Ancient Scotts Only Ate Kosher Animals!
A significant portion of the inhabitants of Scotland were descended from Israelites. Amongst other signs of their ancestry they traditionally refused to eat pork.
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Duration 18.42 minutes
1. The Ten Tribes Go Westward
2. The Scythians Avoided Swine.
3. Scythians and the Scotts. The Declaration of Arbroath
4. The Irish Also Once Kept the Law!
5. THE SCOTTISH-ISRAELITE FOOD TABOOS: Sources.
6. Other Suggested Explanations
7. Jews in the Orkneys
1. The Ten Tribes Go Westward
The Ten Lost Tribes had been exiled by the Assyrians. A portion were taken directly overseas to Spain and other areas whence they reached the British Isles. Others were taken into the Assyrian Empire where they linked up with, or became identified as the Cimmerians, Scythians, and Guti or Goths. These peoples moved northwards and after that, by stages, to the west eventually reaching Western Europe and the British Isles. We can trace the migrations of these peoples and also find in their customs and namesakes evidence of their Hebraic ancestry.
The present article deals with the maintenance of culinary interdictions derived from the Mosaic Law. The emphasis is upon Scotland.
# Such are the observances of the Scythians with respect to sacrifice. They never use swine for the purpose, nor indeed is it their wont to breed them in any part of their country (Herodotus vol.3 bk.4;63).
3. Scythians and the Scotts. The Declaration of Arbroath
From the Scythians emerged a portion of the settlers of British Isles in Celtic times as well as those who came later with the Anglo-Saxon invasions.
The Scottish and part of the Irish also had traditions that they descended from the Scythians.
Craig White tells us:
The Scots were also known as Scithae, Scitae, Scuitae and Scotae to the old writers... the Greeks called the Scythians Skuthes,
According to 'The Descent of the Gaels' by James Grant, an Edinburgh Advocate, and published in 1814, the early Scots were known as Scyths. That, according to Grant, was the confirmed opinion of such old Roman writers as Radulphus,Claudian, Isidore and others. This particular Gaelic branch of the Celtic incomers is supposed to have come direct to Scotland through Scandinavia, and acquired the designation of Scyths because they were nomads, wanderers, without a settled home.
(McCormick, J . 'The Origin of the Scots'. The Covenant People, Vancouver, c1960: 2-3)
By 1320 CE the Scottish had concluded a successful war against England. They issued a declaration of Independence in the form of a letter to the Pope.
This is known as The Declaration of Arbroath. The original was written in Latin.
Here are extracts from an English Translation:
# Most Holy Father and Lord, we know and from the chronicles and books of the ancients we find that among other famous nations our own, the Scots, has been graced with widespread renown. They journeyed from Greater Scythia by way of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Pillars of Hercules, and dwelt for a long course of time in Spain among the most savage tribes, but nowhere could they be subdued by any race, however barbarous. Thence they came, twelve hundred years after the people of Israel crossed the Red Sea, to their home in the west where they still live today. The Britons they first drove out, the Picts they utterly destroyed, and, even though very often assailed by the Norwegians, the Danes and the English, they took possession of that home with many victories and untold efforts; and, as the historians of old time bear witness, they have held it free of all bondage ever since. In their kingdom there have reigned one hundred and thirteen kings of their own royal stock, the line unbroken by a single foreigner. #
4. The Irish Also Once Kept the Law!
The inhabitants of Scotland are actually a combination of different peoples. The very name Scotland is derived from the Scotti who originally came from Ireland and conquered part of what is now western Scotland.
The Irish also had traditions suggesting Israelite Descent and of having once kept the Mosaic Laws.
