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Title: They lived on meat and milk : dairy and diet in Gaelic Scotland, fifteenth through eighteenth centuries, including a glossary of animal husbandry terms, Gaelic to English
Author: Meeks, Martha C.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2003
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The purpose of this thesis is to identify and define how and what food was produced in the Western Islands and Highlands of Scotland, especially from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries, and to test the hypothesis that the main dietary items were meat, milk and milk products in many areas of the Gaidhealtachd. This thesis examines the husbanding of animals that was critical to the Gael's livelihood. A dairy economy requires extensive skill with animals and knowledge of animal physiology and behaviour, as well as labour intensive skills for the manufacture of milk products. For many years before the 'improvers' came into the Scottish Highlands, a satisfactory living was obtained from utilising available resources from milk cows, beef and wild game such as deer, salmon, trout and upland game birds. These facts have been underplayed or neglected by many historians, largely because of linguistic difficulties and the scattered nature of the evidence. In order to address this situation and explain it, a scientific foundation has been established in the first two chapters. The third chapter looks at first hand accounts of travellers in the area and their observations regarding available food in a Highland society. It also touches upon certain political events that influenced changes in the daily regime of food production. Chapters four to fifteen provide linguistic analyses of the key word-families under such headings as 'The Milk Cow', 'Dairy Produce', 'Dairy Implements' etc. The sources for these chapters include a wide spectrum of Gaelic literary sources in the form of proverbs, songs, stories etc. This data is supplemented and controlled by data drawn from the principal Gaelic Dictionaries that have furnished animal husbandry words for a 1500 term Gaelic-English glossary which is included as an alphabetical listing within the body of the thesis. Fieldwork with native speakers from the Outer Isles, Skye and the mainland Gaidhealtachd has given a context for these terms, supplementing and complementing the contribution of Gaelic literature and lexicography.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available