A 28cm (11 inches) spurtle, with decorated end resembling a Scottish thistle
The spurtle (or "spurtel", "spurtil", "spirtle" or "spartle") is a wooden Scottish kitchen tool, dating from the fifteenth century, that is used to stir porridge, soups, stews and broths.
The rod-like shape means that porridge can be stirred without congealing and forming lumps, unlike a spoon that would have a dragging effect during stirring, and the low surface area reduces the chances of porridge sticking to the instrument.
Spurtles are made from wood, including beech (in the UK), cherry wood (in the US) and maple (in Canada). They come in a range of sizes. Traditional spurtles have thistles at the top, while modern ones often have a smooth taper.
The custom is that a spurtle should be used to stir in a clockwise direction with the right hand.
Early spurtles were flat, wooden or metal instruments, with long handles and flat blades. The spatula-like utensils, known as 'Couthie Spurtle's, can be used for flipping oatcakes or making pancakes - but not for making porridge.