Scotland, with its temperate climate and profusion of indigenous game species, has provided a cornucopia of food for its inhabitants for millennia. The wealth of seafood available on and off the coasts provided the initial settlers with their nourishment. Agriculture was introduced, with primitive oats quickly becoming the staple.
In common with many medieval European neighbours, Scotland was a feudal state for the greater part of the second millennium. This put certain limitations on what one was allowed to hunt, therefore to eat. In the halls of the great men of the realm, one could expect venison, boar, various fowl and songbirds, expensive spices (pepper, cloves, cinnamon, etc.), in addition to the meats of domesticated species. From the journeyman down to the lowest cottar, meat was an expensive commodity and could be consumed infrequently. For the lower echelons of Medieval Scots, it was the products of their animals as opposed to the beasts themselves which provided nourishment. This is evident today in traditional Scottish fare, its emphasis on dairy produce. It would seem that the typical meal would consist of a pottage of herbs and roots, (and when available some meat or stock for flavouring) bread and cheese when possible.
Before Sir Walter Raleigh's introduction of the potato to the British Isles, the Scots main sources of carbohydrate was gained from bread made from oats or barley. Wheat was generally difficult to grow because of the damp climate. Food thrift was evident from the earliest times, with excavated middens displaying little evidence of anything but the toughest bones. All parts of an animal were used.
The mobile nature of Scots society in the past required food that may not spoil quickly. It was common to carry a tiny bag of oatmeal that could be transformed into a basic porridge or oatcakes using a girdle (griddle). It is theorised that Scotland's national dish, haggis, originated in the same way: A small amount of offal or low-quality meat, carried in the most economical bag available, a sheep or pig's stomach. It has also been suggested that this dish was introduced by Norse invaders who were attempting to preserve their food during the long journey from Scandinavia.