User:Thryduulf/local history gloassary

This is a list of words copied from b:A Researcher's Guide to Local History Terminology to show which words are in Wiktionary already and which are not. Note there is sometimes more than one word on a line.

Redlinks should be checked to see if they meet the CFI before being added - check also for correct spelling, hyphenation, spacing and capitalisation. Blue links should be checked to see if the meanings are already in Wiktionary, if they aren't then they should be verified before being added.


Words that have been verified as already present or added should be struck not removed. If capitalisation/spelling/etc of links is wrong, please change them.

A WordsEdit


  • abecediary - the full alphabet carved in stone in churches, on paper, etc. Generally considered to be teaching aids, but particularly to the illiterate, the alphabet may have been thought to posses supernatural powers along the lines of the runic futhork. Each letter would have had a symbolic meaning to the devout. An example from the Church of St Mary of the Grey Friars was found in Dumfries, Scotland, in 1967. [1]
  • abstracted multure - tenants who failed to bring their corn to the mill of the thirl could be sued for this.
  • acre - the English 'statute acre' is 4840 square yards, the 'Scots acre' was somewhat larger. In medieval times shape mattered more than size. An acre was an oblong shaped portion of land, either straight sided or sinuous, with a length of 220 yards and a width of 22 yards, giving a ratio of 10 : 1. It was variable in size, but was regarded as the area of land that one man could plough in one day.[2]
  • advocate - a person who pleads, intercedes, or speaks for another. It also means a person whose profession is to plead causes in courts of law. This is especially the use in Scotland. In the USA it means any lawyer. To advocate, means to speak in favour of an idea.
  • aedicule - the framing of a window or opening by columns topped with a pediment so that it resembles a temple facade in miniature.
  • ague - an acute fever. In late Middle English a malarial fever with cold, hot, and sweating stages (at first especially the hot stage, later especially the cold). From the late 16th century could also mean any shivering fit.
  • air vent - any of a wide variety of holes in farm buildings which allow ventilation and prevent crops inside getting damp and mouldy. This can result in quite complex brickwork patterns; very visible and distinctive.
  • airey - variant of "area".
  • aisle - a side extension to the nave of a church. Churches could be enlarged by having arches pierced through the existing side walls.
  • alb - a long white garment worn by priests, etc. under the chasuble.
  • all & haill - 'all and whole'. Found in legal documents.
  • almoner - Christian religious functionaries whose duty was to distribute alms to the poor.
  • alms - the charitable donation of money or food to the poor.
  • almshouse - a charitable home for those in need. Usually set up or endowed by a wealthy benefactor.
  • antiburgher - a member of a section of the Secession Church which in 1747 separated from the other party in that Church (the Burghers) on the question of taking the Burgess oath. The two sections were reunited in 1820.
  • apocryphal - a piece of work where the authenticity or authorship is in doubt.
  • apothecary - a chemist licensed to dispense medicines and drugs.
  • appendix - additional or supplementary material generally located at the end of a book or piece of work; article, etc.
  • arable - land which is ploughed or suitable for ploughing for growing crops.
  • archive - a place in which historical documents and other records are preserved. Usually operated by large organizations, they may or may not be open to the public.
  • area - (architecture) a basement level lightwell in front of Georgian period houses.
  • armorial - relating to heraldry or coats of arms.
  • artificer - a craftsman.
  • ashlar - dressed stone work of any type of stone. Ashlar blocks are large rectangular blocks of masonry sculpted to have square edges and even faces.
  • assignation - to legally make over property, etc (Legal).
  • asylum - Latin from Greek for refuge. It entered English with the special meaning of a place of safety where criminals or political dissidents could escape the law. By the early 18th century it had its general meaning of a place of refuge, being applied to institutions by the mid 18th century. Through into the mid 19th century or later, however, there were other asylums than lunatic asylums, "orphan asylums" for example.
  • astricted - thirled or bonded to a particular mill (Legal).
  • atavism - a science word, coined from Latin for "beyond one's grandfather", meaning a reversion of animals (including humans) or plants to an ancestral type. Word coined by Antoine Nicolas Duchesne (1747-1827) in relation to strawberries (about 1766)as in degeneration theory.
  • auchan - also 'Auchen' - a variety of Pear (Scots). Old Auchans near Dundonald is famous for it's own variety of pear.
  • aught - also 'Ought' - anything at all.
  • aumbrey - also aumbry. A wall recess; sometimes as a cupboard for food. Often found in churches, chapels, etc. for keeping the sacramental vessels, etc.
  • aureole - a halo or circle of light or enclosed area, especially around the head or body of a portrayed religious figure.
  • autographed - any document carrying the signature of the person who wrote it.
  • autographed letter - a letter which is handwritten.
  • aw - a flat-board of an undershot water-wheel.

B WordsEdit

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


  • bailey - the courtyard or courtyards that existed around a motte.
  • baillie - a local official. Equivalent to an Alderman. A Baron's deputy in the context of a Barony.
  • bal - noise; uproar; merriment (Scots).
  • ballista - a siege engine which fired smaller stones, heavy arrows and iron bolts. Tensile power was supplied by twisting ropes with windlasses.[3]
  • bannock - in the context of Mills, a payment to a servant amounting to a handfull of meal, ina ddition to that given as knaveship. Also a type of Scottish or Manx bread.
  • barbican - a forward defensible structure jutting out or set in front of the main part of a castle's defences or walls. In many cases the barbican formed part of the castle gatehouse complex
  • barmikan - also barmkin. Originally a livestock enclosure, later a legal term for the walls of the inner or outer court or close of a castle, place, etc.a term used in Scotland to cover the various walled courtyards, service yards, walled gardens and orchards that spread in every direction from a house.[4]
  • barn - a building designed for threshing and storing corn.
  • baron baillie - a baillie of a barony court (Scots).
  • barony - lands held directly from the crown.
  • barr - mountain grazing attached to a specific lowland area. (Gaelic).
  • bastard - an illegitimate child. Indicated by the 'bend' sinister on armorial bearings.
  • bastle house - found along the Anglo-Scottish border, in the areas formerly plagued by border reivers. They are farmhouses, characterised by elaborate security measures against border raids.
  • baxter - a baker.
  • beck - a name for a small stream, especially in Cumbria.
  • bedlam - Bethlehem was shortened to Bedleem and Bedlem in Middle English. The hospital was nicknamed bedlam from early on. From the early 16th century, bedlam also came to mean `mad'. Shakespeare, in Henry 6th, speaks of "the bedlam brain-sick duchess" (1590s?). This use lasted to the early 18th century, but the late 16th century was already using bedlamite.
  • bedstone - the lower stone with the rind passing though it. It remains stationary.
  • bee bole - an alcove or space in which a skep for bees is kept to provide shelter.
  • beehive - an artificial home for bees.
  • beeves - also beefs, meaning cattle or a herd of cows. Common usage in 19th century writings.
  • belfry - a mobile siege tower which could be wheeled up to the walls of a castle etc. Wet hides could be hung on it to prevent fire and they had small drawbridges to allow besiegers to access the top of the walls.[5]
  • belvedere - a small round copse on a hill or knoll as part of the scenic layout of formal gardens on an estate.
  • benighted - overtaken by darkness, as used in Sir Walter Scott's Guy Mannering. Also intellectually or morally ignorant.
  • bequeath - a term appearing in a will meaning to leave or give property as specified therein to another person or organization (Legal).
  • bere - also 'Bear' - the primitive indigenous form of one-sided barley. It gave a good yield on poor soils and its straw, used for thatching, was long and strong (Scots).
  • beshrew - to curse; invoke evil upon.
  • bibliophile - a lover of books.
  • bicket - a pocket, as in place names, e.g. Bickethall (Scots).
  • biggin - a building. A general term used in Scotland, Cumbria and elsewhere in England.
  • binding - in books terms this is the cover of the book.
  • blackhouse - a traditional house which used to be common in Highland Scotland, the Hebrides & Ireland. Generally built with double wall dry-stone walls packed with earth and wooden rafters covered with turf or reed thatch. The floor was generally flagstones or packed earth and there was a central hearth for the fire. There was no chimney (Gaelic).
  • blair - a plain (Gaelic).
  • bleachfield - a bleaching works with its adjacent drying-ground. Now generally as a survival in place-names (Scots).
  • block book - a book printed from wooden blocks in which each page, both words and pictures, is carved from a single piece of wood and cannot be rearranged for subsequent use; a technique mainly employed in the mid-fifteenth century.[6]
  • bloody - it may be derived from the phrase "by Our Lady", a sacrilegious invocation of the Virgin Mary. The abbreviated form "By'r Lady" is common in Shakespeare's plays around the turn of the 17th century, and interestingly Jonathan Swift about 100 years later writes both "it grows by'r Lady cold" and "it was bloody hot walking to-day" suggesting that a transition from one to the other could have been under way.
  • blout - also 'Bloak' - an upwelling of water, a spring or a wet, damp place (Scots).
  • bodger - itinerant chair leg makers who in places like Chinnor in England would camp in the woods in the summer months in days gone by.
  • boll - also bow, 'bol', 'boill', 'boall', or 'bowl' - a measure of capacity for grain, malt, salt, etc., or sometimes of weight, varying for different commodities and in different localities (Scots).
  • bolster - “That part of a mill in which the axletree moves" (Scots).
  • bolt - a measure of fabric, stored rolled up in fixed lengths.
  • bolter - a device in a mill used for separating the flour or meal from impurities (Scots).
  • bond of surety - a written, binding agreement to perform as specified. Many types of bonds have existed for centuries and appear in marriage, land and court records of used by genealogists. Historically, laws required administrators and executors of estates, grooms alone or with others, and guardians of minors to post bonds. It is not unusual to discover that a bondsman was related to someone involved in the action before the court. If a bondsman failed to perform, the court may have demanded payment of a specified sum as a penalty (Legal).
  • bonds of manrent - a form of mutually beneficial bond of allegiance.
  • bothy - a single room for a bachelor farm worker (Scots).
  • bookplate - a pasted-in sign of ownership of a book. Many of the older bookplates were highly elaborate with engraved coats of arms, family mottoes etc. They are sometimes dated and give useful information of titles, full names, the interests of the owner, etc.
  • boor - a serf to which Norman lords often apportioned lands near to their castles, hence 'Boorland'.
  • borough - originally a town (built area larger than a village), or one that was fortified, or one that had its own internal government. Later came to mean a town that had its own self-government given to it by charter from the king or queen (a municipal borough) or which sent representative/s to parliament (a parliamentary borough). In 1845 a borough is defined as A borough, town or city corporate having a quarter sessions, recorder and clerk of the peace.
  • boss - an umbo or raised central area on a shield or buckler.
  • bour tree - a Common Elder (Scots). Often used as part of a placename, such as Bourtreehill in Irvine, Ayrshire, Scotland.
  • box bed - a bed which is boxed in; as found in cot-houses.
  • brae - a steep or sloping bank of a river, lake or shore; a steep slope rising from a water (Scots).
  • brace - a triangulating piece, usually in a timber frame.
  • brachet - a type of hound that hunts by scent; bitch-hound. Also a spoilt child.
  • brandanes - also brandini. A collective term for the natives of Arran and Bute, now archaic. Its origin may be in the name of Saint Brendan or in the bold water or spray men.[7]
  • brank - a scold's bridle, consisting of a locking metal mask or head cage that contains a tab that fits in the mouth to inhibit talking. Some have claimed that convicted common scolds had to wear such a device as a preventive or punitive measure.
  • brasses - memorials to the dead on tombs. Usually made of latten hammered into sheets and highly ornamented, with the name of the dead person, a portrait, etc.[8]
  • breastshot - a water wheel turned by water hitting it midway up.
  • brehon - an Anglicisation of breitheamh (earlier brithem), the Irish word for a judge). The Brehon laws were written in the Old Irish period (ca. 600–900 AD) and are assumed to reflect the traditional laws of pre-Christian Ireland and parts of Scotland. They are associated with the Justice or Moot Hills.
  • breike - trousers (Scots).
  • brigid or bridget - the midwife of Mary, mother of Jesus. Also a Celtic Godess.
  • broach spire - a half-pyramid of stone set at each corner of a square tower to shape the spire.
  • broadside - a single sheet printe don one side and issued by itself, used for advertisements, ballads, propaganda, etc.[6]
  • broch - an Iron Age circular stone tower, found in the Shetlands and Western coastline of Scotland.[8]
  • brock - a badger. Often used in the country. The Old-English name.
  • brook - a small stream, also brooklet.
  • buckler - a small rounded shield held by a handle. The 'Buckler fern' is so named from the resemblance of the 'spore covers' (indusia) to these shields.
  • buckram - a heavy linen cloth used in book binding. Buckram is often starched or coated with some form of protective material.
  • bulla (plural, bullae), a lump of clay molded around a cord and stamped with a seal. When dry, the container cannot be violated without visible damage to the bulla, thereby ensuring the contents remain tamper-proof until they reach their destination. Bullae from antiquity appear as a lump surrounding a dangling cord (as with much later wax bullae and Papal bulls made of lead rather than clay) or a flat, disc-shaped lump pressed against a cord surrounding a folded document (such as papyrus or vellum)
  • burin - the tool used by engravers for gouging lines on copper or steel printing plates.[6]
  • burn - a small stream (Scots).
  • burr stone (p) - a hard-waring stone, usually from France, used in the construction of millstones. Often made into sections and bound together with iron hoops.
  • bushel - a unit of dry measure/ dry volume, usually subdivided into eight local gallons in the systems of Imperial units. Used for volumes of dry commodities, not liquids, most often in agriculture.
  • butt & ben - Literally 'backwards and forwards'. A dwelling entered by a single shared fore-door with a double partition and doors to the living quarters on one side and the byre on the other. A person sitting in the living area, called the in-seat, would look 'butt to the byre' and someone in the byre would look 'ben' to the living area' (Scots).
  • buttery - a bottle store - a service room for liquid foodstuffs.
  • buttress - supports for walls, usually made of stone and sometimes crowned with a pinnacle. Flying buttresses are a variant which allowed a more delicate appearance whilst maintaining the strength of the supports.
  • butts - targets for archery. Often made from straw and placed on a wooden or basket 'woven' frame; sometimes set against an earthen mound.
  • byre - a cowshed or barn (Scots).

