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@Johnpow1 Beautiful patience 2 months ago in reply to Johnpow1

Happy Burns' Night everyone! Twitter embedded image 4 months ago

What would Burns say, on reading this week's tinsel show news? "Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine; A Ma……4 months ago

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The Haggis Mystery

The poem which we know as ’Address to a Haggis’ was written in 1786 - one of Burns's most famous and regularly performed poems.

Researching ‘AN OLD FARMER'S NEW YEAR'S MORNING SALUTATION’ we were distracted by a reference to the ‘Address to a Haggis’ which entitled it: ‘An Address To A Scotch Haggis on New Year’s Day’.

In 1806, it was part of a chapbook pamphlet published by Charles Randall, Stirling, with the title ‘An Address To A Scotch Haggis on New Year’s Day’, as a ‘filler’ supporting ‘The Auld Farmer’s Salutation To His Auld Mare Maggy’.

Burns didn’t call it ‘An Address To A Scotch Haggis on New Year’s Day’.

Where did that come from?

There are various stories linked to the writing of 'Address To A Haggis’.

• The first found, was contained in a caption relating to an engraving:

Archibald Prentice of Covington Mains, near Lanark, farmer, and friend of the Poet, known as "The Gudeman o' the Mains."

Mr. Prentice subscribed for 20 copies of the Edinburgh edition of the poems.

Burns, when on his way to Edinburgh in 1778, stayed overnight with Prentice. A sheet hoisted on a stack in the yard was the signal of the Poet's arrival, and all the neighbours assembled. To them, at supper time, the Poet recited the ‘Address to a Haggis’, composed for the occasion.

• Other accounts of the evening at Covington Mains make no mention of ‘Address to a Haggis’ but do however recount a telling of the ’Jolly Beggars’.

‘Robert Burns, in his itinerary to Edinburgh (per Mr Thomas Somerville LLD, nephew of Archibald Prentice) spent a night at the farmhouse of Mr Prentice, Covington Mains, near Carnwath. Archibald Prentice informed his brother farmers that Burns was expected at the Mains and a white sheet hoisted on a cornstack was to be a notice of his arrival and for all to assemble. Rev Briye Little, minister of the parish, Lang the schoolmaster and his brother the minister of Leadhills were present. Burns’s wonderful conversational powers drawn out by intelligent gentlemen and congenial friends carried all by storm. Songs and recitations, now grave, now gay, melted and cheered them by turns. In their excitement Burns said he would give the best yet after Mrs Prentice had left the room. She told him to go on – she would not leave the room that night. Burns then said, “Here is for the ‘Jolly Beggars’ (which was not published till after his death). Next morning accompanied by Prentice and the two Lang brothers, Burns breakfasted at Mr John Stoddart’s bank. On the way Mr Lang, of Leadhills asked Burns for a repetition of the ‘Jolly Beggars’. He replied ‘Na, na, Mr Lang, the inspiration is gone.’

• The Edinburgh Literary Journal, 1829 : “About 16 years ago, there resided at Mauchline, a Mr Robert Morrison, cabinet-maker. He was a great crony of Burns and it was in Mr Morrison's house that the poet usually spent the ‘mids o’ the day’ on Sunday. It was in this house that he wrote his celebrated ‘Address To A Haggis’ after partaking liberally of that dish, as prepared by Mrs Morrison.

• According to Robert Chambers, Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd has, on the contrary, averred that the poem was written in the house of Mr Andrew Bruce of Castle Hill, Edinburgh after in like manner partaking of the dish, but declares that it was first published in the Scots Magazine for January 1787. It was indeed published then, but it was actually first published on Tuesday December 19th 1786 when the poem appeared in The Caledonian Mercury with the heading :





But there’s a difference to the last verse that we are familiar with.

The Caledonian Mercury has, as the last verse :

Ye Pow’rs wha gie us a’ that’s gude,
Still bless auld Caledonia’s brood
Wi’ great John Barleycorn’s heart’s blude
In strowps or luggies;
And on our board that king o’ food,
A glorious Haggice!

