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One of my son’s favorite books at the moment is the Book of General Ignorance. In today’s lesson, he informs me that none of kilts, bagpipes, haggis, porridge, whisky and tartan that we so readily identify as authentically Scottish actually emanates from Scotland.

While kilts seem to have been invented by the Irish (who are closely related to the Scots, as a Celtic tribe from Ireland were the first settlers in what is now Scotland), the term is Danish. Bagpipes? Central Asia – and likely carried to Europe by the Romans. Haggis? Greek. Oak porridge? Found in bog bodies of 5,000 year old neolithic northern Europeans. Whisky? As with most awesome stuff … China. Tartans? Largely made up in 19th century, at least insofar as its relevance to clans.


One Response to “Things That are (Not) Scottish”

  1. Trapper_John says:

    Wintercow–thanks for the recent spate of thoughtful posts. This one is timely as I engage with a colleague here at Duke around the topic of cultural appropriation. As the Scots have clearly violated the intellectual property rights of so many cultures (if only those were more marginalized cultures…) surely we must ask them to stop wearing kilts, playing the pipes, and serving haggis (well, maybe the haggis, but for other reasons).

    Scotland endures though, as “playing outlawed tunes on outlawed pipes” is their way.

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