DCSIMG

Scottish word of the week: Tattie-bogle

A colourful tattie-bogle keeps watch on the Isle of Tiree. Picture: Ian Rutherford

A colourful tattie-bogle keeps watch on the Isle of Tiree. Picture: Ian Rutherford

SCARECROWS seem as old as time itself. These ramshackle mannequins have protected farmers’ crops for centuries, and were widely used across Britain’s countless acres of arable land to ward against birds.

In Berkshire, the name for a scarecrow is a hodmedod; in Somerset, a Mommet; a mawkin in Sussex. Scotland has perhaps the quirkiest regional variation of all - the tattie-bogle.

The tattie part is easy enough to decipher. Potato farming was widespread across Scotland, so much so that it was one of the country’s main sources of sustenance. Little needs said about the devastation the Highland potato blight brought in the 19th century, or the Irish potato famine.

Bogle refers to a spiritual being or the subject of a folk tale. The scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz is an obvious literary example, but it does not take a great leap of the imagination to see the link between scarecrows and spectral figures.

Despite that, it would be hard to think in all seriousness that anything with a name as daft as a tattie-bogle would be frightening. William Soutar’s irreverent poem on the tattie-bogle from 1943 confirms as much:

The tattie-bogle wags his airms:

Caw! Caw! Caw!

He hasna onie banes or thairms:

Caw! Caw! Caw!

We corbies wha hae taken tent,

And wamphl’d round, and glower’d asklent,

Noo gang hame lauchin owre the bent:

Caw! Caw! Caw!

 

Comments

 
 

Back to the top of the page