Traditional Diets in the Scottish Highlands.

“Men bred in the rough bounds” while their clothing culture and arms were considered distinct from mainstream European culture, the physicality of the highlanders was also remarked upon by contemporaries. The following is a general view. Much changed over the centuries in Agriculture and culture but is factual in general. Changes in climate (especially severe in the 16th-17th centuries) will also have affected practices. The Highlands while not entirely homogeneous can be characterised as rough mountains with unpredictable weather (to say the least) and a land not particularly suitable to arable farming. Pastoralism and fishing were the mainstays of the culture though wherever possible crops were grown. Lazy beds, that is fields made from sea weed were also used to increase crop land.  Cattle, sheep chickens and goats were the domesticated animals of choice Highland cattle are still famous for the quality of their meat and at the time were famous for their marbling. I have read contradictory things about deer in Scotland, both that deer were hunted exclusively by the clan elite and conversely that they were free to be hunted by all men. I suspect the former to be true as my sources for this are older and it makes more sense in a feudal system. Whether this protection would extend to the smaller Roe deer (it didn’t in England) or other smaller game I can’t say. Poaching and gamekeeping are attested to in period sources Martin Martin states that deer “licenses” had to be applied for on … read more....

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