last week's Flag in the Wind, Jim Lynch cast doubts on the popularity
of Cricket in Scotland, but it is a fact that there are more Cricket
Clubs in Aberdeenshire than in Yorkshire! Usually Cricket and Morris
Dancing are synonymous with England but there is however a long
tradition of both in Scotland. The poet William Dunbar testifies to
the popularity of the Morris Dance at the Scottish Court in the
Sum singis; sum dancis; sum tellis storeis;
Sum lait at evin bringis in the moreis.
Last week reference was made to the Celtic
Beltane celebrations which have lasted throughout the Centuries, but
in addition, there grew up the tradition in the Scottish Burghs of
celebrating May Day through symbols more associated with the festival
in England - May-pole, May Queen and King, games and Morris Dancing.
In the Burghs the ceremonies were directed by a "mock" Abbot
assisted by a Prior until the Sixteenth century when Robin Hood and
his attendant, Friar Tuck, took the place of the Abbot and Prior.
In recent years it has been suggested that
the story of the fictitious Robin Hood was indeed based on the
exploits of the great Scottish hero William Wallace. A recent book
"William Wallace - Robin Hood Revealed" by Anthony &
Paul Cooper ( BVM Publishing £12.99 ) looks in depth at the evidence
supporting this supposition. They make their argument well and the
book also contains a splendid prose version of Blind Harry's epic
Fifteenth Century poem on William Wallace. It was Blind Harry's work
which inspired the script for the Oscar winning film "Braveheart"
starring Mel Gibson as William Wallace.
But, whatever the truth of the tale,
undoubtedly William Wallace and "Robin Hood" would both have
enjoyed a feast of venison - as would you!
Venison in Claret
Ingredients ( 3-4 servings ) - 1 lb ( 500
g ) venison, shoulder, neck or slices from the haunch; 2 level
tablespoons flour seasoned with salt and pepper and 1/2 teaspoon
freshly ground allspice; 2 tablespoons oil; 1 onion, finely chopped; 1
pt ( 600 ml ) robust claret ; 1 tablespoon rowan jelly, plus
extra for serving; seasonings - salt and pepper.
Cut the meat up neatly into bite-size
pieces and coat in seasoned flour. Heat the oil in a pan or flameproof
casserole and brown the onion, then add the meat and brown well.
Sprinkle in any leftover flour. Add the claret and rowan jelly. Bring
to a slow simmer, cover and cook, preferably in a slow oven, till the
meat is tender, about one-and-a-half hours.
Season and serve with potatoes and rowan