Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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EYRISLAND, n. Also erseland, er(i)s-, erys-, ur(i)s-, uirs-.

1. A division of land in Ork., the 1/8 part of a markland, giving the rent of the eighth part of a mark = 18 pennylands (Ork. 1929 Marw., ur(i)sland, uirsland). Now obs. except hist. Ork. 1772  G. Gifford in
G. Low Orkney (1879) 144:
Our Ure or Ursland (Eyre) contains 18 Pennylands.
Ork. 1795  Stat. Acc.1 XIV. 323:
Remains of Popish chapels are many, because every Erysland of 18 penny land had one for matins and vespers, but now all are in ruins.
Ork. 1805  G. Barry Hist. of Ork. 187:
The islands were divided into Euslands [sic] or Ounce-lands, every one of which made the eighth part of a Mark land, and was deemed sufficient for the support of a chief and his soldiers.
Ork. 1929  Marw. 202:
The term is constantly recurring in the early Rentals (from 1492 down), and in the form ersland is still remembered today, in Harray and one or two other parishes. Usually, the subdivision of a parish now remembered as an ersland corresponds exactly with what was an actual urisland of 18 pennylands, and there can be no doubt as to the original identity of the terms.

2. A part of a parish which went as a unit for burial arrangements (Ork. 1929 Marw., ersland), and other church purposes. Ork. 1801  in A. W. Johnston Church in Ork. (1940) 64:
The elders willingly did undertak to uplift and collect in their several urslands.
Ork. 1914  J. Firth in Old-Lore Misc. VII. iv. 154:
The districts of Redland and Settiscarth were always spoken of as erseland, and by virtue of this union it was the bounden duty of the men in one district to attend all funerals in the other.
Ork. 1927  J. S. Clouston (ed.) Ork. Par. Intro. xx.:
The existence within the parish of certain definite districts, in most parishes called Urslands, and evidently founded originally upon the eyrislands . . . since they are remembered today as districts whose inhabitants had all to attend the funeral of anyone who died within the district, and bear the coffin to the parish kirk.

[O.N. eyrir, gen. -is, pl. aurar, ounce of silver, the eighth part of a mark; eyrisland, land yielding the rent of an eyrir.]

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"Eyrisland n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Oct 2018 <>



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