Competition! Design the Haggis beast that roams Scotland

haggis_.jpg Photo: Roland Tanglao. According to a survey in the UK, one in five Britons believes that haggis, a traditional Scottish meal made from all the sheep bits the English didn't steal, is in fact "an animal that roams the highlands." From Reuters:
Another 15 percent said it is a Scottish musical instrument while 4 percent admitted to thinking it was a character from Harry Potter.
The only appropriate response to this discovery is to host a competition whereby you illustrate the Haggis beast and win a Droid Eris or another gadget of similar value. Three winners will be selected--post links to your entries in the comments below! I contend that the Haggis is surely a mammal, but am prepared to be corrected. Also, of what order? Ovis Haggisis? The Tasmanian Devil-like Sarcophilus Haggisii?


  1. I would think that the haggis is a wide-bodied sheepish creature with a dished-out back that holds a fair square of earth perfectly suited to growing oats. With the creatures movements the movable feast of a sheave of oats drops within cropping distance, sustaining the creature throughout its life time. The wily scots keep an eye on the mighty haggis, and at the end of the peak oat growth season, they cull the herd of its fattest specimens.

  2. Ahem… In fact, the Haggis is a beautiful wee beastie that roams the highlands of Scotland. Fur covers his entire body, except for the tip of his head, which is why you will always see Haggis pictured wearing a “toatie bunnet upain his heid.”
    The greatest evolutionary peculiarity of the haggis is his legs; naturally bipedal, one leg is invariably longer than the other. This does present an advantage, though, as it allows him to whirl aboot the hills at great speed.
    The Haggis was described as “The Chieftain O’ The Puddin’ Race” by Burns, although this represents only one lyrical reference to the beast. At one point they were the greatest threat to Scots life known, and declared an enemy of the kingdom. Songs are still sung about the Great Haggis Hunts of legend.
    Wild Haggis are increasingly rare, since it became known that the fastest way to catch one is to observe how it runs around the hill, and run in the opposite direction. Still, Haggis-related deaths account for 0.02% of deaths in certain parts of the country.

    And yes, you can get them deep fried, though these tend to be a tame variety of the Lowland Sausage Haggis, which is sausage-shaped. Not Lorne Sausage shaped, the other kind.
    After being driven almost to extinction, the Haggis has been replaced culinarily by a faux-Haggis which has come to simply be called Haggis. This is made of the heart, lungs, hoofs, brains, eyelashes, and holiday homes of a sheep, mixed with grain, and cooked in its’ own stomach.

    1. Znaps has pretty much given you the perfect low-down on these particular fauna!

      >>And yes, you can get them deep fried, though these tend to be a tame variety of the Lowland Sausage Haggis, which is sausage-shaped. Not Lorne Sausage shaped, the other kind.

      The Haggis that I’ve got from chippers is always a half a round haggis battered, and I’ve had enough haggis suppers (supper being Scots for “and chips”) to consider myself a bit of an expert. :-P

      I love haggis.

      1. >>The Haggis that I’ve got from chippers is always a half a round haggis battered, and I’ve had enough haggis suppers (supper being Scots for “and chips”) to consider myself a bit of an expert. :-P

        Really? The Southern Lowland Haggis might be more of a Glasgow thing.

        I mean, it’s confusing enough to go into a chippie and the sign says Fish & Chicken Bar, and coming out with a Haggis…

  3. hmmm, i think maybe people are taking the piss when answering this survey. i know if i was asked by someone serious with a clipboard, i’d say it was a musical instrument. surely its not as ridiculous as a bagpipe

  4. Haggis is actually a practical joke that the Scottish like to play on tourists. While the tourists are eating the haggis to get the “Scottish experience”, the Scots are keeping a straight face and trying to decide what trick they’ll be pulling next.

    It’s a lot like Australians and vegemite.

    1. Aargh! My daughters will never forgive me for posting their artworks without logging in! I’m not anonymous, I’m Shadywood!

  5. Readers may be interested in the following peer-reviewed article by Prof. Oleg McNoleg, Brigadoon University of Longitudinal Learning.

    Oleg McNoleg, 1996, “The integration of GIS, remote sensing, expert systems and adaptive co-kriging for environmental habitat modeling of the Highland Haggis using object-oriented, fuzzy-logic and neural-network techniques”, Computers & Geosciences Vol. 22, No. 5, pp. 585-588

  6. I got to my hotel in the Highlands at about 2200 and the kitchen only had two things left: haggis and lamb’s brains. Guess which one I ate.

