The Haggis and family
The Haggis (Eruptus Jovalus Scotia) belongs to the family of mammals which contain the Tattieboagle (Eruptus Humerus Scotia) in the area of the Highlands of Scotland. The Haggii are renowned in the
Highlands as being swift of foot and cunning in its ability to hide in the heather. The thick, but short fur coat is of a dark colour ranging from black to dark tan. It can grow up to a foot in length when it has reached maturity at five years of age. The female, which is slightly smaller in size, can produce one litter of up to four cubs per year. The male often leaves the lair to go hunting and can return up to three days later with its catch which it regurgitates to feed the female during brooding.
The Haggis used to roam the mountains of
in greater numbers than it does now. With the advent of grouse shooting in the 1880’s, the local landowners had their gillies burn down the heather to allow the young grouse to feed on the newly sprung shoots of the heather. This caused a dramatic decline in the numbers of the Haggii due to their shelter being destroyed. This allowed the birds of prey to feast heavily upon them until they reached the edge of extinction. It wasn’t until a bill was passed through Parliament in 1923 which forced the landowners to leave tracts of land free from burning that the numbers of Haggii began, once again, to grow. Scotland
The Haggis was rarely taken by the local population as a source of food due to the abundance of larger livestock and improving arable farming. However, in times of need the Haggis was taken when the local population required the extra sustenance, but the common rabbit was the preferred choice, as its meat is sweeter.
The hunting of the Haggis began to take on importance after the Jacobite rebellion in 1745 when the Duke of Cumberland forbade the carrying of arms in the
Highlands. The hunting of larger beasts had to be curtailed as there was not the weaponary to hunt it. The local gentry started to breed dogs to hunt the Haggis and the descendants of these dogs are the Scots terriers. When the small beast was caught the populace took great pride in the kill and up sprung a ceremony, which to this day is celebrated as Burns Night.
Some folk in the
Highlands swear that there is a separate species of Haggii that can fly. This can be refuted without fear of contradiction as the tales of the flying Haggis can be related back to the late 1880’s when it first appeared in an article in the Inverness Times. What the witnesses really saw was the dropping of the Haggis by birds of prey, for whatever reason, from a great height and therefore jumped to the conclusion that they could fly.
Dr. James MacDonald Mpcs. Kbe. Cdm