BURNS Night celebrations may never be the same again after a TV chef yesterday claimed that haggis is not Scottish - it was invented by the Vikings.

BBC's Two Fat Ladies star Clarissa Dickson Wright claims in a new book that haggis originally came from ancient Scandinavia.

Marauding Norsemen left behind the recipe for our future national dish as they plundered the Scottish coastline during the ninth century, according to new research in The Haggis: A Little Story.

Miss Dickson Wright said: ``Haggis isn't Scottish, it came from the Vikings. The only reason haggis is associated the world over with Scotland is because of Robert Burns.''

Burns popularised the traditional sheep's gut filled with offal, oats and blood in To a Haggis, written in 1786, but until then the dish was common throughout England as well.

The book, published today, shows evidence of a haggis-like dish described by the Ancient Greek writer Aristophanes in about 400BC and a recipe for a pig haggis from the medieval English king, Richard II's reign, in 1390.

Miss Dickson Wright claimed language experts back up her theory that the word haggis derives from the Scandinavian words hoggva and haggw, meaning to hew and that Swedes have enjoyed a similar dish called Polsa for centuries.

``Polsa is very like haggis only it is made with smoked beef instead of mutton. But, whenever Scandinavian visitors see a haggis there is a flash of recognition. It is such an obvious food to cook. It stores well and travels well. It is not surprising that other nations cooked it as well. Burns made all the difference.''

Award-winning butcher Michael Dorward, from Alyth in Fife, defended haggis's place in Scottish culture claiming it was ``as Scottish as whisky and tartan''.

``If you go back far enough, you could probably claim that half the people who call themselves Scots originally came from Scandinavia, but they still consider themselves Scottish.

``Some people claim that the first whisky stills were built in Ireland and yet whisky calling itself Scotch can only legally be made in Scotland under European law.''