C WordsEdit

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


  • cadet - in genealogy, a junior branch of a aristrocratic family.
  • cadger - used in Scots as in standard English to mean a traveling hawker (chiefly of fish or Cheese in East Ayrshire ), beggar or carter.
  • caitiff - a base or despicable person, a coward.
  • calm - Limestone (Scots).
  • cambric - A finely woven white linen or cotton fabric. The etymology is obsolete Flemish kameryk, from Kameryk, Cambrai, a city of northern France. Reference is made to this material in Sir Walter Scott's Kenilworth.[9]
  • camlet - a durable, waterproof cloth, esp. for outerwear or apparel made of this material. Also to decorate (fabric, book edges, etc.) with a colorful, marbled design.
  • canon law - the ecclesiastical law of the Roman Catholic Church, is a fully developed legal system, with all the necessary elements: courts, lawyers, judges, a fully articulated legal code and principles of legal interpretation.
  • carding - the processing of brushing raw or washed fibers to prepare them as textiles.
  • carlin stone - the name Carlin was used as a derogatory term for a woman meaning an 'old hag'. It is also said to be a corruption of the Gaelic word “Cailleach”, meaning a witch or the 'old Hag', the Goddess of Winter. Several stones and places in Scotland are known by this name (Scots).
  • cart - a strong vehicle with two or four wheels designed for carrying loads and drawn by a horse or horses.
  • cartshed - a building for housing carts, waggons, ploughs, harrows and other farm machinery.
  • carved stone balls - tennis ball sized balls with a variable number of protruding knobs. Mostly thought to date from the Late Neolithic and almost always found in Scotland. Their function is unknown.
  • cathedral close - an enclosure pertaining to a cathedral in which such as staff housing and maintenance facilities are sited.
  • caudel - a warm drink consisting of wine or ale mixed with sugar, eggs, bread, and various spices, sometimes given to ill persons. The etymology is from the Middle English caudel, from Medieval Latin caldellus, from Latin caldum, hot drink, from caldus, calidus, warm, hot.
  • causeymaker - a street or lane maker; a layer of cobblestones.
  • cautioner - one who acts as surety for another, thereby undertaking to be liable for the default of another, or for his appearance in court, payment of a fine, etc. (Scots).
  • cellarium - a storehouse, such as in an abbey.[10]
  • cereal - any plant which produces grain.
  • chaff - also bran, the husk of a cereal seed, removed during from the flailed grain by winnowing.
  • chaeatabeastie - the mill-dust, mixed with husks and sold as an animal feed. The story of a pig's death from being over fed with milldust is in Dr. Duguid's book (Service 1887).
  • chained library - old libraries in which the books and manuscripts were attached to the bookcases by short chains so as to allow actual reading but detering theft. Hereford Cathedral and the Bodlean still have such libraries.
  • chain lines - the vertical lines seen in a sheet of handmade paper, usually about 2cm apart, which hold the wires in place in paper moulds.[11]
  • chancel - the part of a Christian church near the altar, reserved for the clergy, the choir, etc. They are usually enclosed by a screen or seperated from the nave by steps.
  • chantry chapel - endowed by rich parishioners, these would have a separate altar where priests would have said prayers for the souls of the benefactor and his family. These were often located in the transepts.
  • chapter-house - the building in an abbey, minster, etc. where the business aspects of the religious community were conducted.[10]
  • chase - Chiefly British. a private game preserve; a tract of privately owned land reserved for, and sometimes stocked with, animals and birds to be hunted. Used as an element in English place names.
  • chasuble - a highly decorative cloak worn by a priest over the white undergarment, the alb.
  • cheese-brizer - a cheese press (Scots).
  • cheese-stane - a large, heavy stone, worked with a screw, for pressing cheese (Scots).
  • chesset - originally the oak wood container banded with iron hoops into which slated curd was placed to press it and shape it (Scots).[12]An example at Dalgarven Mill, North Ayrshire in Scotland has a thick wooden sides and is perforated at the bottom. It is strengthened with metal hoops.
  • chi rho - an early Christian symbol or monogram made from the first two Greek letters of Christ's name.[13]
  • chiromancy - palmistry. Read the palm to determine the future; as practiced by Gypsies, etc.
  • chromolithography - a method of printing in colours by the process of lithography.[11]
  • cist - also kist a small stone slab-built coffin-like box or ossuary used to hold the bodies of the dead, especially during the Bronze Age in the British Isles and occasionally in Native American burials.
  • citadel - a term for a fortress or keep.
  • clap - the form or lair of a hare or rabbit (Scots).
  • clapp & happer - an expression used in milling, meaning the whole mill - 'The paddles on the water wheel and the grain hoppers' (Scots).
  • clerestory - the windowed top of a nave in a church. Certain early Victorian railway coaches had a similar top structure and were named clerestory coaches.
  • coat of arms - the heraldic bearings or shield of a person, family or corporation.
  • cobbled - surfaces such as roads and floors covered with small rounded stones or cobbles.
  • codex the standard book format, with folded flat sheets stitched along one edge to bind the sheets together,[11] also an ancient volume of manuscript, such as those surving from the Aztec civilisation.
  • codices - plural of codex
  • codger - an old or strange person. May be derived from 'Cadger'.
  • codicil - a supplement or addition to a will; not intended to replace an entire will (Legal).
  • cogswounds - an expression meaning God's Wounds, now archaic. A character in Sir Walter Scott's 'Kenilworth' uses this expression. It is an example of a word which has had a consonant altered.
  • collateral line - a line of descent connecting persons who share a common ancestor, but are related through an aunt, uncle, cousin, nephew, etc.
  • colophon - an identifying inscription or emblem from a printer or publisher appearing at the end of a book. Also the emblem at the bottom of the spine on both a book and its dust-wrapper as well as the logo on the title or copyright page.
  • combine harvester - a mobile machine that reaps, threshes and bales.
  • commendam - also commendator. The origins of the practice can be found in the Early Middle Ages when temporarily unoccupied church property (ecclesiastical benefice) would be temporarily entrusted to the protection of a member of the church, to safeguard it until order was restored and a new permanent holder of the position was granted in titulus. The safeguarder would receive any revenues generated from the property in the meantime. An example would be that of Kilwinning Abbey, Ayrshire, Scotland which was placed in the hands of a Commendator after the reformation.
  • commendator - see commendam
  • common law - the traditional code of law in England, dating from the Middle Ages and supplemented by legal decisions over the centuries. Not written down in any one place. Often contrasted with statute laws passed by Parliament.
  • commutation - exchange or substitution.
  • coney - an adult rabbit.
  • consanguinity - the degree of relationship between persons who descend from a common ancestor. A father and son are related by lineal consanguinity, uncle and nephew by collateral sanguinity.
  • conventicle - an illegal meeting of Presbyterian covenanters (Scots).
  • conveyance - a legal document by which the title to property is transferred; warrant; patent; deed (Legal).
  • coppice - a traditional method of woodland management in which young tree stems are cut down to a low level. In subsequent growth years, many new shoots will emerge and after a number of years the cycle begins again and the coppiced tree, or stool, is ready to be harvested again.
  • coracle - small boats made of flexible twigs, such as willow, and then covered with animal hides and sewn together with leather thongs. They were used before the Romans arrived and continue to be used in parts of Wales for fishing, such as in the rivers Teifi and Tywi.[14]
  • corbel - a projection from a wall-plane intended to support a structure above.
  • cordon sanitaire - a guarded line between two areas, such as the border between Scotland and England prior to the Act on Union.
  • corn - any cereal before or after harvesting.
  • cornage - an ancient tenure of land, which obliged the tenant to give notice of an 'invasion' by blowing a horn.[15]
  • cornice - a horizontal ornamental moulded projection around the top of a building. Keeps the rain of the walls.
  • cothouse or cot - a dwelling with or without land attached. A tied cottage to a farm labourer and his family (Scots).
  • cottage ornee - a type of 'Summer House' or 'Cottage orne' from the early development of country estates, early 18th century. Aiton gives the following description of such a building, saying that "Near to the gardens, in a remote corner, more than half encircled by the river, a remarkably handsome cottage has been reared, and furnished, under the direction of Lady Jean Montgomery, who has contrived to unite neatness and simplicity, with great taste, in the construction of this enchanting hut. That amiable lady, spends occasionally, some part of her leisure hours, about this delightful cottage: viewing the beauties, and contemplating the operations of nature, in the foliage of leaves, blowing of flowers, and maturation of fruits; with other rational entertainments, which her enlightened mind is capable of enjoying."
  • cottar - a tenant or villein.
  • cotte - woman’s or child’s petticoat; a skirt.
  • cottown - Also 'cottoun' - a group of cottages (Scots).
  • county or shire - an English administrative district, uniting several smaller districts called hundreds, ruled jointly by an ealdorman and sheriff, who presided in the shire-moot. Moot Hall or Mote House became the name for what we now call a Town Hall (See 1890 romanticisation by William Morris). The Normans (from 1066) continued to rule England in shires, using Anglo-French counté, Anglo-Latin comitatus to describe them. These words were absorbed into English as county.
  • cousin german - having the same grandparents on the Father's side.
  • covenanter - a person who had signed or was an adherent to the 'National Covenant of the Solemn League and Covenant' in 17th. century Scotland, in support of Presbyterianism (Scots).
  • coxcomb - a conceited dandy who is overly impressed by his own accomplishments; a cap worn by court jesters; adorned with a strip of red syn: cockscomb.
  • crenellate, license to - Royal permission was necessary for the fortification of dwellings. Later thios became more a matter of the craetion of impressive apparent, rather than real fortifications.[16]
  • crinoline - originally a stiff fabric with a weft of horse-hair and a warp of cotton or linen thread. The fabric first appeared around 1830.
  • crock - an earthenware jar which was historically used for the storage of butter or other food items. Dalgarven Mill, North Ayrshire in Scotland has a good collection. The expression 'Crock of gold' in relation to the supposed treasure at the end of a rainbow refers to this type of pot.
  • crockets - clumps of carved foliage on pinnacles, etc. Usually found on Christian churches.
  • croft - a fenced or enclosed area of land, usually small and arable with a crofter's dwelling thereon (Scots).
  • cromlech - also known as 'dolmens' or quoits', are a type of single-chamber megalithic tomb, usually consisting of three or more upright stones (megaliths) supporting a large flat horizontal capstone. Mostly dating from the early Neolithic period in Britain (4000 BC to 3000 BC). They were usually covered with earth or smaller stones to form a barrow, though in most cases that covering has weathered away or removed for drystone dyking, etc.
  • crop - the produce of cultivated plants, especially cereals.
  • crop rotation - growing different crops on the same field each year to prevent the build up of pest species, etc.
  • crowstep - Also 'Corbie-step'. rectangular stones forming the gable of a building, each one stepped back from the one below.
  • cruck - curved timber, used in pairs to form a bowed A-frame which supports the roof of a building independently of the walls.
  • crupper - a leather strap fastened to the saddle of a harness and looping under the tail of a horse to prevent the harness from slipping forward; the rump or buttocks of a horse or armour for the rump of a horse.
  • cudrun - a Scottish unit of measurement for cheese. It is not known what the measure was.[17]
  • cup and ring mark stone - these are a form of prehistoric art found predominantly in the upland parts of the British Isles but also in some parts of continental Europe. They consist of a concave depression, no more than a few centimetres across, pecked into a rock surface and often surrounded by concentric circles also etched into the stone. Sometimes a linear channel called a gutter leads out from the middle.
  • cupping - drawing blood by applying a heated cup to the scarified (scratched) skin. Also called wet cupping. The practice as a treatment for disease is old and found in different cultures.
  • curling - a precision team sport similar to bowls or bocce, played on a rectangular sheet of prepared ice by two teams of four players each, using heavy polished granite curling stones which players slide down the ice towards a target area called the house. Points are scored for the number of stones that a team has closer to the center of the target than the closest of the other team's stones.
  • curmudgeon - a crusty irascible cantankerous person, usually old, full of stubborn ideas. Deriving from the 16th-century, origins unclear.
  • curtilage - the land and structures on property which immediately surround the residence.

D WordsEdit

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


  • dairy - where milk was made into butter and cheese. In earlier times demand for milk as a drink was quite low as it went off quickly in the absence of refrigerators.
  • dalmatic - a highly decorative cloak worn by a Deacon over his white alb.
  • dandiprat - a little fellow; - in sport or contempt. Also a small coin. King Henry VII issued a small coin denomination nicknamed a dandiprat.
  • davy Dust - a name for powdered limestone used to 'dampen down' coal dust in mines.[18]
  • damask - a fabric of silk, wool, linen, cotton, or synthetic fibers, with a pattern formed by weaving. Today, it generally denotes a linen texture richly figured in the weaving with flowers, fruit, forms of animal life, and other types of ornament.
  • dean - a wooded hollow or valley (Anglo-Saxon).
  • debateable land - specifically an area of the Scotland and England Border which was not properly delineated until the construction of the Scots Dyke following arbitration by the French.
  • deckle edges - a term for uncut or untrimmed edges on a book.
  • deed - a document transferring ownership and title of property (Legal).
  • delirium- a mental state with incoherent speech, hallucinations, restlessness and excitement which resulted from either illness or alcohol. febrile delirium is delirium caused by fever.
  • demesne - all the land, not necessarily all contiguous to the castle, that was retained by the lord for his own use as distinguished from that "alienated" or granted to others as tenants. Initially the demesne lands were worked on the lord's behalf by villeins or by serfs, in fulfillment of their feudal obligations.
  • dentelle - the decorated edge of the leather which a book binder brings over the boards from the outside of the binding. Also called the turn in.[11]
  • diablotin - an 'imp'; a small devil or wicked spirit.
  • dirk - a long dagger as formerly worn by Scottish Highlanders. A fine example is the Campbell Dirk which belonged to Sir John Campbell, the adviser to William III over the Massacre of Glencoe.[19]
  • disponed - to make over or convey legally (Legal).
  • dissenter - name given a person who refused to belong to the established Church of England.
  • divot - a piece of earth, a turf (Scots).
  • doctrine - a principle of political or religious belief.
  • dog tooth - a type of ornamentation in the moulding of an arch; typically found in churches and some castles.
  • dolmen - also known as cromlechs or quoits, are a type of single-chamber megalithic tomb, usually consisting of three or more upright stones (megaliths) supporting a large flat horizontal capstone. Mostly dating from the early Neolithic period in Britain (4000 BC to 3000 BC). They were usually covered with earth or smaller stones to form a barrow, though in most cases that covering has weathered away or removed for drystone dyking, etc.
  • donjoun - a fortified building or castle.
  • doocot - Scots for a dovecote. A shelter with nesting holes for domesticated pigeons, originally kept as a source of food (especially in winter) and later for appearances sake.
  • dool tree or dule tree - a tree used for executions and as a gibbet in connection with the feudal rights of 'pit and gallows' held by local barons and other such representatives of the crown (Scots). In England known as a Gallows-Tree
  • doric order - One of the three orders or organisational systems of Ancient Greek or classical architecture which stood on the flat pavement of a temple without a base, their vertical shafts fluted with pararell concave grooves topped by a smooth capital that flared from the column to meet a square abacus at the intersection with the horizontal beam that they carried.
  • dowager - a widow holding property or a title received from her deceased husband; title given in England to widows of princes, dukes, earls, and other noblemen.
  • dower - a legal provision of real estate and support made to the widow for her lifetime from a husband's estate, as in 'Dower House' (Legal).
  • dowry - also 'dowery' - land, money, goods, or personal property brought by a bride to her husband in marriage.
  • dressing stones - preparing the surface of the millstone for grinding.
  • drum - along narrow ridge or knoll, “applied to little hills, which rise as backs or ridges above the level of the adjacent ground”
  • dry-goose - a ball of extra finely ground meal, wetted until it could be patted and rolled into a round shape, then roasted in the hot ashes from a mill kiln (Scots).
  • dry multure - the multure that a tenant had to pay, whether it was ground or not (Scots).
  • dryster - someone who attends to a kiln at a mill.
  • du - also 'dubh' - black or dark (Gaelic).
  • dule tree or dool tree - a tree used for executions and as a gibbet in connection with the feudal rights of 'pit and gallows' held by local barons and other such representatives of the crown (Scots).
  • dun - also 'Doon' or 'Dum' - a stronghold or hill-fort (Gaelic).
  • dunlop Cheese - a mild cheese or 'sweet-milk cheese' which resembles a soft Cheddar cheese in texture. It originates in Dunlop, Ayrshire, Scotland and was first made in south western Scotland in the 18th century (Scots).
  • dunter - also known as a powrie or red cap, is a type of malevolent murderous goblin, elf or fairy found in British folklore. They inhabit ruined castles found along the border between England and Scotland. Redcaps are said to murder travelers who stray into their homes and dye their hats with their victims' blood (from which they get their name (Scots).
  • dur - also 'der' - water (Gaelic).
  • dutch Barn - a farm building which is completely open on one or more sides and supported by brick or stone pillars or cast-iron or steel piers.
  • dyke - in geology an intrusion or band of hard stone, usually igneous, often running for miles and eroded very slowly in relation to softer rocks (Scots).
  • dyke - a stone wall. In England it can mean a ditch. prior to this enclosure of land the cattle were free to mix without much control from the farmer and establishing or maintaining a 'pure breed' was therefore practically impossible. The development of superior breeds of cattle therefore depended upon the enclosure of pastures.
  • dysentery - formerly this disease was very prevalent in the UK, but in the present day it is practically confined to hot climates. Soil contaminated with excremental matters is one of the most important contributing conditions essential to the occurrence of dysentery. The infectivity of bacillary dysentery lies in the stools.