LOUIS HYMAN, for instance, wrote a history book entitled: "The Jews of Ireland", Published jointly by the Jewish Historical Society of England, London and Israel Universities Press, Jerusalem, Israel, 1972. Hyman had lived in Ireland and had been a JP there. He knew his subject. On p.1 Hyman reports:
"It is stated in very old copies of The Book of Invasions and other ancient documents that it was the Mosaic law that the Milesians brought into Errin [i.e. Ireland] at their coming; that it had been learned and received from Moses in Egypt by Cae Cain Beathach, who was himself an Israelite, who had been sent into Egypt to learn the language of that country by the great master Fenius Farsaith, from whom the Milesian brothers, who conquered Errin, are recorded to have been the twenty second generation in descent; and it is stated in the preface to Seanchas Mord that this was the law of Errin at the time of the coming of St.Patrick".
The above source implies quite strongly that the Milesians were of Israelite Descent and that before becoming Christians (in the time of Patrick) they had kept the Mosaic Law.
The Milesians, according to Irish Tradition, were the last of the "native" groups to arrive in Ireland. They were to rule over Ireland for about 800 years and comprised about 30% of the population.
We see from the above sources quoted by Hyman that the Milesians of Ireland had a tradition that they were descended from Israelites and had once observed the Laws of the Bible.
The Milesians were also known as Hiberi, and as Scotti. It was these that later conquered and in part settled in Scotland. Later we find evidence of an aversion to swine and other animals forbidden by the Mosaic Law. These prohibitions existed throughout Scotland both amongst Highlanders and Lowlanders. They were not kept everywhere with the same stringency but an awareness that such taboos existed or had once been the practice appears to have been ubiquitous. We do not know when or how these taboos began but they appear to have preceded Christianity. They were also concomintant with a feeling of Israelite ancestry. Many amongst the Scottish did not eat certain foods because they had a tradition not to and they associated this practice with the Bible. This is an indication of Israelite ancestry.
5. THE SCOTTISH-ISRAELITE FOOD TABOOS: Sources.
Donald A.Mackenzie, in "Scottish Folf Lore and Folk Life. Studies in Race, Culture, and Tradition", U.K., 1935, ch.1, is the main source for this article.
Mackenzie (1935) examined the existence of food prohibitions amongst the Scottish. His findings were that: In northeast England (bordering Scotland),
"fishermen dislike reference being made to the pig in connection with their work"
In Scotland an aversion to the pig is deep rooted even now and was much stronger in the past. This aversion exists amongst both Highlanders and Lowlanders.
"There are still thousands of Highlanders and groups of Lowlanders who refuse to keep pigs or to partake of their flesh".
MacKenzie quotes from Sir Walter Scott ("The Fortunes of Nigel"):
"Sir Munko cannot abide pork, no more than the King's most sacred majesty, or my Lord Duke Lennox, nor Lord Dalgarno...But the Scots never eat pork strange that! Some folk think they are a sort of Jews."
"The Scots [i.e. Lowlanders] till within the last generation disliked swine's flesh as an article of food as much as the Highlanders do at present".
Also from Sir Walter ("The Two Drovers") we have an account of execration in Gaelic of a Highlander cursing some Englishmen who had been ridiculing him:
"A hundred curses on the swine eaters, who know neither decency nor civility!"
James-vi of Scotland (who became James-i of Great Britain) "hated pork in all its varieties" 2
In the English Civil War, a song against Scottish partisans of the Rump Parliament (1639-1661) went:
"The Jewish Scots that scorns to eat
The Flesh of Swine, and brewers beat,
'twas the sight of this Hogs head made 'em retreat,
Which nobody can deny."
"Why do Scotchmen hate swine's flesh?"....
"They might borrow it of the Jews"...
"The same prejudice, though infinitely abated, still subsists. Yet it is not known that swine have been regarded as mystical animals in Scotland. Early in the seventeenth century the aversion to them by the lower ranks, especially in the north, was so great, and elsewhere, and the flesh was so much undervalued, that, except for those reared at mills, the breed would have been extirpated".
A certain Captain Burt on duty in Scotland in 1730 wrote:
"Pork is not very common with us, but what we have is good. I have often heard that the Scots will not eat it..........It is here a general notion that where the chief declares against pork, his followers affect to show the same dislike..."
