Page last updated at 13:23 GMT, Monday, 3 August 2009 14:23 UK

Haggis is English, historian says

Haggis, neeps and tatties
Catherine Brown says the first Scottish references to haggis came in 1747

A haggis recipe was published in an English book almost two hundred years before any evidence of the dish in Scotland, a historian has claimed.

Historian Catherine Brown said she found references to the dish inside a 1615 book called The English Hus-Wife.

The title would pre-date Robert Burns' poem To A Haggis, which brought fame to the delicacy, by at least 171 years.

But former world champion haggis maker Robert Patrick insisted: "Nobody's going to believe it."

'Popular in England'

Ms Brown said the book by Gervase Markham indicated haggis was first eaten in England and subsequently popularised by the Scots.

The first mention she could find of Scottish haggis was in 1747.

Anything that's to do with Scotland, everybody wants to get a part of
Robert Patrick
Haggis maker

Ms Brown told the BBC the author made it quite clear haggis was enjoyed by everyone, not just Scots.

She said: "It was popular in England until the middle of the 18th Century. Whatever happened in that period, the English decided they didn't like it and the Scots decided they did.

"We had Robert Burns come along who saw in it a very practical dish using up the odds and ends and making something good out of them.

"Obviously the English turned up their noses at it and ate their roast beef, and the Scots for 350 years have been making it their own."

Her findings are due to be broadcast in a documentary on STV in Scotland.

'Scottish product'

Mr Patrick said the idea haggis originated in England was akin to claims by the Dutch and Chinese to have invented golf.

He added: "Anything that's to do with Scotland, everybody wants to get a part of.


"We've nurtured the thing for all these years, we've developed it, so I think very much it is a Scottish product.

"It's one of the mainstays of my business's economy so we'd never give it up."

James Macsween, whose Edinburgh-based company makes haggis, said it would remain a Scottish icon whatever its origin.

He said even if the haggis was eaten in England long before Burns made it famous, Scotland had done a better job of looking after it.

And he added: "I didn't hear of Shakespeare writing a poem about it."

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