E WordsEdit

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


  • ea - also 'Ey' - an island (Anglo-Saxon).
  • earth House - also fogou, pict's house or souterrain.
  • easter - the more easterly of two places, buildings or other things (Scots).
  • ecclesiastical - pertaining to the church or the clergy.
  • ecclesiastical benefice - a church property.
  • elephant folio - the watermark on paper used in a book which is about 23 inches tall; therefore named after the watermark.
  • embroidery - an ancient variety of decorative needlework in which designs and pictures are created by stitching strands of some material on to a layer of another material. See also: Machine embroidery.
  • emparkation - the creation of a park with its associated pale.
  • enceinte - the main enclosing or curtain-wall of a fortification.
  • encomium - a formal or high-flown expression of praise. An example is that of the praise often heaped upon a person at their death.
  • enfilade - where all the rooms in a dwelling open one into the next so that you can see from one end through to the other.
  • entail - to entail is to restrict the inheritance of land to a specific group of heirs, such as an individual's sons. The Scottish form 'tailyie' became obsolescent in the mid. 18th c.; the law books favour the spelling tailzie. (Legal).
  • enumeration - a list of people, as in a census.
  • ephemera - something which disappears quickly. A word from the Greek ephemeron, covering items which are easily lost to the historical record, such as manifestos, programs, tickets, posters, broadsides, etc.
  • erenagh - person responsible for upkeep of church property. {Gaelic].
  • erotic - about sexual love came from French into English in the mid- 17th century, but erotical was a rare earlier form. eros Latin from Greek name for the god of love also a word for sexual love: Entered English in the late 17th century. Erogenous and erotogenic, meaning capable of arousing sexual feeling.
  • errata - mistakes or errors ina publication; generally recorded as an errata slip laid into a book by a publisher who has discovered errors just prior to publication.
  • escutcheon - the term used in heraldry for the shield displayed in a coat of arms. An inescutcheon is a smaller escutcheon borne within a larger escutcheon.
  • estate - this comprises the houses, outbuildings, supporting farmland and woodland policies that surround the gardens and grounds of a very large property, such as a country house or mansion. It is an "]]estate]]" because the profits from its produce and rents are sufficient to support the household in the house at its center. Thus "]]the estate]]" may refer to all other cottages and villages in the same ownership as the mansion itself.
  • et al - "and others."
  • et ux - "and wife."
  • executor - a male appointed by a testator to carry out the directions and requests in his or her will, and to dispose of the property according to his testamentary provisions after his or her death (Legal).
  • executrix - a female appointed by a testator to carry out the directions and requests in his or her will, and to dispose of the property according to the testamentary provisions after his or her death (Legal).
  • exigent - requiring much; exacting; urgent or pressing.
  • ex-libris - a bookplate printed with the owner's name or initials. It is Latin for "From the library of ...".
  • extents - documenting in a thorough but not exhaustive fashion the details of the lands held by aristocrats, the church, etc. Not common in Scotland, but a frequent practice in England. They are often entitled the 'Black Book of ....' and have echoes of the Doomsday Book.

F WordsEdit

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


  • facsimile - an exact reproduction, by photography or by typographic or manuscript imitation, of an original leaf or book. The 'Doomsday Book' and the 'Book of Kells' would be examples of items reproduced as facsimiles[11].
  • fallow - ploughed and harrowed land left uncultivated for a year.
  • farina - the flour or meal of cereals, nuts, or starchy roots such as potatoes.
  • farm - In the Latin of medieval Europe, firma was a fixed payment. Our farm (agricultural) derives from paying rent for land. Farm (and especially "farm out") also had the meaning (from the mid-17th century) of subcontracting a job for a fee. In particular, the care of people, or the maintenance of an institution (workhouse for example) in which they were kept, for a fixed fee.
  • fauld - a field which is manured by keeping sheep or cattle on it.[20] Rarely manure from other livestock, such as pigeons droppings from a dovecot at Kilmaurs in Ayrshire. Pigeons produce considerable amounts of manure as any city dweller will know! (Scots).
  • feckless - feeble; ineffective.
  • feeble-minded - such people were neither idiots nor imbeciles, but if adults, their condition was so pronounced that they require care, supervision, and control for their own protection or the protection of others. If children of school age, their condition wasso pronounced that they by reason of such defectiveness appear to be personally incapable of receiving proper benefit from instruction in ordinary schools.
  • fee simple - an inheritance having no limitations or conditions in its use (legal).
  • feeing market - the market at which the hiring of farm workers took place.
  • fell - a mountain (Scandinavian).
  • feme sole - an unmarried woman or a married woman with property independent of her husband (Legal).
  • fermee ornee - a country estate laid out partly according to aesthetic principles and partly for farming. Ferme ornee were an expression in landscape gardening of the Romantic Movement of 18th. century Europe, i.e. a working farm, domestic animals, natural landscape joined with follies and grottoes, statuary and classical texts combined with avenued walks, flowing water, lakes, areas of light and shade, special plantings and inspirational views.
  • fermtoun - a collection of rural buildings including a farm.
  • fertilizer - any chemical added to the soil which makes it more fertile or productive.
  • festy-cock - a ball of extra finely ground meal, wetted until it could be patted and rolled into a round shape, then roasted in the hot ashes from a mill kiln. Eaten as a substitute for the cockerel and eaten at Shrovetide (Scots).
  • feu - this is an annual payment in money or in kind in return for the use of land. The crown is the first overlord or superior; the land is held by crown vassals (Lords, etc.), but they in turn may feu their land, as it is called, to others who become their vassals (Legal).
  • finial - an ornamentation above the apex of a gable which can also function as a lightning rod, and was once believed to act as a deterrent to witches on broomsticks attempting to land on one's roof. On making her final landing approach to a roof, the witch, spotting the obstructing finial, was forced to sheer off and land elsewhere.
  • fire marks - fire insurance companies of the 17th-century and later had their own fire brigades and firemen would only attempt to save a house if it was insured by their company; fire marks of lead or iron were attached to the outside of buildings in prominent positions to indicate the insurance company concerned.[21]
  • firlot - a firlot was equal to 4 pecks and the peck was equal to 4 lippies or forpets or 3 grudgies: a quarter of a bole[20] (Scots).
  • first edition - strictly speaking the first appearance of a work in book or pamphlet form; its first printing. Such books as Charles Darwin's Origin of Species command extremely high prices as first editions.
  • flagstone - a type of flat stone, usually used for paving slabs, but also for making fences or roofing.
  • flail - a wood pole with a smaller pole linked at the end via a chain or leather thong, used for threshing.
  • flax - the fiber is soft, lustrous and flexible. It is stronger than cotton fiber but less elastic. The best grades are used for linen fabrics such as damasks, lace and sheeting. Coarser grades are used for the manufacturing of twine and rope.
  • flibbertigibbet - a "chattering gossip, flighty woman," probably a nonsense word meant to sound like fast talking; as the name of a devil or fiend it dates from 1603.
  • flux or flix - from French or Latin for flow. A flowing. As well as the flowing of tides (flux and reflux) it was used for an abnormal flow from the body of blood or excrement (for example). Thus for diarrhoea and dysentery.
  • flying buttress - a buttress variant which allows a more delicate appearance whilst maintaining the strength of the supports to a wall.
  • fogou - an underground structure which is found in many Iron Age defended settlements in Cornwall. The purpose of a fogou is no longer known, and there is little evidence to suggest what it might have been. It has been conjectured that they were used as refuges, for religious purposes, or for food storage.
  • fold - an enclosure in which animals were kept, often sheep.
  • folio - a single leaf, especially the leaf of a book printed with two leaves to each quire.[11]
  • font - a structure in achurch for holding water for baptisms. Often with highly carved panels and made from wood, stone and rarely lead.
  • ford - a crossing for pedestrians and vehicles across a river where it is sufficiently shallow to permit passage across.
  • fore-edge painting - a painting executed on the fore-edges of a book held open obliquely. The edges of the closed book are then gilded so that the painting only becomes visible when the book is fanned open again.[11]
  • foreyard - the outer court.
  • forpet - a quarter of a peck; a dry goods measure containing this amount. Derived from a 'fourth part' (Scots).
  • fortalice - a small fortified dwelling or castle.
  • fox covert - these were small areas of woodland put aside for encouraging the breeding of foxes to ensure sufficient numbers for hunting. Badgers and other wildlife benefit from them.
  • foxing - irregular brown spots or stains in paper caused by chemical or metallic impurities in the original stock of paper, often aggravated by poor storage, such as moist conditions.[11]
  • freeman - a male of legal age with the right to vote, own land and practice a trade.
  • freestone - stone used in architecture for molding, tracery and other work required to be worked with the chisel. The stone is fine-grained, uniform and soft enough to be cut easily without shattering or splitting.
  • Frith stool - 'the Chair of Peace'. Frith, though now obsolete, was common enough in Anglo-Saxon English and Old German, meaning peace, security and freedom from molestation. Different forms of the word are found in the name 'Frederick' (peace-ruler) and the modem German words for peace, Friede, and churchyard, Friedhof. Many of the greater churches had such frith stools placed, as was one at Hexham Abbey, close by the high altar. Refugees in time of trouble and civil war, or wrongdoers in flight from authority and justice could claim the protection of the Church until they were assured of a full and fair trial. Anyone breaking the right to sanctuary by taking or killing a refugee within the church was liable to a fine of £96; but, if the victim reached 'the stone cathedra next to the altar, which the English call the fridstol', that breach of sanctuary was beyond pardon, and the culprit faced excommunication or death
  • frontis or frontispiece - an illustration at the beginning of a book, usually facing the title page. In some books this may be the only full print within the work.
  • fulling Mill - mills used for a finishing process on cloth.
  • futhorc - the Anglo-Saxon version of the runic alphabet.

G WordsEdit

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


  • gabardine - a tough, tightly woven fabric often used to make suits, overcoats and trousers. The fibre used to make the fabric is traditionally worsted (a woolen yarn), but may also be cotton, synthetic or mixed. The fabric is smooth on one side and has a diagonally ribbed surface on the other.
  • gable stone - carved and often colourfully painted stone tablets, which are set into the walls of buildings, usually at about 4 metres from the ground. They serve both to identify and embellish the building. They may also tell us something about its owner.
  • galletting - insertion of chips of stone into mortar between larger stones for decorative effect.
  • gallows - usually a wooden structure, sometimes a dule tree, from which a person was hung following conviction.
  • gambade - a spring or leap by a horse; a caper or antic.
  • garderobes - medieval toilets in large public buildings and castles.
  • gargoyle - carved rainwater spouts on chuches, medieval houses, etc. They were often grotesquely carved animals or humans and were in addition believed to protect the church from the Devil.
  • garret - a top floor or attic room.
  • gauffered - an engraved design on the edges of a book's covers.
  • gauger - a person who performs the duties of an exciseman (Scots).
  • gaw - the 'cut' left by a plough[20] (Scots).
  • genealogy - a term referring to the study of the history of past and present members of a particular family, which usually includes the preparation of a "family tree" or pedigree chart, showing the past and present members of the family joined together by a series of lines that help in ascertaining their relationship to each other, and the location, documentation and recording of a family history, including stories about the personal lives of individual members of the family, sometimes even including pictures of these individuals or family groups.
  • genethliac - Pertaining to nativities; calculated by astrologers; showing position of stars at one's birth. It is used in Sir Walter Scott's Waverley Novel, 'Kenilworth'.
  • georgian - of or characteristic of the times of kings George I - IV (1714 - 1830).
  • gewgaw - something gaudy and useless; trinket; bauble.
  • gibbet - a type of gallows from which a body remained hanging as a warning to others over a considerable period of time.
  • gig - a lightweight two-wheeled carriage designed to be drawn by one horse.
  • gilt edges - page edges which have been smoothed and trimmed prior to gilt or gold being applied. Often on the top edge only, the purpose being to prevent dirt from staining the most frequently handled surface; additionally to help prevent dirt getting into the book.
  • gingham - a fabric made from dyed cotton yarn.
  • girdle - a form of 'Griddle', a circular iron plate with hooped handle, suspended or placed over the fire and used for baking scones, oat-cakes, etc.
  • girnal - a chest used for storing oats or other grains or a granary[20] , such as the Girnal field on the glebe at kilmaurs in Ayrshire.
  • glacial erratics - pebbles, stones and boulders that are transported by glaciers, and deposited up to several hundred kilometres from where they originated.
  • glacis - a defensive earthwork designed to deflect cannonballs.
  • glebe - land apportioned to a minister in addition to his stipend.
  • glen - a valley (Scots).
  • gloaming - evening twilight or dusk[20] (Scots).
  • good brother - a brother-in-law.
  • good sister - a sister-in-law.
  • good son - a son-in-law.
  • gossamer - a very light, sheer, gauze-like fabric, popular for white wedding dresses and decorations.
  • gowpen - a double handful (Scots).
  • grandam - a grandmother.
  • gowan - also gown - a general name given to various wild‐flowers, such as Daisies, either yellow or white with yellow centres, e.g. various species of the Ranunculus family, such as the buttercup & meadow crowfoot (Scots).
  • gowk - In northern Europe, words like gowk, gouch, qaukr and gough were used in imitation of the cuckoo. In southern Europe words like kokkux (Greek) cucu (Latin). Cuckoo succeeded gowk in Middle English. How far back the association with foolishness and/or staring goes is not clear. Dictionaries tend to place the association in the late 16th century. T
  • graddan - a kind of coarse oat-meal made from parched grain roughly ground by hand (Scots).
  • grain - a seed of a cereal, such as wheat, maize, rye, oats, and barley.
  • granary - a building for the storage of grain. Sometimes lifted up on staddles or bricks to improve aeration and prevent rats and mice from gaining access.
  • grange - a small mansion or country house with associated farm buildings.
  • grantee - a person purchasing, buying or receiving property (Legal).
  • grape - an iron fork with three or four prongs, fitted to a handle like that of a spade, used for lifting dung, etc., or for digging (Scots).
  • grassum - the payment, amounting to a year's rent, for entering into the miller's rights under thirlage[20] (Scots).
  • grazing - grassland suitable for pasture.
  • grieve - an overseer or farm-bailiff[20]. It occurs not infrequently as a surname. (Scots).
  • grist - also groat - Corn to be ground; also, a batch of such corn (Scots).
  • grizell or grisel - The Scottish form of the first name Griselda. Very commonly used in the 19th century.
  • groats - also grist - oats after shelling of their husk in the milling process (Scots).
  • groined vault - early medieval vaults were round-arched tunnels; when two of these intersect at right-angles the meeting lines, formed by the curved planes are called groins.[22]
  • grudgie - a measure of dry goods. One third of a peck (Scots).
  • guardian - a person lawfully appointed to care for the person of a minor, invalid, incompetent and their interests, such as education, property management and investments (Legal).
  • guild - a society of a particular trade, membership of which was gained through examination. The 'Bonnet Makers Guild' in Stewarton, Ayrshire is an ancient example. The trade in question could not be carried out without membership of the guild. Usually with a dedicated guild hall.

H WordsEdit

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


  • ha-ha - a sunken fence as a type of boundary to a garden, pleasure-ground, or park, designed not to interrupt the view and to be invisible until closely approached, consisting of a trench, the inner side of which is perpendicular and faced with stone, with the outer slope face sloped and turfed.
  • habeas corpus - the legal right to a trial in a court before a judge and jury.
  • haill - Whole (Scots).
  • haddish - also huddish - a measure of grain equal to one quarter or one third of a peck; hence, a vessel holding this amount (Scots).
  • ham - old English for a village or homestead.
  • hamesucken - the crime of violently assaulting a man in his own home (Scots).
  • hamlet - a small village.
  • hand - the handwriting of a person. References are made to the characteristics of the individuals penmanship.[23]
  • happer - a basket in which the sower carries his seed (Scots).
  • harl - an external rough-cast coating on buildings made from lime, sand & gravel.
  • harp - one of the ten sections on a millstone with four furrows each, the flat surfaces, or lands lying in between (Scots).
  • harrow - a heavy metal frame with iron teeth dragged over ploughed land to break up clods, remove weeds, etc.
  • hatchment - a funeral escutcheon or armorial shield enclosed in a black lozenge-shaped frame which used to be suspended against the wall of a deceased person's house. It was usually placed over the entrance at the level of the second floor, and remained for from six to twelve months, after which it was removed to the parish church. Hatchments have now fallen into disuse, but many hatchments from former times remain in parish churches throughout Britain.
  • haugh - also hauch - a piece of level ground, generally alluvial, on the banks of a river, river-meadow land.
  • hawker - a person who travels about selling goods.
  • hay - grass mown and dried for fodder / feed.
  • headrace - a watercourse directing water to a waterwheel or turbine.[24]
  • heck - a rack for keeping fodder, often coupled with manger. 'Food and board' in modern terms (Scots).
  • heir - a person who succeeds, by the rules of law, to an estate upon the death of an ancestor; one with rights to inherit an estate (Legal).
  • heir apparent - by law a person whose right of inheritance is established, provided he or she outlives the ancestor, see also primogeniture (Legal).
  • hemp - The main uses of hemp fibre are rope, sacking, carpet, nets and webbing. Hemp is also being used in increasing quantities in paper manufacturing. The cellulose content is about 70%.
  • heraldry - pertaining to the study or use of armorial bearings.
  • heretic - a person holding an unorthodox opinion or belief contrary to accepted doctrine.
  • heritour - The proprietor of a heritable property (Scots).
  • heugh - a crag; a cliff; a glen with overhanging sides. Also s shaft in a coal pit; a hollow in a quarry (Scots).
  • histriography - the writing of history or the study of the writing of history.
  • hocktide - an ancient general holiday in England, celebrated on the second Monday and Tuesday after Easter Sunday. Hock-Tuesday was an important term day, rents being then payable, for with Michaelmas it divided the rural year into its winter and summer halves. The derivation of the word is disputed: any analogy with Ger. koch, high, being generally denied. No trace of the word is found in Old English, and hock-day, its earliest use in composition, appears first in the 12th century. The characteristic pastime of hock-tide was called binding. On Monday the women, on Tuesday the men, stopped all passers of the opposite sex and bound them with ropes till they bought their release with a small payment, or a rope was stretched across the highroads, and the passers were obliged to pay toll. The money thus collected seems to have gone towards parish expenses. Many entries are found in parish registers under Hocktyde money. The hock-tide celebration became obsolete in the beginning of the 18th century.[25]
  • holm - low lying grassland ground neaxt to a river (Scots). Equivalent to a water meadow in England.
  • holographic will - also 'olographic' - handwritten and signed by the individual that the will belongs to (Legal).
  • homeopathy - an alternative medical practice founded on resemblances. The underlying theory is that disease are cured by remedies which produce, on a healthy person, similar effects to the symptoms of the patient's complaint. "For example, someone suffering from insomnia may be given a homeopathic dose of coffee. Administered in diluted form, homeopathic remedies are derived from many natural sources, including plants, metals, and minerals.
  • hood-mould - a carved protruding ridge above a window designed to throw off the rain.
  • hopper - a temporary storage container that feeds grain to the grindstones in a mill.
  • horning - outlawed; also put to the horn
  • horse gin or engine - a mechanical device, usually made of cast-iron, with gearing that uses horse power to drive a device such as a thresher, milk-churn, etc, in a Horse mill. Donkeys or oxen were sometimes used.
  • hospice - the guest house of an abbey, monastery, etc.[10]
  • hovel - an animal house, usually a shelter shed.
  • howlet - an owl (Scots).
  • huit - a stack in a field (Scots).
  • humplock - also 'himplock', a small heap or mound in the south-west, south and north (Scots).
  • hurst - a hillock, sandbank in a river or the sea or a wooded eminence.
  • hursting - a table-like structure on which millstones are mounted.[24]
  • husk - the dry outer covering of some fruits and seeds.
  • hysteria - a state of uncontrolled excitement, anger, or panic believed to have been brought on by a disturbance in the womb (Greek hustera)

I WordsEdit

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


  • ibid - in the same book or passage etc., so 'Ibid' serves a similar purpose to 'ditto marks'.
  • ides - in the Roman calendar: the 15th of March or May or July or October or the 13th of any other month.
  • idiots - people so deeply defective in mind as to be unable to guard against common physical dangers.
  • iHS - 'Iesus Hominem Salvator' or 'Jesus the Saviour of mankind' as carved on church lecterns, etc.[1]
  • ilk - a family. As in 'of that Ilk'.
  • imbeciles - not idiots, but people who were incapable of managing themselves or their affairs, or, in the case of children, of being taught to do so.
  • incunabula - books, pamphlets, calendars & indulgences printed before 1501. American Incunabula refers to books printed prior to 1701.[6] The Latin means 'things from the cradle'. The singular should be incunabulum, but most people say incunable.[23]
  • indentured servant - a person who is bound into the service of another person for a specified period, usually seven years in the 18th and 19th centuries to pay for passage to another country.
  • indictment - a formal accusation charging someone of a crime. Takes the form of a written document containing brief details of the accusation.
  • infirmary - a place where sick or eldery people are taken in abbeys, monasteries. etc.[10]
  • inglenook - the space within the opening on either side of a large fireplace.
  • intaglio - is a family of printmaking techniques in which the image is incised into a surface, known as the matrix or plate. Normally, copper or zinc plates are used as a surface, and the incisions are created by etching, engraving, drypoint, aquatint or mezzotint. To print an intaglio plate the surface is covered in thick ink and then rubbed with tarlatan cloth to remove most of the excess. The final smooth wipe is usually done by hand, sometimes with the aid of newspaper, leaving ink only in the incisions. A damp piece of paper is placed on top and the plate and paper are run through a printing press that, through pressure, transfers the ink from the recesses of the plate to the paper.
  • intestate - a person who dies without a will (Legal).
  • intoxicate - medical Latin from to poison. Originally meant to poison. Not until the late 16th century that it meant stupefy, madden or deprive of the ordinary use of the senses or reason with a drug or alcoholic liquor; inebriate, make drunk.
  • invenire - a word meaning the process of 'finding' or 'inventing' happy discoveries, developments and duplications of the relics of the past. An example would be the discovery of the grave of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere at Glastonbury Abbey in 1191.[2]
  • inventory - a list of the property held by a person at the time of his death; usually compiled by several court-appointed people, who submit the list to the court for approval (Legal).

J WordsEdit

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


  • jackanape - an insolent person or poorly behaved child. It is supposed to refer to the Duke of Suffolk, whose badge was an ape's clog and chain.
  • jack-O'-the-clock - a painted wooden figure with a hinged arm holding a hammer. A cord would be pulled to make the arm strike a bell to signify the start of divine service. An example at Blythburgh in Suffolk, England is 'dressed' in armour.[8]
  • jacobean - pertaining to the reign of James I of England, otherwise also known as James VI of Scotland.
  • jacobite - a supporter of the claim to the English throne of the exiled Stuart family after 1688; support for this cause.
  • jonathan - the mill-dust, mixed with husks and sold as an animal feed.
  • jougs - also 'Jugs' - a metal hoop attached to a wall by means of a chain. Used to punish various misdemeanours in the 17th. and early 18th centuries (Scots).
  • julian calendar - the calendar named for Julius Caesar and used from 45 B.C. to 1582, called the "Old Style" calendar; replaced by the Gregorian calendar with a ten day difference.
  • justice hill - a law or knoll where proclamations of the local Barony Court's judgements and sentence was carried out. For serious crimes the men were hung here and women were drowned. This situation, known as the feudal Barony right of 'pit and gallows'.
  • jute - Jute is a long, soft, shiny plant fibre that can be spun into coarse, strong threads.

It is one of the cheapest natural fibres, and is second only to cotton in amount produced and variety of uses. Jute fibres are composed primarily of the plant materials cellulose and lignin.

  • juvenis - a juvenile, minor, under legal age (Legal).

K WordsEdit

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


  • keld - a spring, fountain, head-spring.
  • kell - a spring, fountain, head-spring. Also a kiln-house in the western dialect.
  • keystone - centre stone or voussoir at the head of an arch.
  • kiln - a building or structure used to dry grain before milling.
  • kirk - a church in Scotland, usually a 'Church of Scotland' denomination (Scots).
  • kirktoun - a small village or hamlet around a kirk (Scots).
  • knave - a servant boy or menial (Scots).
  • knaveship - a servant to the miller, paid with a handful of cereal from each load milled (Scots).
  • knock - A small hill (Gaelic).
  • knockit - cereal which has rubbed and beaten free of its husks and left whole rather than ground (Scots).
  • knoll - a knowe or low rounded hill or hillock (Scots).
  • knowe - a knoll or low rounded hill or hillock[20]. Often incorporated into placename, such as 'Huttknowe', 'Broomyknowe', etc. in Ayrshire, Scotland (Scots).


L WordsEdit

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


  • labyrinth - a structure with an unambiguous through-route to the centre and back and not designed to be difficult to navigate.
  • lace-making - an ancient craft. A lace fabric is lightweight openwork fabric, patterned, either by machine or by hand, with open holes in the work. The holes can be formed via removal of threads or cloth from a previously woven fabric, but more often lace is built up from a single thread and the open spaces are created as part of the lace fabric.
  • lade - an open watercourse conducting water from a dam, weir or river to a mill wheel (Scots).
  • ladester - someone who helped with the unloading of carts and moved the sacks around a mill (Scots).
  • laid paper - previously always handmade with 'chains' and 'lines' visible, now often machine made or just pressed on.[23]
  • laigh - 'low'; or by implication, lesser or less important.[26]
  • laird - from 'Lord', a land owner (Scots).
  • laithe - a combined barn and cattle-house.
  • lancet - windows which are tall and narrow and sometimes grouped under a single arch.
  • lands - the flat surfaces between the harps on a millstone (Scots).
  • lantern pinion - the vertical drive shaft taking power off the mill wheel via cogs.
  • late - denoting someone who is deceased, ie., the late John Thomas.
  • latten - the alloy of copper and zinc often used to produce monumental brasses and other church articles, also some matrices for seals.
  • law - a small but prominent hill or burial mound[20]. A frequently part of place anmes, such as Stacklawhill, Knockinlaw, Law mount, etc. (Scots).
  • lea - also 'leigh' - see 'lye'[20] .
  • leadenhaller - someone who buys imported foxes from London's Leadenhall market to sell to fox hunters.
  • leaf - two pages.[23]
  • leat - an open watercourse conducting water from a dam, weir or river to a mill wheel.
  • leatwright - an expert in the construction of leats or lades.
  • leech - a physician or healer, because doctors used leeches to draw blood from patients.
  • legacy - property or money bequeathed to someone in a will (Legal).
  • legatee - someone who inherits money or property from a person who left a will (Legal).
  • leman - archaic for "sweetheart, paramour," from M.E. leofman (c.1205), from O.E. leof "dear" + man "human being, person." Originally of either gender, though archaic usage tends to limit it to women. Used by Sir Walter Scott in the Waverley Novel 'Kenilworth'.
  • leper stone - a bowl shaped stone filled with sour wine or vinegar into which lepers could either leave offerings of money for the church or more likely take offerings left for them. A very rare example is to be found near the church at Greystoke village, Penrith, Cumbria.
  • lessee - person leasing property from an owner (Legal).
  • lessor - owner leasing property to a tenant (Legal).
  • letters Testamentary - a court document allowing the executor named in a will to carry out his or her duties (Legal).
  • leveret - a young hare, especially in its first year of life.
  • lick of goodwill - also 'lock'. The miller's payment for grinding the cereal, etc. (Scots).
  • lien - a claim placed on property by a person who is owed money (Legal).
  • lierne vaulting - these are 'tie' ribs between any ribs springing from a supporting rib and are purely decorative.[22]
  • linn - a waterfall (Scots).
  • lint - The flax plant as just pulled or in the early stages of manufacture into yarn (Scots). *limekiln - a kiln for burning lime to produce quicklime, a fertilizer.
  • linden tree - the Old English name for the lime tree.
  • linhay - a West Country shelter shed with an open hayloft above.
  • lippie - a dry measure, normally the quarter of a peck or forpet.
  • lithograph - literally 'drawing on stone' , but used for any print taken from a flat surface.[23]
  • litster - a person who works in the dyer's trade..[27]
  • livery company - Similar to a guild.
  • livestock - the animals on a farm.
  • loan - before the enclosing of fields, a strip of grass of varying breadth would run through the arable parts of a farm and frequently it would link with the common grazing ground of the community, serving as a pasture, a driving road and a milking place for the cattle of the farm or village and as a common green (Scots).
  • local history - Local history is the study of the history of a relatively small geographic area; typically a specific settlement, parish or county.
  • lock or sequals - a payment to a miller's servant of an amount of grain that could be heaped into a pair of clasped hands (Scots).
  • lodge - a building, often ornate, at the entrance to the driveway of a country house or mansion in which the gatekeeper lived.
  • logan stone - also 'Rocking stone' - a large boulder, often a glacial erratic, which rocks when pushed. Such boulders often have associated folk legends.
  • lone - a 'lane' in Scots.
  • longhouse - a steading with the byre adjoining the farmhouse in a straight line.
  • loosebox - an enclosure in a stable where the horse is not tide up and is therfore free to move around.
  • lore - a body of tradition and knowledge on a subject or held by a particular group.
  • lorimer - A family name derived from the Middle English for the maker of bits, spurs, stirrup-irons, locks and other 'horse' furniture. The Lorimers appear in Scotland during the 12th century as land owners in the Perth area. The name is found in Midlothian in the 15th century, Stirlingshire in the 16th century and later in Dumfriesshire.
  • lovite - (legal).
  • lucam - an extension running outward from the wall of a building to allow materials to be lowered by a hoist into or taken out of boats, carts, etc. Watermills typically had these structures, such as the mill at Houghton on the River Great Ouse in England; now restored by the National Trust.[28]
  • luck or lux - a discount on a purchase in return for a cash payment.
  • lunatic - in its original Latin it was a type of periodic insanity believed to be affected by the phases of the moon (luna), but it entered English law as the term for such an unsoundness of mind as justified interfering with a person's civil rights, or considering their transactions invalid.
  • lux or luck - a discount on a purchase in return for a cash payment.
  • lye - also 'lea' or 'leigh' - pasture land[20] , often the first area cleared from a woodland is called the 'Leigh field', as at Woodway House in Teignmouth, Devon..
  • lymmares - villains or malefactors.

M WordsEdit

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


  • mace - a symbol of power and authority which developed from the war mace.[29]
  • maid - a female domestic servant.
  • maiden - a young unmarried woman.
  • maiden name - a woman's last name prior to marriage.
  • maill - tax, rent, tribute or payment a sin 'Black Mail', (Legal).
  • mains - the home farm of an estate, cultivate by or for the owner.
  • major - a person who has reached legal age (Legal).
  • majores - ancestors.
  • majority - legal age (legal).
  • mangonel - a siege engine for catapulting stones weighing up to 50 or 60 lb. each. The device had a wooden arm, pivoted in the middle of a frame, with a rope-torsioned mechanism at one end as the source of power.[3]
  • manilla - a horse-shoe shaped bracelet, made of copper or brass, used as a form of money in West Africa until around 1949.
  • manse - the dwelling of the minister, equivalent to an English vicarage (Scots).
  • mansion - a large and stately dwelling house.
  • manure - animal dung used for fertilising soil.
  • march - an estate or property boundary, from the old English Mearc a mark.
  • march tree - a tree which clearly marks a boundary. usually coppiced and then pollarded, thereby substantially increasing its longevity.
  • marginalia - handwritten notes in the margins of a page around the text. These would usually reduce the value of a book, but not in the case of the famous or the author.
  • Marian period - pertaining to the reign or time of Mary Queen of Scots and her mother, Mary of Guise, second wife of James V of Scotland. Roughly 1542 to 1568.
  • marita - a married woman, wife (Legal).
  • maritus - a bridegroom, married man (Legal).
  • marriage bond - a marriage bond is document obtained by an engaged couple prior to their marriage. It affirmed that there was no moral or legal reason why the couple could not be married. In addition, the man affirmed that he would be able to support himself and his new bride (legal).
  • marriage stone - a stone lintel carved with the initials, coat of arms, etc. of a newly married couple with the date of the marriage.
  • mash - a mixture of grains, peas, etc. given to horses.
  • mashlum - mixed grains, generally peas or oats, and the bread made from it.
  • masonic lodge - a meeting place for, or formerly for Freemasons. Lodge '0' at Kilwinnig in Ayrshire is often regarded as the mother lodge.
  • mast - the fruit of beech, oak, chestnut and other forest-trees, especially as food for pigs. The word derives from the Old English for 'meat'.
  • mast year - a season in which so many seeds have been produced that they were able to overwhelm the destructive feeding of animals, etc. Sufficient seedlings are therefore produced the following year that a generation of trees are produced, noticeable in the age structure of the wood itself.
  • maternal line - the line of descent traced through the mother's ancestry.
  • matrix - the small, usually copper, block stamped with a single letter which fits into the typefounder's mould in preparation for printing.[23] Also the latten, gold, ivory, lead or silver stamp from which a seal was produced.
  • matron - an older married woman with children.
  • maudlin - is Mary Magdalen.
  • mavis - the Song-thrush, (Turdus philomelos).
  • maze - a puzzle in the form of a complex branching passage through which the solver must find a route.
  • meal - the edible part of any grain or pulse ground to a powder.
  • medieval - also 'Mediaeval' - of, or in the syle of the Middle Ages.
  • megalith - a large, single upright standing stone (monolith or menhir), of prehistoric European origin.
  • megalithic yard - a unit of measurement used in the construction of megalithic structures. Discovered by Professor Thom.
  • melancholy - now called depression. A word from the Greek formed from joining the words for black and bile. Bile is a bitter fluid that the body uses in digestion. It was known as choler (sometimes cholera) and was one of the four body fluids (humours) thought to determine a person's physical and mental qualities. Choler made you angry. Black bile, known as choler adust is a thick black fluid thought to make one sad. The other two fluids are blood and phlegm. Phlegm made you lazy or apathetic. Blood made you brave, hopeful and amorous.
  • melder - one milling of corn, oats, etc. (Scots).
  • mendicant - a beggar; living solely on alms. Also a member of any of several orders of friars that originally forbade ownership of property, subsisting mostly on alms.
  • menhir - a large, single upright standing stone (monolith or megalith), of prehistoric European origin.
  • mensis - month.
  • mercat - a market (Scots).
  • mercer - a dealer in textiles, especially silks. The etymology is Middle English, from Old French mercier, trader, from merz, merchandise, from Latin merx, merc-, merchandise.
  • meridies - pertaining to or of the south.
  • mering - also 'meryne', 'mearing', 'mearing', 'meering' - the fixing of boundaries. In north Scotland: A strip of land marking a boundary, a ‘balk’ or ridge of uncultivated land serving as a boundary (Scots).
  • merino - the Spanish name for a breed of sheep, and hence applied to a woolen fabric.
  • merk - a land value of 2/3 of a Scot's pound or 13 1/2D. Also a measure of land (Scots).
  • metes - a measurement of distance in feet, rods, poles, chains, etc.; pertains to measuring direction and distance.
  • mezzotint - a technique of copperplate engraving in which the whole surface of the plate is roughened to print solid black and the design is made by smoothing down again to produce graded tones.[23]
  • miasma - from 1665: a noxious vapour that was thought to carry diseases. The diseases might be called (18th century on) malarias.
  • michaelmas - or the Feast of Saint Michael, is a day in the Christian calendar, taking place on 29 September. Because it falls near the equinox, it is associated with the beginning of Autumn and the shortening of days. St. Michael, one of the principal angelic warriors, was seen as a protector against the dark of night. Michaelmas has also delineated time and seasons for secular purposes as well, particularly in the United Kingdom and Ireland. *midden - a dung heap or refuse heap near to a dwelling.
  • mien - dignified manner or conduct [syn: bearing].
  • milestone - a stone or cast-iron distance marker on a turnpike, used in the calculated of the toll charge.
  • mill-bitch - a bag hung near the millstones into which a dishonest miller would slip a handful of meal now & then (Scots).
  • mill-ring - the space between the millstones and the wooden frame. This space inevitably collected meal and was enlarged by unscrupulous millers to increase the amount (Scots).
  • mill-steep - the name for the lever which was used to bring millstones closer together or further apart (Scots).
  • millstone - stones for grinding corn, etc. The upper stone is the runner and the stationary lower stone is the bedstone.
  • mill-wand - the rounded piece of wood acting as an axle with which several people would role a millstone form the quarry to the mill. The width of some roads were set at a 'mill-wand breadth'.]
  • miln - the archaic form of 'Mill', still in use in the 18th century and found in some place names, i.e. Newmilns. Still found in use in surnames.
  • milner - archaic form of 'Miller'.
  • minikin - a person or object that is delicate, dainty, or diminutive. Used by Sir Walter Scott in his Waverley novel 'Kenilworth'.
  • misericord - a tip-up wooden seat with a ledge underneath to give a priest some support whilst standing for long periods of time. Often carved with interesting designs and an area of study in their own right.
  • misk - a damp, bogey, low-lying stretch of grassland (Scots).
  • mistal - northern dialect for a cattle stall, synonymous with byre.
  • monger - a dealer or trader.
  • monolith - a large, single upright standing stone (also Menhir or megalith), of prehistoric European origin.
  • moot Hill - a law, knoll or knowe used as a meeting place for judgements, etc.
  • morally defective - were people who, from an early age, displayed some permanent mental defect coupled with strong vicious or criminal propensities on which punishment had little or no effect.
  • morganantic - a marriage between a man of exalted rank and a woman of lower rank in which the wife and her children do not share the rank or inherit the possessions of the husband.
  • morion - a crested metal helmet with a curved peak in front and back, worn by soldiers in the 16th and 17th centuries.
  • morocco - tanned goatskin used for binding books, originally produced in North Africa.[23]
  • mortmain - the status of lands or tenements held inalienably by an ecclesiastical or other corporation (Legal).
  • mortsafe - a structure placed on a grave to prevent the body being exhumed and stolen.
  • moss - equivalent to morass or bog in England, contains black or dark-coloured substance formed by stagnant water from rotting vegetation, sometimes in a fluid state (Scots).
  • motte - an earth mound on which a palisade or stone castle tower was built. Usually Norman.
  • muir - wet or poorly drained pasture, open moorland or heath (Scots).
  • mullion - vertical framing member of an opening such as a window.
  • multure - pronounced 'Mooter'. The payment, a fixed proportion of the tenants grain, paid to the miller by the suckener to grind the corn (Scots).
  • muniment chest - a strongbox used to safely store deeds, wedding certificates and other written items of value.
  • mure - wet or poorly drained pasture, open moorland or heath (Scots).

N WordsEdit

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


  • natus - born.
  • nave - the central part of a church from the west door to the chancel, excluding the side aisles.
  • necromancy - the prediction of the future by the supposed communication with the dead. A from of witchcraft.
  • nee - born, used to denote a woman's maiden name, ie., Anne Gibson nee West.
  • nether - lower or under.
  • neuk - a corner or nook. Such as the 'Cheepy Neuk' in Perceton, North Ayrshire. This was a trysting place for courting couples.
  • newe - a stair which winds round a central newel-post.
  • night-soil - faeces and urine from human sources added to the midden before the development of mechanical toilets.
  • no canny - not free from risk, unsafe (Scots).
  • nocturnal - the night-time equivalent of the sundial. The time was found from entering the position of the stars onto the mechanisms dials and scales; the time was then read off.[30]
  • nones - c.1420, in ref. to the Roman calendar, "ninth day before the ides of each month" (7th of March, May, July, October, 5th of other months), from L. nonæ (acc. nonas), fem. pl. of nonus "ninth." Also in an Ecclesiastical sense of "daily office said originally at the ninth hour of the day" is from 1709; originally fixed at ninth hour from sunrise, hence about 3 p.m. (now usually somewhat earlier), from L. nona (hora) "ninth (hour)," from fem. pl. of nonus "ninth," contracted from *novenos, from novem "nine" (see nine). Also used in a sense of "midday" (see noon).
  • nuncupative will - an oral will declared or dictated by the testator in his last sickness before a sufficient number of witnesses and afterwards put in writing (Legal).

O WordsEdit

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


  • obverse - in a book this is the right-hand page, also called the recto.
  • occidens - pertaining to or of the west.
  • oculi - decorative carved or painted patterns that appear to represent 'eyes'. The Folkton Drums and Carved Stone Balls show 'oculi'.
  • ogee - a feature showing in section a double continuous S-shaped curve. An S-shaped line or moulding.
  • ogham - also Old Irish 'Ogam' - an Early Medieval alphabet used primarily to represent Gaelic languages. Ogham is sometimes referred to as the "Celtic Tree Alphabet." The word is pronounced [ˈɔɣam] in Old Irish and [oːm] or [oːəm] in Modern Irish.
  • oral history - an oral history is a collection of family stories told by a member of the family or by a close family friend. Normally, an oral history is transcribed onto paper, or is video or tape recorded. Oral histories can yield some of the best information about a family -- the kinds of things that you won't find written in records.
  • oriens - pertaining to or of the east.
  • osaris - osiers, a species of willow.
  • out sucken - a mill which grinds corn from outside its thirl or sucken (Scots).
  • overmantel - usually a highly decoratively carved ornamentation surmounting a fireplace in old buildings. Stokesay Castle in Salop, England has a fine oak example dating from at least 1648.[31]
  • overshot - a water wheel which is turned by the weight of water falling on it. It is at least two and a half times as efficient as an undershot. It turns clockwise.
  • owl-hole - an entrance, square or round, high up on a wall designed to allow owls to enter and catch rats and mice.
  • oxter - armpit.

