Having received some interesting stuff via email, I’ll put some of the more interesting races and events from the early days up here – it will be updated every time I get something new (?). First off we have this
An article from the June 11th 1661 issue of Edinburgh’s Caledonian Mercury,): “six brewster wives, great with childe, are to run from the Thicket Burn to the top of Arthur Seat,for a groaning cheese of one hundred pounds weight, and a budgell of Dunkel aquavitæ; with a rumpkine of Brumswick mum for the second placed, set down by a Dutch midwife. The next day after, sixteen fish-wives to trot from Muslburgh to the Cannon-cross (~7 miles) for twelve pair of lambs harrigals.”
‘Harrigals’ Harrigals refers in general to ‘entrails’; but reference to ‘pair’ of them suggests Lungs-and-Heart or ‘lungs and lichts’. In other words, the main ingredient of haggis!
‘Thicket ‘Thicket Burn’, is probably the ‘Figgat Burn’, near Dunsappie Loch, bottom of Arthur’s Seat.
‘Brewster wives’, ‘Brewsters’ were publicans.These were their wives or possibly publicans themselves.
‘budgell’ is a bottle, from the Gaelic ‘Buideal.;
‘Dunkeld aquavitæ’ is of course whisky, presumably distilled and matured in Dunkeld.
‘rumpkine’ sounds like a measure, I don’t know how much. Possibly a quart?
‘Brunswick Mum’ for the runner-up. This might be Porter or ale, though why a ‘Dutch Midwife sets it down ’ I’ve no idea. Might be related in to the pregnancies of the Brewster women? Bit of a coincidence otherwise, – a midwife and six women ’great with childe’.
‘groaning cheese of one hundred pounds weight’ was actually heavier than this appears. Then, ‘one hundred pounds ‘ in Scotland equalled about 110 lbs Imperial.
Also then, the ‘lang Scots mile’ of 1976.5 yards was 216.5 yards longer than our current 1760 yards. Hugh, I wondered if anyone had run a ‘Lang Scots Mile’ in under four minutes. So I tried to work it out, but reckoned that El Guerrouj’s 3.43.1 – if he’d kept going at 7.8 yards/sec – would have taken him to about 1893 yards in 4 minutes, i.e. about 83 yards short. I reckon we’ll need to wait until someone runs the mile in 3mins 33s, before we see the possibility of a 4 minute Scots Mile!!
By the way, the old Scots Pint (or ‘Joug’) was equal to nearly three English pints), so our drinking records would have appeared rather a lot inferior to English ones!
Craig Sharp, who received the information from Peter Radford, sent it on to Hugh Barrow. Word of these events, and others, is always welcome.