Early Days, Unusual Races!

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.”

HarrigalsHarrigals 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.