A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

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Beltane, n. Also: Beltan, -ain(e, -ayne, -ene, -ein, -en, -yn, Beiltyne. See also Beltyme. [Gael. bealltainn, -tuinn, Ir. bealltaine, OIr. belltaine, beltene, -tine, of obscure origin.]

1. The first or third day of May. Clearly identified with May 1 only in quot. 1511. Quhar it beis tayntyt that … the birdis be flowin and the nestis be fundyn in the treis at beltane; 1424 Acts II. 6/1.
Vmfra sall deliuer & pay to the said Johne ix tidy ky … at beltan nixt tocum; 1484 Acta Aud. 134*/2.
The fest of Beltene, callit Philip and Iacob; 1511 Lennox Mun. 191.
About Beltane quhen grene leuis began To spring and spreid; Stewart 10426.
At beltane quhen ilk bodie bownis To Peblis to the play; Peblis to Play i.
The town & fredom to be red betuix and beltane next to com; 1559 Prestwick B. Rec. 10.
Betuex Beltan and Sant James day; 1571 Lanark B. Rec. 64.
Befoir Beltein las[t] wes … the said Hew pindit my kow; 1581 Ib. 81.
Ane yow scheip put to him … with uther scheip at Beltane wes ane yeir; 1594 Paisley B. Rec. 158.
Ye will get war bods or Belten; Ferg. Prov. 112.
Aucht dayis befoir beltane last; 1615 Highland P. III. 195.
For awaytakeing of ane foredoor frae the house … at beltane last; 1677 Corshill Baron-Ct. 140.

b. Identified with the church-festival of the Invention of the Cross, May 3. Frequent in documents of the 16th century. Gilbert the Haia … is nocht yheit of lauchfull age, bot he sall be … at the fest of the Inuencion of the Halicroice, callit Beltane; 1456 5th Rep. Hist. MSS. App. 625/1.
The … arbitouris sall … deliuer on the samyn [matter] betuix this and the fest of the cors callit beltane nixt to cum; 1489 Acta Aud. 142/1.
The entre of the said David beginnand at the fest of S. Elene callit Beltane; 1509 Reg. Privy S. I. 285/1.
For … nynetene ȝeris, nixt and immediatlye following the termes of Beltane, the Inventioun of the Haly Croce, and Lames callit ad vincula Sancti Petri; 1539 Reg. Cupar A. II. 5.
Sanct Helyn daye callit belten or the inuentione of the hali cros; 1551 Prot. Bk. W. Corbet 16.
Quhilk entres in and to the vicarage … began at the Feist of Rudeday callit the Inventioun of the Cross alias Beltyn; 1588 Antiq. Aberd. & B. II. 349.

c. Mentioned as a term-day or quarter-day without exact specification of date. Examples belonging to the previous section indicate May 3 as the usual date. When mentioned with other terms or quarterdays, Beltane takes the place of Whitsunday, but there is no evidence that it was actually identical with this. Thom Fyldar … sal pay for his fredome x s. at thwa termis, that is to say Beltain the ta half and Bartylmes the tothir half; 1456 Peebles B. Rec. 113.
Willi Red … sal pay … at Beltan v s. and at Mechelmes other v s.; 1457 Ib. 125.
Removere se et sua inter hinc et proximum vsualem terminum, viz. le Beltan, de dictis terris; 1508 Glasgow Dioc. Reg. II. 271.
Payand ȝerlie thre thovsand merkis, at Beltane and Lammes, be equal portionis; 1541 Crim. Trials I. i. 257.
The entrie of these [ministers, etc.] that ar presented, to be at Allhallowmes, Lambmes, Candlemes or Beltan; 1562 Bk. Univ. Kirk I. 27.
Att four termes in the ȝeir, viz. