Recipes from Scotland 1680s to 1940s


Forks on the table

In medieval Britain, food might be spooned out of a dish or speared on knives if not eaten with the fingers or off chunks of bread.

Forks for use by individual diners were brought to London in the early 1600s by Thomas Coryat, an Englishman returning from Italy.

Although some thought them unnecessary, forks were gradually adopted by polite society.

Forks made eating solids such as vegetables easier. Their use led to a greater separation between liquid and solid foods.

Equal numbers of forks and knives began to appear on the dining tables of wealthy Scots from the 1660s.

This bill of 1702 from Edinburgh goldsmith Robert Bruce to Lady Doune includes a dozen expensive knives and forks.

Handwritten bill for items including cutlery

Bill of Robert Bruce, Goldsmith, Edinburgh, to Katherine, Lady Doune, 1702. By permission of the Countess of Sutherland. [Library reference: Dep.313/555]