  7. The Haggis Beast is a terrible semi-humanoid with green skin, “facial” warts, knobbly digits and a call that resembles a hideous cackle. It’s quite dangerous, attempting to trick young adventuresome men (so they’ll go away) or lure young women/small children to its abode for eventual consumption. In fact, it’s the inspiration for the mythical “hag,” but of course it’s only an animal and therefore edible.

    Unfortunately, it’s only partly edible, even to the renowned-for-their-ingenuity-in-using-every-bit Scots. The only part that can be eaten is an oval ellipsoid of meat that protrudes from the front of the chest, ending in a small protuberance at the end. Fortunately, each Haggis Beast has two of them, side by side, on their semi-humanoid chest. When the harvest from the Haggis Beast cooked, the green color of their skin becomes a more palatable shade.

    I attempted to illustrate this terrifying creature, but the result was so vile I may not show it to you.

  8. To me, it looks like a kind omnivorous beast. A chubby platypus, stripped of its beak before cooking (poor thing), but well fed by friendly seniors who scatter oatmeal and offal by the handful while lazing about on park benches near lakes. Definitely the kind of beast who, when brought to the vet, would evoke an exhortation against overfeeding one’s pet. “It should have a waist!” says the kindly, yet mis-guided veterinarian.

  9. Shown in the link is a photo of a wild Haggis in it’s natural environment. Praised in Scotland not so much for the taste but it’s extreme ease in catching. The Haggis is a mainstay of celebratory dinners throughout Scotland, and lucky is the boy or girl who finds one of the “magic teeth” in a mouthful.

    Also, for some unknown reason, the Haggis is believed to bestow wild verility to any Scotsman who eats of it’s flesh, while a lassie who can down a whole Haggis is considered a fine catch indeed.

  10. Haggis is simply the larval stage, as all Scotsmen ken, of the Loch Ness monster. It hatches among the crags and braes, eyeless, brainless and mouthless in the normal sense, having a circular array of inward pointing needle teeth with which it attaches itself to the nasal passages of sheep and by a slow, natural, if ovine, peristaltic migration acquires its customary contents. In its next phase, the wee beastie sheds its pointy teeth and grows instead a triad of bony plates arranged like the Tri-Force, at which point it becomes an oat eater with emergent limbs, making its way slowly downhill, whilst getting more and more bloated in the process. All highlanders recognize the haggis on sight by its peculiar habit of locomotion and shun it vigorously, especially the intensely malodorous greenish-black varieties but all are equally objectionable — except in the case of visiting Englishmen, in honor of which occasion, the young monster is caught, decapitated, boiled and brought to table as a rare delicacy. It was no doubt a nearly fully-grown haggis that Saint Columba saw returning to the Loch, all those centuries ago.

  11. No no no.

    The Haggis is small and hairless with tiny wee legs. It’s the infant form of the beastie. It roams the hillside and is easy pickings for hunters, not to mention delicious to boot.

    It then grows to an adolescent stage where its skin toughens and it grows short thick fur. At this stage it gains very pointy teeth for defense and they are known for biting, erm, scotsmen’s unmentionables. It killed they are hollowed and worn about the waist, used themselves as defense against the pointy teeth.

    Finally its legs grow out, long and spindly, the teeth drop out and the fur rubs down. The adult form is rare, mostly found on the highest peaks. If captured, they are hollowed out and used as a musical instrument.

  12. Besides being delicious, as every good scotsman knows the haggis is a wee beastie with the legs on one side shorter than the other. This causes it to run continuously around the same hill making it very easy prey for hunters.

  13. Hey guys,
    I sometimes work in Selkirk in the Scottish borders, and they have an annual haggis hunt – there’s a photo montage video here:
    Although, much more entertaining is this footage of some Canadians out doing some high octane haggis hunting for Rabbie Burns day!

    good work!

  14. The Haggis is a small, stocky farming animal used for riding and ploughing. It is known for its extreme ineffectiveness, its exceeding lethargy and a serious condition of obesity. It spends its days eating, sleeping, moaning and refusing to do any work it is given, thereby frequently causing people to get fed up with it and just eat it instead.
    It can be said to look somewhat like this:

  15. I think the perception that the haggis is an animal must in some part derive from the classic BBC show The Goodies. The episode (which i just googled) was called Scotland and all 3 of the protagonists go on a hunt for wild haggis. Needless to say, hilarity did ensue.

  16. May I perhaps add a clarification [] to this story from personal experience:
    “According to a survey in the UK, one in five Britons [will tell Americans that they believe] that haggis, a traditional Scottish meal made from all the sheep bits the English didn’t steal, is in fact “an animal that roams the highlands.”