The last verse – as we know today is :

Ye Pow’rs wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o’ fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer,
Gie her a Haggis!

• The Life & Works of Robert Burns, 1852, edited by Robert Chambers, features the original last verse as an impromptu Grace given by Burns :


It has been stated, that being present at a party where a haggis formed part of the entertainment, and being asked to say something appropriate on the occasion, Bums produced this stanza by way of grace; which being well received, he was induced to expand it into the poem entitled ‘To a Haggis’, retaining the verse in an altered form as a peroration. [The concluding part of a speech, typically intended to inspire enthusiasm in the audience.]

Robert Crawford’s The Bard, in which Crawford states “The best new poem Burns added (to the Edinburgh Edition) was ‘To a Haggis’. Perhaps composed in Mauchline for a ‘Haggis Club’ harvest supper in 1785 (as John Richmond claimed) the poem was certainly ready in time for 19 December’s Caledonian Mercury – a ‘taster’ for his second edition.

It seems unlikely that Burns composed a poem of 48 lines with 267 words ‘there and then’ at dinner on Castle Hill.

Perhaps it began at Mauchline, in Mr Morrison's house, and Robert Burns worked away at it and was perhaps able to perform it at Castle Hill – from memory.

Available from Waverley Books :

"Hansel Monday" - The first Monday after New Year, and Burns' Poem, 'An Old Farmer's New Year's Morning Salutation to his old Mare Maggie'

Happy New Year from Scotland! Gifts that are given at new year - 'the hansel'

We wish you and your family a very happy new year.

In this blog post we have taken a look at Robert Burns' poem that celebrated his horse, Maggie. In his poem Burns' celebrates his horse and the years of service Maggie has given him. He writes about giving Maggie a ripp of corn 'to hansel' in the new year.

Today people still 'first foot' a neighbour or family member or friend with a token gift of shortbread or coal. This tradition is centuries old but now symbolic of rural customs.

In various parts of Scotland, a sheaf of oats was a common first-footing present. On some occasions the sheaf of oats was the last sheaf of harvest. In other parts of Scotland, the last sheaf, with the grain, was mixed with the seeds for next year’s planting. Or it was fed to farm animals as a cure or charm, perhaps to ensure the animal’s fertility. It was the custom to give a token gift to mark the new year.

Burns' poem 'An Old Farmer's New Year's Morning Salutation to his old Mare Maggie' mentions the hansel, and confirms the custom of giving a hansel on new year's day, in Ayrshire in the eighteenth century.

Hansel – or Handsel - was a gift or token given at the beginning of the year or to mark an acquisition or the start of an enterprise, supposedly to bring good luck.

The first Monday after New Year was considered by many to be the first winter holiday of the year, and it was marked by the exhange of small gifts between family and friends, and from masters to servants. ('Hansel' is from an Old English word, and has roots also in Norse.)

“Whenever Burns has occasion,” says Hogg, our Ettrick Shepherd*, “to address or mention any subordinate being, however mean, even a mouse or a flower, then there is a gentle pathos in it that awakens the finest feelings of the heart.”

The Auld Farmer of Kyle has the spirit of knight-errant, and loves his mare according to the rules of chivalry; and well he might: she carried him safely home from markets, and triumphantly from wedding-brooses; she ploughed the stiffest land; faced the steepest brae, and, moreover, bore home his bonnie bride with a consciousness of the loveliness of the load.






















*James Hogg (1770 – 21 November 1835) was a Scottish poet, novelist and essayist who wrote in both Scots and English. As a young man he worked as a shepherd and farmhand and was largely self-educated through reading. He was a friend of many of the great writers of his day, He became widely known as the "Ettrick Shepherd".
We wish you all a hansel, and a sparkling year ahead.

Auld Lang Syne - why a song matters so much, and Robert Burns

Happy New Year!

We are big fans of tomorrow. And today. We celebrate the power of now. Such as it is. As a concept. And the day!

So - happy new year! Happy New Year!

