1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Boar

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

BOAR (O. Eng. bār; the word is found only in W. Ger. languages, cf. Dutch beer, Ger. Eber), the name given to the uncastrated male of the domestic pig (q.v.), and to some wild species of the family Suidae (see Swine). The European wild boar (Sus scrofa) is distributed over Europe, northern Africa, and central and northern Asia. It has long been extinct in the British Isles, where it once abounded, but traces have been found of its survival in Chartley Forest, Staffordshire, in an entry of 1683 in an account-book of the steward of the manor, and it possibly remained till much later in the more remote parts of Scotland and Ireland (J. E. Harting, Extinct British Animals, 1880). The wild boar is still found in Europe, in marshy woodland districts where there is plenty of cover, and it is fairly plentiful in Spain, Austria, Russia and Germany, particularly in the Black Forest.

From the earliest times, owing to its great strength, speed, and ferocity when at bay, the boar has been one of the favourite beasts of the chase. Under the old forest laws of England it was one of the “beasts of the forest,” and, as such, under the Norman kings the unprivileged killing of it was punishable by death or the loss of a member. It was hunted in England and in Europe on foot and on horseback with dogs, while the weapon of attack was always the spear. In Europe the wild boar is still hunted with dogs, but the spear, except when used in emergencies and for giving the coup de grâce, has been given up for the gun. It is also shot in great forest drives in Austria, Germany and Russia. The Indian wild boar (Sus cristatus) is slightly taller than Sus scrofa, standing some 30 to 40 in. at the shoulder. It is found throughout India, Ceylon and Burma. Here the horse and spear are still used, and the sport is one of the most popular in India. (See Pig-sticking.)

The boar is one of the four heraldic beasts of venery, and was the cognizance of Richard III., king of England. As an article of food the boar’s head was long considered a special delicacy, and its serving was attended with much ceremonial. At Queen’s College, Oxford, the dish is still brought on Christmas day in procession to the high-table, accompanied by the singing of a carol.