    Besides, everyone knows that Haggisses are small furry creatures with one leg longer than the other to allow them to walk level in the Highlands. Males have the left leg longer (causing them to walk anticlockwise on the flat), females the right leg (causing a clockwise rotation). It’s possible to sink a well/create a hole by confining a Haggis in a barrel with the bottom knocked out – they’ll be forced to run around the outside due to the leg imbalance and will wear a trench. The canny Highlander may then simply scoop the dirt from the centre as the barrel slowly sinks into the ground

  17. I have a haggis story of note – one day several years ago I got a telemarketing call trying to sell magazines for accounting and marketing people. I blearily answered the phone at home and got this chipper voice wanting someone in my accounting dept. Wickedly I said “Can you please hold?” and went to make coffee and puttered and came back and and the marketing drone was still there, I asked who they were holding for, they repeated. Out of the depths of my subconcious or having fallen asleep watching Craig Ferguson I said “Oh, you want to speak to Mr. Angus. Please hold.” And so I went away from the phone, thought for a minute and came back doing my best Scottish accent the whole way. Think somewhere between Billy Connolly and Fat Bastard and proceeded to spin out that no this wasn’t a metal fabrication company the person thought they were calling but rather Angus McHaggis’ House of Mail Order Haggis. I had to fire up Wikipedia to explain to the rather curious nerd what was in haggis because I had no idea. It was quite fun to fark with the guy and I offered to send him our overnight shipped frozen sampler packs “Feeds a Scottish family of 8 or America family of 4, as you fellows tend to be on the hefty side, no offense.” No one has ever taken me up on the free haggis.

    I’ve played this prank on marketing callers ever since since A: no one will hang up on a person with a Scottish accent no matter how ridiculous and B: they seem to be terribly interested in haggis.

    The best bit is there’s a lady that tried to sell me ‘pre-need memorials’ once. I pretended to be thick and finally said “Are these those wee rocks you put in yer boneyards lass?” I convinced her that all Scots aren’t buried under headstones but buried under a broadsword like in the “Highlander” movie and that since she confessed she wanted to visit Scotland one day to ask in any pub about the Hill of the Swords over Edinburgh. “A finer boneyard you’ll never see lassie – all those polish hilts glintin’ as the morning son hits them against tha beautiful green hillside!” A practical joke that I’ll never get to see the payoff to…

  18. The Scottish Haggis Beast – The world’s only mammal/reptile symbiont. The reptile part of the Haggis is the ancient MacDugal Dragonis Weenis, the only surviving relative of the once mighty Scottish Dragons. The mammal part is Sheeple Sapiens, a human/sheep hybrid that came into existence several thousand years ago through what is known as “animal husbandry.” It is believed that when dragons lost their ability to breath fire, they turned to sheeple for wormth and in return, promised not to eat them. A pretty fair trade except that now we eat them whenever we go to Scottland. Yum!

  19. Haggis is the larval form of the shoggoth.

    And I can’t get over that the prize is a phone named after a goddess of discord. They did that on purpose, didn’t they?

  20. It’s closely related to the kebab creature, the only boneless mammalian herbivore known to exist outside Australasia.

  21. I hear tell that, in the summer, the beasties get so desperate for moisture, they start clambering up the inside of peoples’ kilts.

  22. Every time I try to imagine what a haggis beast would look like, it always comes up looking almost exactly like a Highland cow. This seems entirely appropriate.

  23. as a scot, i can confirm that this is the true haggis. it has remained as yet uncaptured due to its fearsome horn. it is thought to be directly descended from manatees.

  24. The tale of the last English Haggis Beast was actually detailed in Bram Stoker’s “Lair of the White Worm”. The less fearsome Scots Haggis Beast still are found merrily gamboling in caverns and lochs, except when harvested for this dish.

    I read an article in a microscopy journal(?) that involved an electron microscope survey of haggis. Even at that ultrastructural level it wasn’t pretty.
    This also:


    The Haggis is a creature found in Scotland, created from the dreams only of a true-born Scot. Scotland in unique among all the countries of the world in that certain vapours escape through the earth’s crust where they are fermented in the Scottish lochs before escaping into the wider atmosphere. These vapours are breathed in by the Scottish where they gradually build up in the blood in only the minutest quantities. Babies exposed to these compounds in the womb are more susceptible to absorbing these vapours and as a result only a 10th-generation Scot or better will have enough of the compound in their blood to produce a haggis.

    What happens is this: When a true-born Scot dreams, they slowly produce a ‘boillsgeach braghairt’, an ephemeral tubular creature that will flit around in the night before ascending to heaven at sunrise. These creatures are normally barely visible and most people disregard them as a trick of the light. However, the consistency and behaviour of a boillsgeach braghairt will change depending on what the dreamer is dreaming and when a true-born Scot dreams of the rolling Scottish hills and the sweet scent of the Scottish heather a slightly different creature is born, a ‘fleòdradh braghairt’. There are more substantial creatures that can be captured with the use of a hook and line, but have very tough flesh and an exceptionally bitter taste.

