Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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URE, n.4 Also uir, ør (Jak.). [ør. er-]

1. An eighth part of a Norse mark of weight, equivalent to an ounce. See Merk, 1. Hist. Sh. 1822  S. Hibbert Description 178:
The division, therefore, of a Mark-Weight of this substance into eight Ures or ounces appears to have suggested a name for the same number of portions into which a mark of land began to be resolved.

2. The monetary value of an ounce of silver used as a unit in calculations for the imposition of Skatt, q.v.; hence, in Sh. and Ork., a piece of land assessed to this amount, corresponding to the Celtic Davach which it superseded in the Norse areas of the West of Scotland (Sh. 1808 Jam., 1866 Edm. Gl.). See A. McKerral in P.S.A.S. LXXVIII. 54 sqq., H. Marwick Orkney Farm Names (1952) Part ii. Also in phr. and comb. ure (of) land, ur(i)sland, ures-, uirs-, id. See also Eyrisland. Obs. exc. hist. and in place-names. Ork. 1701  in A. W. Johnston Church Ork. (1940) 64:
The elders willingly did undertak to uplift and collect [pew-money] in their several urslands.
Ork. 1760  Morison Decisions 13529:
The two urislands which seem to have been entire tenements, now divided into penny-lands.
Sh. 1772  A. C. O'Dell Hist. Geog. Sh. (1939) 240:
The Towns are subdivided everywhere into merklands and these into ures, an ure being the eighth part of a merk.
Sh. 1795  Stat. Acc.1 XXI. 278:
In these parishes there are 1618 merks 4 ures of land.
Ork. 1814  J. Shirreff Agric. Ork. 31:
The lands in Orkney had been early divided into ure or ounce lands, and each ounce land into eighteen penny lands.
Sh. 1821  Scott Pirate i.:
In another century scarce a merk — scarce even an ure of land, would be in the possession of the Norse inhabitants.
Sh. 1884  Crofters' Comm. Evidence II. 1403:
The unit of extent is the merk or mark, which originally was held to comprise 1600 square fathoms, but is now, owing to variation in the quality of the soil, of uncertain extent, comprising any amount of land from three-quarters of an acre to fourteen acres. Two or three acres may be considered a fair average. Each merk is divided into eight ures or ounces.
Ork. 1927  J. S. Clouston Orkney Parishes xv.:
In all Orkney deeds and rentals the term for an 18 pennyland was “ursland” or “urisland” (corruptions of eyrisland), but this term was also used of certain districts, which sometimes actually consisted of an 18d. land, but more often did not.

[Norw. dial. øyre, a certain sum paid as ground rent, from øre, O.N. eyrir, an ounce of silver, the eighth part of a mark, eyrisland, ounceland. O.Sc. ure, = 2., 1503, urisland, 1492.]

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"Ure n.4". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Oct 2018 <>



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