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Why is Scotland called ‘The Land of Cakes’?

Why has Scotland been named the Land of Cakes and where did it originate from?

Scotland is known as the Land of Cakes as it is well known for Oatmeal Cakes in years gone by. This does not mean the ‘Land of Pretentious, Sparkly Cakes’ or sugar laden varieties we are familiar with today, but the simple, unsweetened cake of Oatcake, since oats were such a popular grain crop in Scotland.

Robert Burns

Robert Burns, our famous Scottish Poet used this expression in one of his many poems, which is possibly why the name ‘Land of Cakes’ has stuck around quite so long. His poetry is extremely popular throughout Scotland and over the globe, even to this day.

In the opening verse of Robert Burn’s poem ‘On the Late Captain Grose’s Peregrinations’ you can hear the line ‘Hear, Land of Cakes and Brother Scot’s, from Maidenkirk to Johnnie Groats’

Robert Fergusson

Robert Fergusson was another famous Scottish Poet who also mentioned Scotland being named ‘The Land of Cakes’ in his popular poem ‘The King’s Birthday in Edinburgh’. The verse goes ‘Oh, soldiers for your own dear sakes, for Scotland’s alias, Land of Cakes’


Scotland’s humble Oatcake was more popular than bread in years gone by. The Oatcake is much simpler to make and does not require any proving time, which may be why it became so popular, that and the access to Oat’s of course. The flat cakes made mainly from oats have for centuries been considered the Scottish national bread. There is documentation of them existing in Scotland as far back as 43 AD, and likely even before then.

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Traditional Recipe for Oatcakes

There are many methods of creating Oatcakes or cakes which contain oats. Traditionally, Scottish soldiers or Clans on the march would have only the bare essentials with them. These Oatcakes being so simple is why it remained so popular throughout Scotland. They would purely mix the oats with some water, much like a porridge. Once this was mixed and possibly allowed the oats to soften a little and absorb some of the water. They would put the mixture onto a pan over the fire and allow the Oatcake to crisp up under the heat. That was it, nothing fancy, easy to make and practical. 

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