    The fleòdradh braghairt were viewed as useless until a Scot named Domhnall Gille Mhuire worked out that the fleòdradh braghairt could be transformed into something delicious if the dreaming Scot had been drinking alcohol the night before. Different drinks give the haggis a slightly different taste, so it is well worth going on a Haggis eating course, where you will be presented with Haggis resulting from many different dreams and beverages (Personally I recommend a haggis borne from a Scot dreaming of the Dornoch Firth who had been drinking ‘Glen Garioch’).

    When a true Haggis is born, rather than appearing above its dreamer’s head, it will appear in the landscape of the dreamer’s dream – hence haggis-catchers (‘prainnseag-sealgair’) will camp out in Scotland’s areas of outstanding natural beauty and hunt in the small hours of the morning.

    Hunting the haggis is quite simple. A rotting vegetable (often a cabbage) is soaked in vinegar and scotch and put on a wooden spike. The Haggis is attracted by the smell but knocked out by the scotch. After that the prainnseag-sealgair can just despatch the haggis by knocking it on the head end and then the wings are dissolved off by rubbing it in pig fat and immersing it in a stream for 3 days.

    1. Excellent entries all, but I must say, my favourite is #56 by Tom, with special mention to Ed Frome @ #63

      Well done everybody.

  26. Haggis are omnivorous mammals that roam the Scottish Highlands by way of burrowing. They grow to the roughly the size of a small dog and are almost hairless. They spend their days searching for roots, grasses, and insects to feed on underground and have even been spotted consuming carrion. Male haggis have large, bulbous crests on top of their heads with which they use to attract females. males also have a pair of tusks which they use in combat with other males during the breeding season.

    Here is my take –

  27. The Haggis is a ferocious beast, although sightings are quite rare. I managed to capture a picture of the magnificent monstrosity the last time i was out hiking the highlands and have discovered that, quite contrary to popular belief, the Haggis is actually a member of the bird family!!! Enclosed is my picture, which I believe is of a young pre-pubescent male in the act of hunting.

  28. Although this is not an entry for the competition I thought I would share this photo from the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow

    It’s been there for years and always gets lots of interest and comments from visitors

  29. The Haggis (Struthio scoties – the species formerly known as Struthio camelus massaicus, before it joined the pilgrimage of native Scots who were returning from Egypt after overseeing the design of the pyramids).

    The Haggis, King of the Pudding Race (Struthio c. tasties, now all but extinct throughout Great Britain) is rare enough to have inspired many legends some of which are as ludicrous as the mythical “Hard-Working Banker” and the “Civil Servant”. What follows here is purest truth.

    The haggis is a beast of immense poetry, with a soul so deeply in tune with nature that its mating call haunts all those who have heard it. The beast sheds tears of purest whiskey as it sings, and strong men have been known to cry at the sound. The song is so heart-wrenching that it is said to have made strong women complement one another’s shoes… sincerely.

    The haggis seeks peace. Once such has been achieved, it sighs out its last song and crosses over into infinity, leaving behind a blessed treasure trove for the native hunter. The sounding horn/skull of the haggis is fine as crystal and contains the last of the beast’s un-cried tears. This blessed potable is said to be the liquid that inspired the gods to create wine.

    In the past, the skin of the beast was cured and used as an invincible armour, the kilt, literally girding the loins of warriors. Since the warriors guild and the tanners guild together are vastly outnumbered by the Scottish Sisterhood of Spinners, Weavers and Loomers, this armour has been replaced in common usage by a fairly itchy wool.

    The dried skin and bones are sometimes re-inflated and carried about by worshippers, intent on recreating the Haggis’ last song. While a scattered few respect this for the tribute that it is, many consider the act sacrilegious and ban such performances from their neighbourhoods, public causeways and senior’s residences.

    The innards of the haggis, a natural condensation of the animal itself and its environment, is a delicacy beyond compare. The traveller who comes upon a haggis in time to hear the final note sung must quickly avail himself of this delicacy before it spoils. After even a few seconds, the magic is gone from the repast, and what remains is just plain offal.

  30. the haggis is a wee brown fluffly mammal with a coat resembling a skunk, and a face akin to a guinee pigs. depending on which species, the haggis either has its left or right pair of legs shorter than the other pair so it han run around the scottish hills without falling over.its propper name is Haggis Scoticus

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