Mackenzie says that,
"Burt also refers to the Scottish prejudice against eating eels..." 3
"The vulgar inhabitants of Skye, I know not whether of the other islands, have not only eels but pork and bacon in abhorrence; and accordingly I never saw a hog in the Hebrides, except one at Dunvegan".
Rev. L. Grant (1793):
"the deep rooted prejudice against swine's flesh is now removed..."
Dean Ramsay (1793-1872):
"The old aversion to the `unclean animal' still lingers in the Highlands....I recollect an old Scottish gentleman who shared this horror, asking very gravely, `Were not swine forbidden under the law and cursed under the gospel'?"
John Toland (1714):
"You know how considerable a part of the British inhabitants are the undoubted offspring of the Jews and how many worthy prelates of this same stock, not to speak of Lords and commoners, may at this time make an illustrious figure among us....A great number of 'em fled to Scotland which is the reason so many in that part of the Island have a remarkable aversion to pork and black puddings to this day, not to insist on some other resemblances easily observable.." 4
We see from the above sources that Biblical Food taboos existed throughout Scotland and that they were associated with the Jews.
D.A. MacKenzie continued to discuss the swine taboo in chapter ii of his work. He claimed that the taboo preceded Christianity and that the coming of Christian missionaries to Scotland actually weakened the prohibition. Mackenzie stated that after examination it appeared to him that in ancient Scotland there were two different cults or attitudes, one of which regarded the pig with abhorrence while the other revered it. The Picts in northern Scotland had two clans, one called the Clan of Orcs [i.e. pigs] and the other The Clan of Cats. Ancient pictures of wild boars have been found engraved on rocks. A first century BCE grave in Scotland contained what appears to have been a pig offering and other finds indicate the consumption of swine..
MacKenzie connects the pig taboo with the Galatians in Galatian Anatolia. These were a small group of Galatians (also called "Galli") who had gravitated to Anatolia (modern Turkey), conquered Phrygia and formed their own kingdom called Galatia in which they ruled over the natives. Lucian ("De Dea Syria") wrote concerning the Galli of Galatia:
"They sacrifice bulls and cows alike and goats and sheep; pigs alone which they abominate, are neither sacrificed nor eaten. Others look on swine without disgust, but as holy animals".
Pausanius drawing upon a source from the 300s BCE said that the Galatae in Anatolia ceased to eat pork because Attis the god of the region had been slain by a boar. Attis is connected with the cult of the Great Mother and MacKenzie supposes that the Galatae adopted this cult. Later, he suggests, mercenaries from the Celtic west who came into contact with the Galatians of Galatia also received the pig taboo and somehow through them it reached Scotland 5. At all events, the ultimate source of this pig taboo came from the Middle East.
Mackenzie brings numerous sources showing that in Gaul, in Ireland, in other parts of Britain, pigs were both plentiful and respected. The boar was a favourite symbol. Pigs were reared for meat all over the Celtic area and the Continental Celts even had a developed industry curing swine meat which they sold to the Romans and were famous for. Archaeological findings often reveal preserved swine flesh in various receptacles. 6 [Later the Scots-Irish in Ulster and in the USA in the South appear to have put quite an emphasis on pig-raising and to have preferred it in many cases to other occupations. The raising of pigs came to be considered a typical feature of Scotch-Irish "Cracker" culture. ]. All of these areas had frequent contact with the region of Scotland and their influence is enough to explain all evidence (which in fact is not so plentiful) of pig meat in ancient Scotland. On the other hand, the suggestion of influence on Scotland from the Galatian area in distant Anatolia is unconvincing. Despite Pausanius we cannot be really sure that the Galatians did not bring their pig taboo with them to Anatolia instead of adopting it there. At all events, why should only far-away Scotland have been influenced by the Galatians of the east?