P WordsEdit

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


  • packhorse - an animal used for carrying heavy roads, usually over rough terrain or on poorly surfaced roads.
  • paddles - the boards attached to a water wheel.
  • paddy-stool - a toad-stool (Scots).
  • pad-stone - flat stone acting as a plinth, usually for a single timber post.
  • palace - Also place - a large dwelling with a central courtyard. Such as Kilmaurs Place, East Ayrshire, Scotland.[16]
  • pale - thin planks of wood from which a fence is made, usually surrounding a hunting preserve.
  • paleography - the study of handwriting.
  • palimpset - a piece of writing material or manuscript on which the original writing has been effaced to make room for other writing. It also refers to other situation where this principle holds, such as 'Rig & furrow' still being visible despite later ploughing, afforestation, etc.
  • palsy - paralysis with shakes. Used in 1611 Bible.
  • pannage - the payment made in return for allowing pigs to forage in woodland for acorns or beech mast.
  • parclose screen - in Christian centres of worship these enclose a side chapel.
  • parish - the ecclesiastical division or jurisdiction; the site of a church.
  • park - an area of land, often pasture with specimen trees, surrounding a mansion or country house with a wall or fence boundary.
  • paroxysm - medical Latin from Greek roots. Originally, in late Middle English, a severe episode of a disease. By the 17th century also used for a fit, a convulsion or an energetic outburst of emotion or activity.
  • parterre - a level space in a garden occupied by flower-beds arranged formally. An example would be that to found at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, Scotland.[32]
  • pastoral - relating or associated with shepherds and their flocks or herds.
  • patchwork - a form of needlework or craft that involves sewing together small pieces of fabric and stitching them together into a larger design, which is then usually quilted, or else tied together with pieces of yarn at regular intervals, a practice known as tying. Patchwork is traditionally 'pieced' by hand, but modern quiltmakers often use a sewing machine instead.
  • paternal line - the line of descent traced through the father's ancestry.
  • patrician - someone who is noble or aristocratic.
  • patronage - the system by which appointments to important public posts were made by patrons who were un-elected and therefore did not represent the democratic wishes of the population. The appointment of kirk ministers by aristrocratic patrons in Scotland is an example in point. Appointments to the Scottish Mint were mainly through patronage in the 19th-century.[33]
  • patronymics - the practice of creating last names from the name of one's father. For example, Robert, John's son, would become Robert Johnson. Robert Johnson's son Neil would become Neil Robertson.
  • pauper - (from Latin for poor) in the sense of a poor person or someone dependent on charity. Later, narrower meaning of someone receiving poor law relief.
  • pease - peas.
  • peck - the measure of capacity for dry goods. In Scotland, a fourth part of a firlot and amounting to four lippies or forpits, and three grudgies (Scots).
  • pedigree - a person's ancestry, lineage, family tree.
  • peels - these were the houses of the lesser gentry, worth less than £100.[34]
  • pelehouse - see bastle.
  • pentise - single-pitched roof attached to the side of a wall.
  • pendicle - something dependent on another, such as loans taken out against property (Legal).
  • petroglyphs - images created by removing part of a rock surfaces by incising, pecking, carving, and abrading.
  • petrosomatoglyphs - petroglyphs representing part of a human or an animal's body, such as eyes, feet, hands, etc.
  • petrosphere - any of the classes of circular stone balls of wholly or partly man-made origin, such as carved stone balls, painted pebbles, etc.
  • pew - a bench in a church etc. for the congregation who were originally segregated by gender. These were often rented out to wealthy parishoners.
  • photogravure - a method of reproducing artwork or photographs from a photographically produced intaglio plate.[35]
  • piano nobile - the principal or 'noble floor' of an aristocratic proprietor in a castle, country house chateau, etc. The floor where the best rooms would be and where guests would be entertained.[36]
  • pict's House - also fogou in Kernow / Cornwall, earth house or souterrain, mainly in the east of Scotland.
  • pig - originally a baby 'pig', the adult being called a 'swine'.
  • pikeman - a miller's assistant (Scots).
  • pinnacle - an ornamental pointed cap to a buttress, etc. Found in churches.
  • piscina - a stone drain in monasteries, abbeys, etc, used to clean the chalice after mass.
  • pit & gallows - the feudal right of a baron or vassal of the monarch to carry out executions following judgment.
  • pitch-hole - a window-like opening in barns, covered by wooden shutters, used for piching in corn or hay from a cart standing outside. They could also give ventilation and light if the barn was not full. After 1825 circular pitch-holes became common.
  • place - see 'Palace'.[4]
  • plenish - to furnish & fit out.
  • poind - seize, impound or distrain.
  • poke - a bag or sack.
  • policies - the estate lands of a country house, usually implying the improved or cultivated lands in the immediate neighbourhood.
  • pollard - a woodland management method of encouraging lateral branches by cutting off a tree stem or minor branches two metres or so above ground level.
  • post mill - a type of windmill where the whole box body is mounted about a central pivot post. [24]
  • posthumous - a child born after the death of the father.
  • postillion - the rider on the near (left-hand side) horse drawing a coach etc. when their is no coachman.
  • postprandial - after lunch or dinner.
  • postulant - a candidate, especially for admission into holy orders.
  • potence - device which allows a ladder to pivot around the inside of a Dovecot so that all the nest holes can be reached.
  • power of attorney - a written instrument where on persons, as principal, appoints someone as his or her agent, thereby authorizing that person to perform certain acts on behalf of the principal, such as buying or selling property, settling an estate, representing them in court, etc. (Legal).
  • powrie - also known as a redcap or dunter, is a type of malevolent murderous goblin, elf or fairy found in British folklore. They inhabit ruined castles found along the border between England and Scotland. Redcaps are said to murder travelers who stray into their homes and dye their hats with their victims' blood (from which they get their name (Scots).
  • pox - also pock / pocks which became pox: eruptions on the skin full of pus and also certain diseases that produce these, particularly smallpox. The pox (16th century on) is syphilis, often distinguished as the great pox, or French pox. Later, chickenpox and cowpox. Smallpox is caused by a virus: syphilis by a bacterium.
  • prebend - a stipend drawn from the endowment or revenues of an Anglican cathedral or church by a presiding member of the clergy; a cathedral or church benefice; the property or tithe providing the endowment for such a stipend.
  • preclair - shining, lustrous, renowned, magnificent, splendid in the landscape.
  • prepositi / prepositus - agents of the Crown, such as sheriffs or bailies, responsible for collecting revenues due to the Crown.
  • presbyterianism - a church governed by elders who are all of the same rank, therefore without Bishops, Deans and other such posts (Scots).
  • press-gang - a body of men employed to press men into service in either the army or the navy.
  • primary source - records that were created at the time of an event. For example, a primary source for a birth date would be a birth certificate. While you can find birth dates on other documents, such as marriage certificates, they would not be primary sources for the birth date, because they were not created at the time of the birth.
  • primogeniture - insures the right of the eldest son to inherit the entire estate of his parents, to the exclusion of younger sons (Legal).
  • printer's devil - a person employed in a printing works to carry out menial tasks.
  • probate - the legal process by which the property of a deceased intestate individual is dispersed.
  • proctor - an English variant of the word procurator, is a person who takes charge or acts for another. The word proctor is frequently used to describe someone who oversees an exam or dormitory. In the church a proctor represents the clergy in Church of England dioceses. In education a Proctor is the name of important university officials in certain universities, for example at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge.
  • progeniture - a direct ancestor.
  • psychosis - a severe mental... disorder involving a loss of contact with reality, frequently with hallucinations, delusions, or altered thought processes, with or without a known organic origin.
  • pudding - The rule of kitchen economy is not to waste. (The word comes originally from a word for bowel). When you kill an animal you will use all of it. The stomach and intestine make handy skins to contain the suet (fat), blood, etc for boiling. This makes pudding. Black pudding is a sausage-shaped pudding made with blood and suet. Suet pudding does not need a skin: You mix the suet with flour. By the nineteenth century a pudding is probably usually something made by mixing with flour and cooking: suet pudding and plum pudding being well known.
  • puddock - a toad (Scots).
  • pulse - the edible seeds of the various leguminous seeds, such as peas, beans, lentils, etc.
  • purveyor - a person who purveys, provides, or supplies: a purveyor of foods; an officer who provided or acquired provisions for the sovereign under the prerogative of purveyance.

Q WordsEdit

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


  • ruaker - meaning one who quakes (shakes or trembles) was applied to people (quakers) who shook (had fits) under the influence of the spirit of God in and around them. George Fox says it was first used (October 1650) because he told a Justice to tremble. The term arose at a time when many anticipated great quakes in the political and physical universe as God re-established his kingdom on Earth. The Quakers became the informal name for the religious organisation that developed out of the movement.
  • ruarrel - a stone-quarry. 'Coral' as in 'Coral Glen' in Maybole, Ayrshire, Scotland is an example (Scots).
  • ruarter - a district of a town; usually where a particular minority live or a particular trade is carried out.
  • ruarto - a bibliographical term for a book with four leaves in each quire; eight pages.[35]
  • ruern - a hand-powered device like two small millstones used to grind cereals for consumption by humans or stock animals. Often found broken as a result of thirlage laws prohibiting their use.
  • ruey - the Scots term for a heifer until she had birthed a calf.
  • ruire - the group of leaves which are folded together before a book is bound. Also called the section, gathering or signature.[35]
  • ruod vide - or 'QV' - directs the reader to look in another part of the book for further information.
  • ruoit - also known as cromlechs or dolmen, are a type of single-chamber megalithic tomb, usually consisting of three or more upright stones (megaliths) supporting a large flat horizontal capstone. Mostly dating from the early Neolithic period in Britain (4000 BC to 3000 BC). They were usually covered with earth or smaller stones to form a barrow, though in most cases that covering has weathered away or removed for drystone dyking, etc.

R WordsEdit

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


  • rabbit - originally the name for a baby rabbit. A coney was the name for an adult.
  • ragman rolls - the name given to the collection of instruments by which the nobility and gentry of Scotland were compelled to subscribe allegiance to King Edward I of England between the Conference of Norham in May 1291 and the final award in favor of Baliol in November 1292 and again in 1296..[37]
  • rag paper - paper made from a pulp of mashed rags. [35]
  • raised band - the raised areas on the spine of a book containing the cord which is attached to the covers.
  • rapture (from rapt) - seizure and carrying out of (physically) or rape (late 16th century). Early 17th century: a state of excitement, a fit, exaltation as a result of religious experience, enthusiasm. Mid 17th century:the transporting of believers to heaven at the second coming of Christ.
  • real property - land and anything attached to it, such as houses, building, barns, growing timber, growing crops, etc (Legal).
  • real tennis - also royal tennis a popular leisure activity of the aristocracy of Scotland in the 16th-century. An example of the court used survives at Falkland Palace in Scotland and a modern one is in use at Troon in North Ayrshire.[38]
  • reaper - a person or machine that cuts or gathers in the harvest.
  • reaves - stone banks as associated with Neolithic field systems.
  • rebus - The use of a pictoral rhyming pun, very common on coats of arms. Therefore it refers to the use of a pictogram to represent a syllabic sound. One example is that of a seal with a barrel (or tun) engraved on it, the barrel transfixed with an arrow. This becomes 'A Tun Pierced' or Piercetun, Piercetoun, Pearston or Perceton. This is a hamlet in North Ayrshire, Scotland.
  • receiver - a person appointed by court to hold property until a suit is settled (Legal).
  • reconveyance - property sold to another person is transferred back to the original owner (Legal).
  • red tape - originally the red ribbon used to bind together legal documents.
  • reeve - a churchwarden; early name for sheriff in England.
  • refectory- the room where monks, etc. take their meals.[10]
  • reid frier - the red friars or Knights Templar (Scots). A 'Reid Frier's Mill' at Annick Lodge in North Ayrshire, Scotland indicated the location of a long vanished mill owned by the Knights Templar.
  • relict - a widow (legal).
  • relicta - a widow.
  • relictus - a widower.
  • remembrancer - an officer of the British judiciary responsible for collecting debts owed to the Crown.
  • renaissance - the period of revival of art and literature under the influence of classical models in the 14th to 16th-centuries.
  • reredos - a carved screen backing the altar in some churches.
  • resurrectionist - a body snatcher. Auchenharvie castle outside of Irvine, North Ayrshire, in Scotland was used to store resurrected bodies prior to their removal to the university in Glasgow.
  • retour - (legal).
  • reynard - a fox. Sometimes used as a proper name in stories. A very early publication by Caxton was 'Reynard the Fox'.
  • rheged - a dark ages kingdom ruled by Urien. Various references are made in the Mabinogion and in the poems of Taliesin. It probably lay in Dumfries and Galloway. Dunrigit in this area means the 'castle of Rheged'. The 'Rheged centre' is a modern development located in an old quarry just outside Penrith, Cumbria, England.
  • ribbed vault - by bridging the diagonal corners with narrow arches, ribs, a lighter vault can be built. The spaces between the 'ribs' are filled with thin stonework.[22]
  • rick - a stack of hay, corn, etc., built into a regular shape and usually thatched or covered in some way.
  • riddle - a course sieve.
  • rig and furrow - a method of agriculture where land was worked in long thin strips with drainage channels in between (Scots).
  • rig or ridge - a type of cultivation practiced in upland areas generally and in Scotland in particular, which differs slightly from the more common ridge / rig and furrow in that it was created through excavation by spade rather than plough. The technique improved drainage by creating raised areas of cultivation and furrows to carry away water. The centre could be a metre high and the width was that to which seed could be sown by hand.
  • rill - a stream.
  • rind - The symbol of a miller, such as that seen on gravestones, the iron 'part' that supports the upper millstone in a mill.
  • ring the mill - to cheat. See 'Mill-ring'.
  • rivulet - a small river,[20] such as the Tour rivulet in Kilmaurs, Ayrshire.
  • rocking stone - also 'logan stone' - a large boulder, often a glacial erratic, which rocks when pushed. Such boulders often have associated folk legends.
  • rodden - a rough track, sheep path or right of way (Scots).
  • rood screen - in Christian centres of worship these are wooden or stone screens which run across the chancel and divide the priests from the congregation, thereby setting them apart. Many were destroyed at the Reformation.
  • roup - A sale of farm goods by auction.
  • rowme - an estate or farm (also a room).
    • royal tennis - also real tennis a popular leisure activity of the aristocracy of Scotland in the 16th-century. An example of the court used survives at Falkland Palace in Scotland and a modern one is in use at Troon in North Ayrshire.[33]
  • runes - a set of related alphabets using letters (known as runes), formerly used to write Germanic languages before and shortly after the Christianization of Scandinavia and the British Isles. The Scandinavian variants are also known as futhark (or fuþark, derived from their first six letters: F, U, Þ, A, R, and K); the Anglo-Saxon variant as Futhorc (due to sound changes undergone in Old English by the same six letters).
  • runner - a runner stone is the upper-most of a pair of working millstones.
  • rustica - a country girl
  • rusticus- a country boy.

