The collective noun for Haggis is a Pudding of Haggis. The wild Haggis is a native of the Scottish moors. The animals are solitary, shy and extremely rare, having been hunted close to extinction from their natural grounds by peasants eager to supplement their meagre fare of turnip and swede.
There are tales of a time when the moors were thick with Haggis, their silvery brown fur shimmering like moonlit water. Scottish cultural mythology heaps great praise on the Haggis as a protector of the Scottish Warrior. One such tale regales the triumph of the Haggis in the Battle of Brigadoon.
The fort of Brigadoon sat on the border of England and Scotland. This was a strategically important crossing point for traders to the wilds of the North. The English wanted to take back control, and hatched a dastardly plan to do so. A small group of Redcoats crept up to the fort with cages stuffed full of feral cats. They placed the crates inside the fort and released the cats.
Within the fort there were 120 Scots Warriors, each wearing the kilt and Sporran, and nothing beneath. Some were on guard, but most were sleeping. The cats were attracted to the swishing fur of the guards’ Sporran, thinking this might be a toy. Others stepped amongst the slumbering Scots, stalking the Sporran as prey. The cats leapt at their prey with claws and teeth, striking for what they thought to be the fleshy neck of the beast. Claws latched on to the Scottish crown jewels, and teeth bit down. The blood-curdling screams of the Scots tore through the night as the Scots struggled in vain to extract the wild cats from beneath their kilts. The English soldiers, skulking outside, clutched their groins in a protective reflex.
The Scotsmen fled the fort, many with cats still clinging to their next meal. As the Scots reached the lowland moors surrounding the fort, there before them was a sea of Haggis. The Haggis stood on hind legs and bellowed. The natural cry of the Haggis is extremely high-pitched, almost inaudible to humans, but to a cat, the sound is akin to running water. As one, the cats dropped from their pendulous perches and fled back to the English side. By then, of course, the English had occupied the fort and sprinkled catnip around the walls to placate the marauding felines. And so ended yet another defeat for the Scots at the hands of the conniving English. And the Haggis? The now homeless Scots plucked up the nearest of their rescuers and boiled them up for a feast to stave of the cold summer night of a Scottish moor.
Robbie Burns actually praised the Haggis of Brigadoon in his first draft of ‘Address to a Haggis’, but he found his audience too sensitive to his graphic descriptions of cats attacking Scottish manhood. So instead, he wrote in celebration of the Feast of Brigadoon, when the vanquished Scots feasted on their rescuers, the Chieftans of the Pudding Race.
Here’s your H – AtoZ challenge continues !