Many people are of the opinion that the small, elusive mammal, the humble Haggis is indigenous to Scotland and is found nowhere else in the world. Tacitus, the first century Roman historian and son in law of Agricola, the great Governor of Roman Britain, speaks of the Hibernians paying an annual tribute of 1,000 Haggisae- ‘ a delicacy much favoured by the native tribes in the north of the country. It was said that the Hibernians ate their Haggisae to combat the extreme cold in their winters, the heat generated by the digestion of the Haggis was thought to descend to the knees, thus warming the lower limbs and parts.”
Tacitus reports that the native Druids used Haggis in their magical ceremonies. Vespasian, the Roman General, later Emperor, who drove the druids back into their base on the Isle of Mona (now Anglesey) speaks of their being used by the Druids as a defensive weapon in the final assault on Mona… ‘ They soaked their prepared Haggisae in a potent native brew known as Whiskorium Tintinnabulae, then eating vast quantities which acted to enflame both their stomachs and their martial passions, they achieved a wild, intoxicated frenzy- at which point they set fire to hundreds of them and launched them by Catapults to soar flaming through the night sky and fall into our boats. There they exploded with such destructive force that many were sunk and upwards of two whole centuries of legionnaires were dragged down by their armour and drowned.. The night reverberated with the howls of the druids and the cries of the drowning centuries, all lit by a fierce moon and the curving blue flames of falling, blazing, Haggisae.’
It is said that the great Roman gourmet and epicurean, Lucullus ,when he wished to produce a dish of true perfection served Haggis, soaked in the finest aged Valerian wine, the Haggisae imported at great cost from that far away misty isle.
A commentator reports: “So sublime was this dish that at one dinner 15 of Lucullus’ guests fainted instantly after but one mouthful and 12 of them expired completely, overcome by ecstasy, much to the embarrassment of Lucullus who was accused of mass manslaughter and had to flee Rome for some months.
Recent archaeology, however, has indicated that the Haggis was not in fact native to Scotland. DNA tests on Haggis recently found preserved at the bottom of ancient middens excavated on the Isle of Mull show that the origin of these Haggis was in fact a small village above a Fiord in Denmark. Further tests and geological discoveries now show that in pre-history Denmark was joined to Scotland by a narrow causeway or sunken land bridge starting exactly beneath the village of Torsmunde on the coast and sloping at an extremely sharp angle all the way to what is now Arbroath in Scotland.. There are preserved oral accounts of an annual festival in the village where the young men rolled their Haggisolurm Haggisolara down the steeply sloped main street. The first villager whose haggis plunged over the cliff was made First Lad of the town, known as the Hagisleider or Haggis Leader, a position which gave him great favour with all the young women for a whole year in the surrounding countryside. Clearly this was a great attraction to the young men of the village and also to not a few of the young maidens.
Archaeologists now believe that It is virtually certain that those Haggis which plunged over the cliff above the North Sea in the dawn of history actually continued to roll down the partially submerged land bridge all the way to Arbroath in Scotland, where they were fished out of the sea by native fishermen and were either adopted as household pets and mascots, or became the first Arbroath Smokies, a smoked delicacy exported even as far as Cornwall, bringing fame and fortune to the town of Arbroath. A number of Haggises eventually escaped and their descendants populated the whole country, much as the rabbits in Australia, or was it NewZealand?
Encoded in their genes were two traits which helped them survive the mass Haggis Hunts which occurred in the country from time to time. One was the habitation of high places which allowed them to roll rapidly away at the first hint of danger. The other was an insatiable love of beans.
Ministry of Defence Documents recently released under the fifty year rule show that many reported sightings of flying saucers in the fifties and sixties were in actual fact flying haggises. The Haggis’s love of beans as a staple allowed it to escape by a vigorous means of self propulsion when no hills were available, hurling it high into the air and away. This became a particularly ingrained habit in the lowland haggis which had no hills to retreat to, many of whom became addicted to this means of escape as a method of recreational travel. Air force reports document numerous examples of the lowland haggis, once having been launched by its own inbuilt escape mechanism, being able to glide for many miles at low altitude. It was these gliding lowland haggises which gave rise to many sightings of flying saucers and also inspired the development of the first jet engines and the first hover planes.
Because of these two genetically coded traits passed down from generation to generation the Haggis is now notoriously difficult to hunt and the wild Haggis is still much sought after for its flavour and its texture. For the true Scot, farmed Haggis is a pallid, flavourless dish- one definitely to be exported for the uneducated palate of the English and other races….for the Scot only the native wild Haggis will do.
Amongst the native hunters of the Wild Haggis a closely guarded text has been passed down from generation to generation. Transmitted orally in the language of the ancient bards and then written down some ten centuries ago and handed to the first born son in each generation, it has recently been translated by Professor Guy Gaishg of the Department of Random Studies, Oxford University and we have been privileged to obtain a copy as a contribution to tonight’s celebration.
HUNTING THE HAGGIS
When hunting the Haggis it’s useful to know
That the Haggis when hunted keeps very low,
It runs really fast with its ear to the ground
And jumps up a tree at the very first sound……
And there it will stay disguised as a bird,
Emitting strange sounds which seldom are heard
By rabbit, by man, by sheep or by beastie-
It’s the sound of the haggis avoiding the feastie.
Some times it thinks it even can fly
And launches itself out into the sky.
That is the time when you really must heed,
For if it falls on your head..
you’ll be very soon deid.
Oh the Haggis they say is the hardest to hunt,
Will evade you by car, by plane or by punt.
At the sound of a hunter it’s off in a trike
And has even been known to escape on a bike.
But if you’re hunting the Haggis do not be afrit,
Just go out and buy Barbour’s Haggis Hunt kit.
Yes this will equip you with all that’s required
to hunt down the Haggis until it’s expired.
For I tell you my friend, it’s not just a rumour-
But the Haggis you know is laid low by humour.
It’s a sucker for slapstick and loves Benny Hill,
Of Morecambe & Wise it can’t get its fill.
So put on the kilt with fake hairy knees,
The squeezeable sporran that gives out a wheeze
And place on your hair the ree-volving hat,
With a box on the top for the pet family cat.
false nose run by battery that swivels around
Is often quite useful, or so I have found
with a light bulb shoved up to give out a spark
And make it glow red when you’re out in the dark
Then with sombre demeanour take to the Moors,
Start hunting the Haggis and give it no pause.
Through a megaphone loud you can shout it a joke
And at this if you’re lucky the Haggis will choke.
But as soon as it sees you this kit shows its worth
For the poor wee Haggis will be con vulsed with mirth.
Yes that’s how the Haggis arrived on your plate,
Hunted by humour was this Haggis’s fate.
That’s how the Haggis arrived at your feastie-
A surfeit of laughter killed off this beastie.
So eat up your Haggis and have lots of fun,
but watch out for laughter as it sinks to your tum.
Remember where excess of humour can lead-
Just look at this Haggis – it laughed till it deid.