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To most of the world the word haggis is synonymous with Scotland - and Burns Suppers in particular - and it's been so since Burns penned his immortal Address To A Haggis.


But, in spite of this tradition of Scottishness, there are many - noted food writer Clarissa Dickson Wright included - who think haggis has Scandinavian origin and linguistically there is some evidence (the hag part is certainly Scandinavian). She feels its emergence into Scotland may have come over the North Sea with the raiding voyages of the Norsemen. See her book The Haggis - A Little History for more fascinating haggis lore.

However, whatever its origins, the humble haggis was merely a staple part of a Scotsman's diet until Rabbie Burns celebrated it in mock heroic verse and Meg Dods gave it a starring role in The Cook's and Housewife's Manual in 1826.

Mistress Dods was the landlady of the Cleikum Inn near Peebles which hosted the gatherings of the Cleikum Club. The aim of the club, which counted Sir Walter Scott among its members, was to celebrate our National Literature. They certainly were among the first organisations to celebrate a Burns' Night.

Now, of course, Burns fans the world over commemorate the Bard's birthday with their own dinners. And one thing that has stood the test of time and still plays its central part is the haggis.

However, many people bypass the determination needed to create the dish at home and head for the ready-made variety.

Plenty of local butchers make their own special recipes but to many Scots the world over haggis means Macsween of Edinburgh. This family firm have taken haggis-making to new heights - along the way making a 52lb giant, a highly successful vegetarian version and conquering top food halls like Harrods and Fortnum & Mason.

You can take a look behind the scenes at Macsween with our special feature..







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