IT is by far and away one of Scotland’s global icons, tucked into merrily at this time of year as Robert Burns is celebrated all over the world, as well as on home shores. But a wild claim has re-emerged that haggis is not Scottish at all.


Surely not!

A historic Northumberland butchers and food hall, Turnbull's Northumbrian Food, established in Alnwick in 1880, has reignited debate on the origins of the famous dish, making a bold claim.


Go on…

In an admittedly fun-filled tweet this week, they said: “Did you know Haggis is actually Northumbrian? The natives of Scotland won’t accept it, but we all know that Haggis definitely originated in the kingdom of Northumbria, which used to stretch from Edinburgh right down to Humber as far back as 700AD where the dish originated.”


Haggis is pretty hardcore?

The national dish of Scotland is comprised of the liver, heart, and lungs of a sheep, minced and mixed up with beef or mutton suet and oatmeal and seasoned with onion, cayenne pepper and other spices. The mixture is packed into a sheep’s stomach and boiled.


At this time of year?

It flies off the butchers’ shelves as the country - and ex-pats worldwide - gear up to mark Burns Night on January 25, in honour of Robert Burns’ birthdate. At Burns Suppers the world over, “Address to a Haggis” is recited, a poem written by the Bard to celebrate his appreciation of the haggis, that has led to an enduring connection between Burns and the dish. At the traditional suppers, as the haggis is piped to the table, the poem is then recited before being theatrically cut with a ceremonial knife.


Burns says…?

“Good luck to you and your honest, plump face, Great chieftain of the sausage race! Above them all you take your place, Stomach, tripe, or intestines; Well are you worthy of a grace as long as my arm.”


And now a question mark lies over its Scottishness?

To be fair, the origins of haggis are largely shrouded in mystery. Since the mid-18th century, it has been regarded as Scottish, linked to the days when cattle drovers would drive their beasts to market in Edinburgh. But then there are those who claim it as a French dish too with, “hag” similar to the French verb hacher, meaning “to chop” or “mince”. The late Two Fat Ladies chef, Clarissa Dickson-Wright claimed it “came to Scotland in a longship [from Scandinavia] even before Scotland was a single nation”.


England stakes a claim?

The history books do record it was long popular in England. As an example, leading food historian author, Peter Brears, has claimed that it originated in the north-east of England, and describes it as a “fine English dish” which was made throughout the country from as early as the 15th century.



Northumberland is staking its claim, although Turnbull’s were graceful, later tweeting: “The true claim to Haggis is up for debate. We’re just having a little fun with our neighbours ahead of Burn’s Night – whether you’re north or south of the border the one thing we can agree on is that Haggis is a fantastic dish and if you’ve never tried it you’re missing out!”