinnamon, baking powder
•Generous pinch of black pepper
•One tablespoon brandy
•One large, beaten egg
•Milk to moisten

Grease an 8-inch loaf tin. Rub the fats into the flour and salt and then mix in enough cold water to make a stiff dough (remember, it is going to line the tin). Roll out the pastry and cut into six pieces, using the bottom, top and four sides of the tin as a rough guide. Press the bottom and four side pieces into the tin, pressing the overlaps to seal the pastry shell.
Mix the raisins, currants, almonds, peel and sugar together. Sift in the flour, all the spices and baking powder and bind them together using the brandy and almost all the egg and add enough milk to moisten.

Pack the filling into the lined tin and add the pastry lid, pinching the edges and using milk or egg to seal really well. Lightly prick the surface with a fork and make four holes to the bottom of the tin with a skewer. Depress the centre slightly (it will rise as it cooks).

Brush the top with milk or the rest of the egg to create a glaze.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 325F/160C/Gas Mark 3 for 2½ to 3 hours. Test with a skewer which should come out clean; if not, continue cooking. An uncooked cake sizzles if you listen closely!
Cool in the tin and then turn onto a wire rack. Cool thoroughly before storing until Hogmanay.


Large numbers of Scotch Pies are sold in Scotland every day – they are an original “fast food” and are often sold at the half-time interval at football (soccer) matches. The pies are made in special straight-sided moulds, roughly 3-3½ inches (7.5-8.5cm) in diameter and about 1½ inches (4cm) deep. A pastry lid, inside the pie, covers the meat about ½ inch (1cm) below the rim. This leaves a space at the top of the pie which can be filled, if required – with hot gravy, baked beans, mashed (creamed) potatoes etc. The meat is usually mutton (sometimes of varying quality). Many bakers have their own recipes and add spices to give additional flavour – there is now an annual competition for the best pie.

The quantities below should make roughly 8/10 pies.
Ingredients for the Meat Filling:
•1 pound (500g or two cups) lean lamb, minced (ground)
•Pinch of mace or nutmeg
•Salt and pepper
•Quarter pint (150ml) gravy
•Ingredients for the Hot Water Pastry:
•1 pound (500g or four cups) plain flour
•6 ounces (175g or ¾ cup) lard
•6 fluid ounces (225ml or ¾ cup) approximately of water
•Pinch of salt
•Milk for glazing
•You will also need glasses or jars, approximately 3-3½ inches (7.5-8.5cm) in diameter to shape the pie.

Create the filling by mixing the minced (ground) lamb, spice and seasoning.

Make the pastry by sifting the flour and salt into a warm bowl. Make a well in the centre of the flour. Melt the lard in a scant measure of water and, when it is bubbling, add to the flour and mix thoroughly. Take a small amount (remember the mixture should make 8/10 pies, with their tops) and form into a ball and keep the rest warm while making each pastry case. This is done by rolling a suitable amount for each pie and shaping the crust round the base of a glass or jar approximately 3-3½ inches (7.5-8.5cm) in diameter. Make sure there are no cracks in the pastry – you can trim round the top of the case to make it even. As the pastry cools and gets cool, remove the glass and continue until you have about a quarter of the pastry left to make the lids.

Fill the cases with the meat and add the gravy to make the meat moist.

Roll the remaining pastry and use the glass to cut the lids. Wet the edges of the lids, place over the meat and press down lightly over the filling. Pinch the edges and trim. Cut a small hole or vent in the centre of the lid (to allow the steam to escape).

Glaze with milk and bake for about 45 minutes at 275F/140C/Gas mark 1. If the pies are not eaten immediately, they can be stored in the ‘fridge but always ensure they are properly reheated before being eaten.


There are a number of special regional rolls (such as the Aberdeen morning rolls or “Rowies”) but this a recipe for plain white bread rolls. The finished rolls should be light and airy.

Ingredients (makes 16 rolls):
• 500g/1lb plain white flour
•2 teaspoons salt
•275ml/10oz warm water
•2 teaspoons dried yeast
•2 teaspoons brown sugar
•2 teaspoons vegetable oil

Dissolve the yeast and sugar into about half the quantity of warm water in a jug and leave in a warm place with a cloth over the top. The yeast will begin to froth in about ten minutes. The flour should be in a large bowl with the salt added and mixed. The flour should preferably be slightly warm too.

Pour the yeast mixture into the flour and knead, either by hand or with a mixer with a dough hook. Add more water to make the texture so that it does not stick to your hands but is moist. Once it is well kneaded, form it into a ball, cover the bowl with a cloth and leave in a warm place. When the mixture has risen to about double its original size, knead it again until it has returned to its original volume.

The dough can then be divided into 16 and formed into individual balls. Pull the dough from the top to the bottom so that the top looks smooth. Place on lightly oiled oven trays, leaving space between each one, and cover with a cloth. Leave the rolls to rise again in a warm place, for about 30 minutes. Finally, bake in a hot oven, 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 for about 20 minutes, until brown on top – some people prefer their rolls “lightly fired” while others prefer to bake them for longer and have a more burnt surface.


Oatmeal was once described as “the backbone of many a sturdy Scotsman”. Porridge was one of the main ways of eating oats, in days gone by. There is a lot of mystique about making porridge and many traditions associated with cooking and eating it. The important thing is to obtain good quality medium-ground oats (rather than rolled oats) and to keep stirring it to avoid solid lumps.

Ingredients (sufficient for two people):
•One pint (half litre) water; some people use half water and half milk
•2.5 ounces (2.5 rounded tablespoons) medium-ground oats
•Pinch of salt

Bring the water (or water and milk) to a good rolling boil, preferably in a non-stick pan. Slowly pour the oatmeal into the boiling liquid, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon all the time. Keep stirring until it has returned to the boil again, reduce the heat, cover the pan and simmer very gently for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the salt at this point and simmer and stir for a further 5/10 minutes (time depends on the quality of the oats). It should be a thick but pour able consistency. Serve hot in wooden bowls if you have them.

Stirring the porridge should always be clockwise.
Porridge used to be served with separate bowls of double cream. A spoonful of porridge (in a horn spoon) was dipped into a communal bowl of cream before eating.
Porridge is eaten standing up. While some people have suggested that this is out of respect for the noble dish, it probably arose from busy farmers doing other things while eating their morning porridge – or as an aid to digestion.
While some people frown at the idea of sugar on porridge others not only approve but suggest a tot of whisky. Each to their own!
Porridge used to be poured into a “porridge drawer” and, once it had cooled, it could be cut up into slices. These were easier to carry than brittle oatcakes.