Our Oatcake Heritage

Heritage Image

Back in 1896 John and Sarah Nairn established a village bakery in Strathaven, Lanarkshire producing traditional oatcakes from local Scottish oats. John Nairn delivered the bakery’s bounty to local grocers and merchants while Sarah supervised in the bakery. She wanted to be sure that the oatcakes that left the Nairn’s bakery were as good as the ones that she produced in her own kitchen.

The original bakery was lost to a fire but the Nairn’s family business prospered and grew. Now based in Edinburgh, we have retained the original Nairn’s family principles of producing wholesome, traditional oatcakes as naturally as possible.

While the founding Nairns might be surprised at the breadth of our range, we think that they would be proud of the company today. We’ve become a household name, taking the naturally energising properties of oats and delivering them in versatile, delicious products which help you get the most out of your day.

Oatcakes have been sustaining us for a very long time. Being made almost exclusively of oats, the only cereal to flourish in the northern Scottish climate, they’re widely considered to be ‘the bread of Scotland’. Recipes for these versatile little cakes were handed down from generation to generation for centuries.

Traditionally each Scottish community had its own mill to grind the oats grown at the local crofts which would provide oatmeal for each household. We know that oats, in the form of oatcakes and porridge, were very much the staple diet of the Highlanders.

Sadly there’s no official authentication of when the oatcake was first created. It is known though that it was common practice, as far back as the 14th century, for the Chieftain and the rest of his clan to travel with a small sack of oatmeal. Using their shields as iron plates they baked oatcakes made from their oatmeal and water over the campfire. There’s evidence to suggest too that even the Romans baked oatcakes while they were in Scotland.