Various Traditions #10 by
"Lost Israelite Identity.
The Israelite Origin of Celtic Races" (1996).
THE SCOTTISH-ISRAELITE FOOD TABOOS.
Donald A. 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
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
"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"):
Munko cannot abide pork, no more than the King's most sacred majesty, nor 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
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".
In the English Civil War, a song against Scottish partisans of the Rump
Parliament (1639-1661) went:
Jewish Scots that scorns to eat
The Flesh of Swine, and brewers beat,
'twas the sight of this Hogs head made 'em
Which nobody can deny."
J. G. Dalyell (1691):
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
A certain Captain Burt on duty in Scotland in 1730 wrote:
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,
also refers to the Scottish prejudice against eating eels and pike".
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
deep rooted prejudice against swine's flesh is now removed..."
Dean Ramsay (1793-1872):
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):
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."
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 Bears (Orcs) 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:
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. At all events, the ultimate source of this pig taboo came from the
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
favorite 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 from Europe often reveal preserved swine flesh in
various receptacles. 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, hare, and pike are also forbidden by the Mosaic code and the Scots had
prejudices against all of these and refused to eat them though they are popular
foods amongst the neighboring 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.
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.
It should be noted that abstaining from foods prohibited by the Mosaic
Law may have physiological advantages conducive to long-term physical and
Our examination of the religious practices of the early Christian
Celts revealed that not only food taboos but also a large number of other
practices were taken directly from the Mosaic Law and also that there existed a
conscious identification with the Jews and ancient Levis. Some of these
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.