S WordsEdit

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


  • sailzie - anything that projects out from a building. i.e. Sally.
  • saint Anne - the supposed mother of the Virgin Mary. Used in placenames such as the Burn Anne in Ayrshire, Scotland.
  • sampler - a complex exercise in needlework, including the letters of the alphabet, numbers, patterns, identification and dating of the piece, etc. Girls produced such ornamental items during the 17th., 18th and early 19th-centuries.
  • sand-glass - a timing device formed from two flasks sealed together with a waxed cord. A pin hole allowed sand top flow from one to the other. The timing was usually 15, 30, 45 or 60 minutes.[39]
  • sarsen - a sandstone boulder carried by ice during a glacial period.
  • sasine - the register of land ownership (Legal).
  • sauchen or sauch-tree - a willow (Scots).
  • saugh - a willow (Scots).
  • sawney - the English word for 'Alexander'. Used commonly of Scots in general, as with 'Jock'.
  • scarecrows - life-size models of a men or women made to be placed in fields to scare away birds which would otherwise eat the crops.
  • scion - a descendent; a younger member , often of a noble family.
  • scold - a woman whose speech was "riotous" or "troublesome".
  • scold's bridle - known in Scotland as a brank, consists of a locking metal mask or head cage that contains a tab that fits in the mouth to inhibit talking.
  • scoopwheel - a type of water-lifting waterwheel, used mainly for land drainage.[24]
  • scrag - a variant of the commoner Scot's word scrog or scroag, meaning a gnarled or stunted tree or tree-stump, specifically a crab-apple tree or its fruit, previously called scrag-apples (Scots).
  • sealing wax - most often used for seals. Made from Venice turpentine, beeswax and colouring, usually vermillion. More recently shellac has replaced the wax component.
  • seals - in sealing wax, lead, gold, lacquer or embossed on paper, to authenticate documents; a practice as old as writing itself. Seals were applied directly to the face of document and manuscripts or attached to the by cords by the owner's, or to a narrow strip of the document sliced and folded down as a tail but not detached from the document. Authenticity was thus maintained by not allowing the reuse of the seal. If a forger tried to remove the seal in the first case, it would break. In the other cases, although the forger could remove the seal intact by ripping the cords from the paper, he'd still have to separate the cords to attach it to another document, which would destroy the seal as well because the cords had knots tied in them inside the wax seal. Some seals even had an edge inscription.
  • secondary evidence - evidence that is inferior to primary evidence or the best evidence.
  • secondary source - a secondary source is a record that was created a significant amount of time after an event occurred. For example, a marriage certificate would be a secondary source for a birth date, because the birth took place several years before the time of the marriage. However, that same marriage certificate would be a primary source for a marriage date, because it was created at the time of the marriage.
  • sedilia - stone seats in monasteries, abbeys or churches for the priests.
  • seneschal - an officer in the household of important nobles in the Middle ages. The most basic function of a seneschal was to supervise feasts and domestic ceremonies; in this respect, they were equivalent to stewards and majordomos. Sometimes, seneschals were given additional responsibilities, including the dispensing of justice and high military command.
  • septentrio - pertaining to or of the north.
  • sequestration - the act of removing, separating or seizing anything from the possession of its owner, of the taking possession of property under process of law for the benefit of creditors or the state.
  • sequals or lock - a payment to a miller's servant of an amount of grain that could be heaped into a pair of clasped hands (Scots).
  • serf - a labourer not allowed to leave the land on which he worked, a villein.
  • serge - a durable twilled worsted etc. fabric.
  • set - Also sett - a cut stone block, often of granite.
  • shak - to shake as in the threshing of grain (Scots).
  • shambles - an Abattoir/slaughterhouse. A road containing such a building.
  • shaw - a small natural wood (Scots).
  • sheela na gig - (or Sheela-na-Gigs) are figurative carvings of naked women displaying an exaggerated vulva. They are found on churches, castles and other buildings, particularly in Ireland and Britain,
  • shelling lint bows- extracting the oil from lint seeds (Scots).
  • shepherd - a person employed to tend sheep, especially at pasture.
  • shieling - a roughly constructed building used by shepherds in summer pastures.
  • shieling Hill - a windy hill upon which the 'shelling' of the husk from cereals was carried out. Many such hills were part of the property of mills.
  • shippon - western dialect for a cattle shed, synonymous with a byre.
  • shire or county - an English administrative district, uniting several smaller districts called hundreds, ruled jointly by an ealdorman and sheriff, who presided in the shire-moot. Moot Hall or Mote House became the name for what we now call a Town Hall (See 1890 romanticisation by William Morris). The Normans (from 1066) continued to rule England in shires, using Anglo-French counté, Anglo-Latin comitatus to describe them. These words were absorbed into English as county.
  • shrub - a drink made from rum and fruit juice. It is mentioned as having been consumed by Alexander MacDonald of Glenalladale, the builder of the famous Glenfinnan Monument tot he Jacobite rising of 1745..[33]
  • sibling - a brother or sister, persons who share the same parents in common.
  • sic - a Latin term signifying a copy reads exactly as the original; indicates a possible mistake in the original.
  • sids - the inner husks of oats after grinding, frequently containing particles of the meal which have not been sifted and from which sowans are made (Scots).
  • sigilliography - the study of seals, e.g the Ragman Roll' of Edward I of England.[37]
  • signet - the royal seal formerly used for special purposes in England and Scotland, and in Scotland later as the seal of the Court of Session; also any seal used as authentication. signet ring is such a seal set in a ring.
  • sike - also syke. A small rill; a marshy bottom or hollow with one or more small streams. Used in Scotland and Northern England; Cumbria.
  • sin-eating - a person who, through ritual means, would take on by means of food and drink the sins of a deceased person, thus absolving his or her soul and allowing that person to rest in peace. Sin-eating is a form of religious magic, part of the study of folklore.
  • skep - a type of primitive beehive made from coiled up straw and tied with wire. Kept in Bee boles.
  • slack - an opening between hills; a pass; a hollow; a dip in the ground (Scots).
  • slap - a narrow pass between two hills; a gap or temporary opening in a hedge, fence, etc. (Scots).
  • sledge - a 'cart' without wheels. Used before good roads were built or during snowy weather conditions.
  • slipcase - a cardboard case often covered with paper, cloth or leather which holds a book with only the spine exposed.
  • small beer - a drink for children made from a second brewing after the strong beer had been drawn off.[40] *smallholding - an agricultural holding smaller than a farm.
  • smiddy - a Blacksmith's workshop.
  • smock mill - a type of tower windmill having a tower that is mainly constructed of wood.[24]
  • snod - cut, smooth or trim (Scots).
  • sod - a turf or a piece of turf.
  • solander - a closed box for a book made in two parts which fit into one another.[35]
  • solar - a private room for the owners of medieval houses and castles.[31]
  • source - the document, record, publication, manuscript, etc. used to prove a fact.
  • souter - in Scotland and Northern england the term for a maker of shoes, a cobbler.
  • souterrain - a name given by archaeologists to a type of underground structure associated with the Atlantic Iron Age. Regional names include earth house, fogou and Picts house.
  • southron - Of persons: belonging to or living in England, English (Scots).
  • sowans - the food made from the husks left over from the milling process of oats (Scots).
  • sowchis - haystacks (Scots).
  • spelt cereal - cereal seeds, often wheat, which do not detach easily from the husk.
  • sponsor - a sponsor is an individual other than the parents of a child that takes responsibility for the child's religious education. Sponsors are usually present at a child's baptism. Sponsors are often referred to as godparents.
  • spouse - a husband or wife.
  • spurtle - a short, round stick used for stirring porridge, soup, etc., a pot-stick, but was originally a flat, wooden, spatula-like utensil, used for flipping oatcakes in a hot oven. (Scots).
  • stable - a building set aside and adapted for housing horses.
  • stack-yard - an enclosure for stacks of hay, straw, oats, etc.
  • staddle stones - structures, shaped like a mushroom, used to support a framework upon which a granary, rick or other food stuffs could be stored.
  • staging - the structure for facilitating access to windmill sails and sometimes caps.[24]
  • stall - a partitioned off space for an animal in a stable, etc. where its is tied up.
  • standalane — a name used for a property set in a lonely or solitary place or a dwelling just outside a village or town.
  • stathel - a cast-iron structure used to support and elevate a granary, rick or other stored food materials.
  • statute - a law (Legal).
  • steading - farm buildings, with or without the farmhouse.
  • stewarton hive - a hectagonal hive, the first to allow for separation of the honey combs and brood combs, allowing for the removal of honey without the need to kill the bees.
  • stigma - (Late 16th century:) Developed from a Greek word for "to prick", a stigma was a brand or cut inflicted on the skin as a mark of disgrace. From the 17th century, the plural, stigmata, also described miraculous marks appearing on a person's body suggesting the wounds of the crucified Jesus. By the mid 19th century, stigma was used generally for any visible or apparent sign that there is something disgraceful about a person.
  • stile - an arrangement which permits people through an entrance but which blocks the passage of animals.
  • stockman - a person in charge of livestock.
  • streamlet - a small stream.
  • street - from the Old English 'stræt' a ‘paved road, Roman road’, from West Germanic, from late Latin strata, used as a short form of via strata ‘paved road’. The West Germanic form also gave Dutch straat, German Straße (Scandinavian forms are borrowed from Old English); cognates from Latin include Portuguese estrada, Italian strada.
  • sty - a pen or enclosure for pigs.
  • sucken - the area over which a mill held thirlage over tenants (Scots).
  • suckener - a tenant thirled to a mill (Scots).
  • sumpter - a packhorse or any pack animal.
  • sundial - an ancient clock that measures time by the position of the sun. The most commonly seen designs, such as the 'ordinary' or standard garden sundial, cast a shadow on a flat surface marked with the hours of the day. As the position of the sun changes, the time indicated by the shadow changes.
  • suzerain - a feudal overlord.
  • suzerainty - a situation where a sovereign or state has some control over another state that is otherwise internally autonomous. An example would be the control that Edward I of England had over Scotland prior to William Wallace and ultimately Robert the Bruce's establishment as king of Scotland.
  • swee - a hinged bracket for suspending a pot or kettle over an open fire.
  • swine - originally the name given to the adult 'pig'.
  • syke - also sike. A small rill ; a marshy bottom or hollow with one or more small streams (Scots).

T WordsEdit

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


  • tablet sundial - a pocket-sized sundial with a top that opened with a piece of stretched twine acroos. The top's angle corresponded with the angle of the earth's axis and the built in compass dial was orientated so that the time could be read off from the shadow cast by the twine onto a dial.
  • tack - a lease[20]. Usually paid yearly.
  • tacksmen - someone who leases land, a tenant farmer, or one who leases land to sublet, also a lessee of property, mills, fishings, the collection of customs, teinds, dues, etc. (Scots).
  • tailrace - the watercourse taking water away from a waterwheel or turbine.[24]
  • tailzie - also 'tailyie' - an entail, the settlement of heritable property inalienably on a specified line of heirs, not heirs at law, a practice modified by various statutes since 1685 and finally made incompetent after 1914. The law books favour the spelling tailzie (Legal).
  • teins - a tenth of the income of a property, payable to the church.
  • temple - lands belonging to the Knight's Templar.
  • tenant - a person who rents land or property from a landlord.
  • tenement - land built on and held in tenure.
  • tentering - the adjusting of the gap between millstones according to the water flow, the type of grain being milled, and the grade of flour required.
  • terminus ad quem - the finishing point of a period, argument, policy, etc.
  • terminus post quem - the starting point of a period, etc.
  • testate - died leaving a valid will (Legal).
  • testis - a witness (Legal).
  • testator - a man who writes a valid will (Legal).
  • testatrix - a woman who writes a valid will (Legal).
  • thing - an assembly, (also transliterated as ting or þing), historical governing assemblies in early Scandinavian society. The Tynwald in the Isle of Man is probably the oldest surviving example.
  • thold - endured.
  • thresher - a person or machine which separates the grain from the straw or husk.
  • thuthark - the Anglo-Saxon runic alphabet.
  • tiber - a spring or well, as used in the placenames 'Auchentiber' and 'Knockentiber' (Scots).
  • tiercon vaulting - these are intermediate ribs used in cieling vaulting to give extra support and to make the panels smaller.[22]
  • tipped-in - the plates, autograph, letter, photo, etc., glued into a book. Such items are glued in along one edge only.[35]
  • tithe - in English law, the tenth part of one's annual increase paid to support noblemen and clergy; amount of annual poll tax.
  • tod - a fox (Scots).
  • toft - a homestead with a double rig.
  • toll - in England, similar to thirlage.
  • tomfoolery - Tom, an abbreviation of Thomas, was used from late Middle English as a term for a common (of the people) man. Tomfool developed at the same period as a term for idiot or madman. So the term may have the inference that the tomfool is the common people's jester. Fool acquired the meaning of mad or idiotic person in the same period. Tom of Bedlam. was current from the mid-16th to late 17th centuries. The female equivalent in the folk song is Mad Maudlin. This term is heavy with meaning. Maudlin is Mary Magdalen. The Mary may link to the original name of "Bedlam" St Mary of Bethlem (That Mary, presumably, being the mother of Jesus).
  • touch piece - coins and medalets that have attracted superstitious beliefs, such as those with 'holes' in them or those with particular designs. Such 'pieces' were believed to cure disease, bring good luck, influence peoples behaviour, carry out a specific practical action, et
  • toun or ton - a farm[20] and its outbuildings, originally an area fenced or walled off with a dwelling within. A very common placename, such as in Thorntoun, Ayrshire, although the origins are not not known by most users.
  • transept - a transverse arm off the nave of a church, abbey, etc.
  • transom - a horizontal bar set across an opening such as a window.
  • trebuchet - a siege engine invented by the French in the 12th-century. A counterweigt at one end was released and the other end was flung up, allowing missiles of up to half a ton to be hurled at the enemy.[3]
  • tree calf - a binding of a book in which the calf leather has been treated with dilute acid over its surface to produce a grained effect, sometimes like the grain of fine wood.[35]
  • tron - a Scottish measure for the sale of goods used until 1618. It's nature is no longer known. Names such as 'Trongate' in Glasgow are derived from it.[12]
  • trowse - also 'trouse' - a grating of wood or iron which could be raised or lowered to allow water out of a dam into a mill lade (Scots).
  • truck - the old system by which employees were paid mostly with tokens that could only be exchanged at the employers shops where goods were adulterated and underweight measures were used.
  • tumulus (plural tumuli or tumuluses, from the Latin word for mound or small hill) is a mound of earth and stones raised over a grave or graves. Tumuli are also known as barrows, burial mounds, or kurgans.
  • turbary - land, or a piece of land, where turf or peat may be dug or cut; the right to cut turf or peat on a common land or on another person's land.
  • turf - a layer of grass etc. with earth & matted roots as the surface of grassland.
  • turnpike - a road on which a toll or fee was charged at a toll-gate.
  • twill - a fabric so woven as to have a surface of diagonal parallel ridges.
  • tympanum - The basically semicircular area enclosed by the arch above the lintel of an arched entranceway, often filled with carvings or other ornamentation.
  • tynwald - the Isle of Man 'Parliament', usually said to be the oldest parliament in continuous existence in the world, having been established by 979 (though its roots may go back to the late 800s as the thing of Norse raiders not yet permanently resident on the Isle of Man) and having continued to be held since that time without interruption. The veracity of Tynwald's claim to continuous existence as a legislative body is disputed. From the 11th to the 15th centuries, Tynwald was arguably a judicial court and did not fulfil functions of creating legislation. During the 15th and 16th centuries the process of creating legislation varied between occasions and, as noted below, Tynwald does not appear to have functioned as a single legislative body during that period either.
  • typography - printing from movable type; also the aesthetics of arranging the words and other ornamentation on the printed page.[41]

U WordsEdit

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


  • ultimo - the preceding month (Legal).
  • umbo - the boss, a raised central area on a shield or buckler.
  • umquhile - some time ago; formerly (Legal).
  • uncut - a book in which the edges of the leaves have not been cut by a plough.[41]
  • under dog - the individual in a saw pit who was in the pit itself. The 'Top Dog' was the more fortunate individual on top of the log.
  • undershot - where a water wheel is turned by water running beneath it. The turning is brought about by the force of the water rather than the volume.
  • unopened - the leaves of a book which have never been cut at the folds.[41]
  • unsolemn will - a will in which an executor is not named (legal).
  • unprobated will - a will never submitted for probate (Legal).
  • use and want - established custom.
  • uxor. - a wife, spouse, consort (Legal).