We are fans of Robert Burns, as you know, and prepared a blog post about the traditional Scots song people sing on Hogmanay, ‘Auld Lang Syne’. ‘Auld Lang Syne’ is attributed to Robert Burns, who collected traditional folk songs and re-wrote the lyrics.

There are many versions of ‘Auld Lang Syne’.

One, in the archive, was written for The Masonic Lodge Burns belonged to. Another is the adaptation Burns wrote.

We noticed, on the morning of New Year’s Eve, that Dr. M. J. Grant of Edinburgh University had revealed her research on why she thinks we link arms when we sing ‘Auld Lang Syne.’ (The roots are masonic - her view is that the tradition in Masonic associations, linking arms to sing was the form)

Dr Grant’s book is available and published by OpenBook Publishers and is available to read free online.

Meanwhile, Ron Grosset, publisher of Waverley Books, gathered for us a variety of Robert Burns’ related files in the course of our work. One of which is the ‘Masonic Odes and Poems’ by Rob Morris LLD, 1864. As well as a ‘Tribute to Robert Burns’, and ‘Burns’ Farewell’, the Morris publication includes a ‘Masonic Auld-Lang-Syne’ which we thought we would share.

When Christmas was banned in Scotland (and a recipe for Yule Cake)

Christmas in Scotland had been a religious feasting day until the time of the Scottish Reformation in 1560, when Scotland split from the Catholic Church and new beliefs and practices came in to being.


In 1640, the Scottish Parliament passed a law that made celebrating ‘Yule vacations’ illegal. The Reformation abolished Christmas as the greatest festival of the Christian year. Even baking Yule bread was an offence. Christmas was frowned upon in Scotland for a long time, which is why Hogmanay and New Year celebrations in Scotland became important. 25 December didn’t become a Scottish public holiday until 1958.

Previously, Yule bread had been a tradition for hundreds of years across the British Isles, as Yule was a pagan tradition, and part of the 12 day festival in winter that began with the winter solstice. Yule festivities were observed and practiced in Germanic nations and northern Europe. The ancient Celtic practice of bringing in a living tree to the home to bless it. Bringing in misletoe was also a tradition to praise nature.

Inside Central Station - BBC Scotland launches its 4th series about Glasgow Central


‘Inside Central Station’

The BBC Scotland documentary following the staff at Glasgow Central Station is in now into its 4th series.

At the back of the station is the 4-star Glasgow's Central Hotel, now run by Voco,

Glasgow's Grand Central Hotel has been a Glasgow landmark since it opened in 1883. Queues of people for trains for Glasgow's Fair holiday in July Over its long history it has played host to show business stars such as Laurel & Hardy, and Frank Sinatra, and world leaders such as John F Kennedy and Winston Churchill. Through parties, weddings, drinks, and events, thousands of people have travelled to the hotel from all over the world, as well as Glasgow and Scotland.

The hotel, is no stranger to television – indeed it has a permanent link to Scotland’s great history of inventiveness and creativity. In 1927 the hotel hosted one of the most transformational events of the 20th century, when John Logie Baird made the first-ever long-distance television broadcast from London to a room on the fourth floor.

John Logie Baird chose the Central Hotel back in 1927 as the receiving equipment used was transported from London by train so it was a simple matter to move it from the adjoining Central Station. Just a quick walk across the concourse.

On the wider screen, in 1954, the hotel appeared in the Ealing Film Studios’ comedy, The Maggie, made by Alexander Mackendrick. Several scenes were filmed on the west coast of Scotland at Islay, and in Glasgow. The film reflects life as it was in the 1950s when Glasgow was an industrial city with a thriving riverside (and not short of few characters among its citizens!).

‘Glasgow’s Grand Central Hotel – Glasgow’s Most Loved Hotel’, by Bill Hicks and Jill Scott is published by Waverley Books, Glasgow.

The many illustrations in the book include pictures of people’s personal mementoes as well as wonderful images, old and new, documenting the development of the hotel from its beginnings in 1883 as Glasgow’s railway station hotel at Central Station to the bustling presence it has today.

The book shows how the railway and the businesses surrounding the station, including the Central Hotel, have helped shape Glasgow throughout the years.