The Wild Haggis
The Wild Haggis is a small, wiry-haired creature, most noted for it's survival instincts in the Scottish Wilderness. Throughout the centuries, this fascinating creature has evolved to ensure it can travel along the steep mountainous landscape, through one side of it's body having longer legs than the other. If the shorter legs were not to remain on the inner side of the mountain, the Haggis would have the unfortunate experience of tumbling down the hillside and causing great damage to itself. This means that the Haggis can only travel through the mountains with ease in one direction - clockwise or anti-clockwise.
Haggis - A History
Thought to be the original native Haggis species that all other Haggis descend from, the Hebridean Haggis was much smaller and hardier than the mainland varieties. It formed a significant part of the staple diet for the ancient Scots.
These days, it is believed that the current Wild Haggis is descended from the Feral Haggis. Before the highland clearances, farmers and crofters owned domesticated Haggis, however these poor creatures were sadly abandoned when the families and farmers were forced to leave their lands during the 18 th and 19th centuries.
In competition with the large sheep population at the time, the Haggis faced the very real possibility of extinction. A sheep were introduced to the lands as a means of a more sustainable agriculture venture, they needed a constant supply of local heather and peaty burns. As the Haggis' sensitivity to water PH levels are so severe, not many of the pet Haggis survived the travels from their native mountainsides.
The Haggis Today...
These days a large number of Wild Haggis still roam the moors of the Western Isles. Despite the Isles of Lewis and Harris having a strict Sabbatarian tradition, the Hebridean Haggis Hunt is one of the few events that can still be observed today. Taking place every Sunday, the hunt sees locals travel across all the islands, including Lewis and Harris, in search of a Wild Haggis.
Unlike it's relative on the mainland, the Lewis Haggis is fortunate enough to have legs that are all the same length. This gives the creatures an advantage over their relatives on neighboring islands, in escaping the hunts, which are traditional community events.
At dusk, young men in the villages go out on to the moors to form a wide semi-circle while the elders cover peat creels with heather and turf. The young men act as 'beaters' and drive the haggis towards the traps.
In a panic, the Haggis see the elders and search for places to hide. Mistaking the creels for shelter and burrows, they are caught.
Traditionally the Haggis would then be dispatched, skinned and soaked in brine for a couple of days so that they become tender and ready to cook. The skin of the Haggis would be used as a sporran.
(* Note that the plural of haggis is haggis)