V WordsEdit

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


  • valid - that which is legal and binding (Legal).
  • varlet - a knight's attendant, later a menial or rascal.
  • vassal - a holder of land by feudal tenure on conditions of homage and allegiance.
  • vellum - a thin sheet of specially prepared skin of calf, lamb, or kid used for writing or printing, or for the cover of a book or legal document.
  • verderer - a man serving as an official in charge of the royal forests of medieval England. Verderers were originally part of the ancient judicial and administrative hierarchy of the vast areas of English forests set aside by William the Conqueror for hunting. The title Verderer comes from the Norman word ‘vert’ meaning green and referring to woodland. These forests were divided into provinces each having a Chief Justice who travelled around on circuit dealing with the more serious offences. Verderers investigated and recorded minor offences and dealt with the day to day forest administration.
  • vernacular - a local building style using local materials and traditional methods of construction and ornamentation, especially as distinguished from historical architectural styles.
  • vesica - a pointed oval shape used for some ecclesiastical seals or an an aureole in medieval sculpture or painting.
  • vestment - the ritual robes worn by the clergy and/or assistants at religious ceremonies. Especially one worn at the celebration of the Eucharist.
  • vestry - a room for keeping clothes or vestments, also an administrative group within a parish; the ruling body of a church.
  • viaduct - a viaduct is a bridge composed of several small spans. The term viaduct is derived from the Latin via for road and ductus to conduct something.
  • victual - food or provisions.
  • vidua - a widow.
  • viduus - a widower.
  • villein - a feudal tenant entirely subject to a lord or attached to a manor.
  • vintner - a wine merchant.
  • virgo - used to describe an unmarried woman in English and European marriage records.
  • volte-face - a complete reversal of position in argument or position.
  • voussoir - a wedge-shaped element in an arch. See keystone.

W WordsEdit

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


  • wadsetters - also 'wedsetter'. Not put in pledge. A consolidation of the property which was wadset with the superiority, which remained unwadset and undisponed.
  • waggon - a four-wheeled horse drawn vehicle for heavy loads, often with a cover.
  • wain - a type of horse-drawn, load-carrying vehicle, used for agricultural purposes rather than transporting people, for example a haywain. It normally has four wheels but the term has now acquired slightly poetical connotations so is not always used with technical correctness. However, a two-wheeled 'haywain' would be a hay cart. Constable's famous painting is the main reason for the word's survival in everyday usage into the 21st century.
  • ward - also 'waird' - feudal land tenure rights conferred through military service obligations of tenants.
  • ward-holding - tenure of lands through ward rights.
  • ward Land - lands held in ward.
  • warranty deed - guarantees a clear property title from the seller to the buyer (legal).
  • wassail - a hot, spiced punch often associated with winter celebrations of northern Europe, usually those connected with holidays such as Christmas, New Year's and Twelfth Night. Particularly popular in Germanic countries, the term itself is a contraction of the Old English toast wæs þu hæl, or "be thou hale!" (i.e., "be in good health").
  • watermark - the trademark of a papermaker, made by wire design fixed to a mould; seen when the paper is held up to the light.[41]
  • water wall - the substantial wall built of dressed stones, carefully mortared with lime, which withstood the constant rushing of water and the vibrations of the turning water wheel.
  • wattshode - a type of blue cloth popular around the 16th Century. Also used as a place name.
  • waulk – mill. From 'walk' - a finishing process fulling on cloth (Scots).
  • webster - a person involved in the weaving trade.
  • weir - an overflow-type dam commonly used to raise the level of a river or stream. Traditionally been used to create mill ponds. Water flows over the top of a weir, although some weirs have sluice gates which release water at a level below the top of the weir.
  • wester - western, lying more to the west; applied to the more westerly of two places (Scots).
  • wheelwright - someone who makes or repairs, especially wooden wheels.
  • white rent - blackmail; rent to be paid in silver.
  • will - a document stating how a person wants real and personal property divided after death.
  • winnowing - using wind to separate the chaff from the grain. A rare example of a 'winnowing byre' survives largely intact at The Hill in Dunlop. Ayrshire. This was the home of Barbara Gilmour of Dunlop cheese fame, circa 1990.
  • wire lines - the closely spaced horizontal lines in laid paper.[41]
  • wish tree - an individual tree, usually distinctive due to species, position or appearance, and identified as being of special religious value or spiritual identity. By tradition, people making wishes and offerings to the tree in some way thought the ritual votive offering increases the chances of the wish being granted. This behaviour, using living trees, is one of making an offering to the nature spirit or goddess of the tree with the hope of gaining benefit.
  • witness - a witness is an individual present at an event such as a marriage or the signing of a document who can vouch that the event took place (legal).
  • wodehouse - also 'woodwose' or 'woodhouse' - the aboriginal Wild man or woman of medieval lore. Covered in shaggy hair, living in primitive communities in the forests and deeply stupid.
  • wodwo - See 'Wodehouse.'
  • woodland policies - woodlands, usually broadleaved and actively managed as part of an estate.
  • woodward - a "ward of the wood" or "guardian of the wood". See verderer.
  • workhouse - once just meaning somewhere work was done. From the mid- 17th century, a place set up to provide work for the unemployed poor. Later, a place where the destitute could live and be fed, usually in return for work.
  • workhouse asylum / lunatic wards- some workhouses contained wards exclusively used for lunatics and in some places a separate building (belonging to and administered by the local Poor Law authority) was used exclusively for the lunatics, or as a general hospital with lunatic wards.
  • worsted - a fine smooth yarn spun from combed long staple wool.
  • wove paper - paper which has no chain lines or wire lines, usually made on a woven wire mesh.[41]
  • writ of attachment - a court order authorizing the seizure of property sufficient to cover debts and court costs for not appearing in court (Legal).
  • writ of summons - a document ordering a person to appear in court (legal).
  • wynd - an alley (Scots).

X WordsEdit

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


  • xoanon - a primitive, usually wooden image of a deity supposed to have fallen from heaven.
  • xylography - the process of printing from wood blocks, etc.[41]

Y WordsEdit

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


  • yapp edges - the turn-in on the fore edge of some vellum bindings.[41]
  • yard - a term used in Scotland to cover the various walled courtyards, service yards, walled gardens and orchards that spread in every direction from a house.[4]
  • yeoman - a farmer; freeholder who works a small estate; rank below gentleman.
  • yet - also 'Yat'. A gate in Scotland, Cumbria and elsewhere, e.g Yetts O'Muckart'.

Z WordsEdit

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


  • zealot - an uncompromising or extreme partisan; a fanatic.
  • zeitgeist - the spirit of the times or the trend of thought and feeling in a period.
  • zenith - the highest point in one's fortune; a time of great prosperity, etc.
  • zeppelin - a large German dirigible airship of the early 20th century.

Bibliography & ReferencesEdit

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  2. 2.0 2.1 Donnelly, J. (2000). In the territory of Auchencrow: long continuity or late development in early Scottish field -systems? PSAS, 130, 743 - 772.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 The Past all around us. (1979) Pub. Reader's Digest. P. 304.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 McKean, Charles (2001). The Scottish Chateau. Sutton Publishing. ISBN 0-7509-2323-7. P. 53.
  5. ^ The Past all around us. (1979) Pub. Reader's Digest. P. 305
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Rees-Mogg, William (1988). How to Buy Rare Books. Pub. Phaidon. Christie's. ISBN 0-7148-8019-1. P.144.
  7. ^ MacBride, MacKenzie (1910). Arran of the Bens, the Glens and the Brave. Pub. Foulis. P. 76 - 80.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 The Past all around us. (1979) Pub. Reader's Digest.
  9. ^ Kenilworth. Vol. VII. (1823) Historical Romances of the Author of Waverley. Edinburgh.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 The Past all around us.(1979) Pub. Reader's Digest. P. 156
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 11.6 11.7 Rees-Mogg, William (1988). How to Buy Rare Books. Pub. Phaidon. Christie's. ISBN 0-7148-8019-1. P.145.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Smith, John. Cheesemaking in Scotland - A History. Scottish Dairy Association. ISBN 0-9525323-0-1.
  13. ^ The Past all around us. (1979) Pub. Reader's Digest. P. 250
  14. ^ The Past all around us.(1979) Pub. Reader's Digest. P.146
  15. ^ Hole, Christina (1950). English Custom & Usage. Pub. Batsford.
  16. 16.0 16.1 McKean, Charles (2001). The Scottish Chateau. Sutton Publishing. ISBN 0-7509-2323-7.
  17. ^ Smith, John. Cheesemaking in Scotland - A History. Scottish Dairy Association. ISBN 0-9525323-0-1. P. 31.
  18. ^ Dunlop Ancient & Modern. An Exhibition. March 1998. Editor. Dugald Campbell. P. 14 & 16.
  19. ^ The Past all around us. (1979) Pub. Reader's Digest. P. 167
  20. 20.00 20.01 20.02 20.03 20.04 20.05 20.06 20.07 20.08 20.09 20.10 20.11 20.12 20.13 Warrack, Alexander (1982)."Chambers Scots Dictionary". Chambers. ISBN 0-550-11801-2.
  21. ^ The Past all around us.(1979) Pub. Reader's Digest. P. 138.
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  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 24.3 24.4 24.5 24.6 Bryan, Anthony (2006). Francis Frith's Windmills & Watermills. Pub. Frith Collection. ISBN 0-7537-1404-3. P. 114
  25. ^ Hole, Christina (1950). English Custom & Usage. Pub. Batsford. P. 53 - 55.
  26. ^ McKean, Charles (2001). The Scottish Chateau. Sutton Publishing. ISBN 0-7509-2323-7. P. 197.
  27. ^ Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. Vol. 129. (1999). P. 803.
  28. ^ Bryan, Anthony (2006). Francis Frith's Windmills & Watermills. Pub. Frith Collection. ISBN 0-7537-1404-3. P. 23.
  29. ^ The Past all around us. (1979) Pub. Reader's Digest. P. 269
  30. ^ The Past all around us.(1979) Pub. Reader's Digest. P. 182.
  31. 31.0 31.1 The Past all around us. (1979) Pub. Reader's Digest. P. 335.
  32. ^ Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. Vol. 129. (1999). P. 828.
  33. 33.0 33.1 33.2 Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. Vol. 129. (1999). P. 872.
  34. ^ McKean, Charles (2001). The Scottish Chateau. Sutton Publishing. ISBN 0-7509-2323-7. P. 27.
  35. 35.0 35.1 35.2 35.3 35.4 35.5 35.6 Rees-Mogg, William (1988). How to Buy Rare Books. Pub. Phaidon. Christie's. ISBN 0-7148-8019-1. P.147.
  36. ^ McKean, Charles (2001). The Scottish Chateau. Sutton Publishing. ISBN 0-7509-2323-7. P. 66.
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  41. 41.0 41.1 41.2 41.3 41.4 41.5 41.6 41.7 Rees-Mogg, William (1988). How to Buy Rare Books. Pub. Phaidon. Christie's. ISBN 0-7148-8019-1. P.148.
  • Aiton, William (1811). General View of the Agriculture of the County of Ayr. Pub. Glasgow. P.61.
  • Anderson, William & Hicks, Clive (1990). Green Man. The Archetype of our Oneness with the Earth. Compass Books. ISBN 0-9517038-1-1.
  • Buxbaum, Tim (1987). Scottish Doocots. Pub. Shire No.190. ISBN 0-85263-848-5
  • Evans, Tony & Green, Candida Lycett Green (1982). English Cottages. Pub. London.
  • Ferguson, Robert (2005). A Miller's Tale. The Life and Times of Dalgarven Mill. ISBN 0-9550935-0-3
  • Foster, A.M. (1988). Bee Boles and Bee Hives. Shire Publications. ISBN 0-85263-903-1
  • Gauldie, Enid (1981). The Scottish Miller 1700 - 1900. Pub. John Donald. ISBN 0-85976-067-7.
  • McKean, Charles (2001). The Scottish Chateau. Sutton Publishing. ISBN 0-7509-2323-7
  • More, Daphne (1976). The Bee Book. David & Charles. ISBN 0-7153-7268-8
  • Peters, J.E.C. (2003). Discovering Traditional Farm Buildings. Shire Books. ISBN 0-85263-556-7
  • Quiney, Anthony. (1995). The Traditional Buildings of England. Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0-500-27661-7
  • Rodger, Donald, Stokes, John & Ogilve, James (2006). Heritage Trees of Scotland. The Tree Council. ISBN 0-904853-03-9
  • Service, John (Editor) (1887). The Life & Recollections of Doctor Duguid of Kilwinning. Pub. Young J. Pentland.


External linksEdit

Last modified on 14 July 2007, at 15:36