Another point is that a good portion of the population of Scotland only arrived there well after ca. 200 BCE. They came to Scotland via Ireland or via Spain or via Scythia and the north. Different groups settled in different areas yet the pig taboo was accepted all over Scotland by a good proportion of the populace and the prohibition was deeply entrenched in popular consciousness. Eels, and hare, are also forbidden by the Mosaic code and the Scotts had prejudices against all of these and refused to eat them though they are popular foods amongst the neighbouring English. The obvious place to look for the source of these prohibitions is in a past exposure to and acceptance of the Mosaic Law and this was the source to which observers in the past usually traced them. It is interesting to note that from time to time certain fish and fowl which the Mosaic Code (of Ancient Israel) does permit came under a ban but only in the case of those expressly prohibited by the Law of Moses did the taboo last or become widely accepted.
"Julius Casar found that the ancient Britons tabooed the hare, the domestic fowl and the goose. The hare is still taboo to many Scots".
In Western Brittany the hare was also tabooed. 7
The hare is forbidden by the Bible. Domestic fowl and geese are permitted but many birds are forbidden and the details may have become confused.
It should be noted that abstaining from foods prohibited by the Mosaic Law may have physiological advantages conducive to long-term physical and emotional stability.
Not only in Scotland but THROUGHOUT THE BRITISH ISLES the early Christians often adopted aspects of "Old Testament" law.
Amongst the early British Christians there existed a conscious identification with the Jews and ancient Levis. Some of the Biblical practices had proven parallels in ancient Druidical pre-Christian custom which taken together with other facts proves that at least a portion of these people were of Israelite descent. More on this subject is to be discussed elsewhere.
It should be noted that alongside the Hebraic practices there were also pagan and Later Christian ones. Some of these were quite barbaric and idolatrous.
"little exceeded pigmies in stature; they did marvels, in the morning and in the evening, in building [walled] towns, but at mid-day they entirely lost all their strength, and lurked, through fear, in little underground houses.
And the Papae have been named from their white robes, which they wore like priests; An island is still called, after them, Papey .... But, as is observed from their habit and the writings of their books abandoned there, they were Africans, adhering to Judaism."
Whether or not a portion of the Scotts are descended from Israelites is a subject for consideration.
Additional evidence indicates that they were.
The sources above do not necessarily prove anything in themselves but they show there is something to talk about. Together with additional evidence they prove that part of the Scottish populace is of Hebraic origin. It remains to determine what proportion this is.
Inhabitants of the British Isles in general had some kind of attraction to Hebrew Practices. This was especially noticeable in Scotland. Several different explanations exist for this phenomenon. An instinctive Remembrance of Israelite Ancestry is the one answer that actually answers the question: Aspects of the Mosaic Law were kept in Scotland because the people felt themselves obliged to keep them since they too had once received these laws.
#3. Duncan Long: Additional Scottish-Hebrew Food Taboos?
As a child, I was told that my grandfather (whose last name was "Duncan" -- which I inherited as my first name) had told my mother and her siblings that they should never drink milk with meat (including fish). Now the milk/fish thing had nothing to do with Mosaic food laws. However drinking milk with beef would. I don't know that this was necessarily a Scottish belief -- it might even have come from his reading of the Bible given that he was a Christian. But it might be something worth checking out to see if there's another link there.
1. Donald A.Mackenzie, in "Scottish Folf Lore and Folk Life. Studies in Race, Culture, and Tradition", U.K., 1935, ch.1.
2. MacKenzie p.43 quotes Grifford.
3. MacKenzie p.45
4. Leon Poliakov ("The Aryan Myth", 1974 ch.3 p.44 ) quotes from John Toland, 1714, "Reasons for Naturalising the Jews in Great Britain and Ireland".
5. Mackenzie p.66.
6. MacKenzie p.81.
7. MacKenzie p.83.
Kosher Scots? The Food Taboos of Old Scotland
Scottish pork taboo
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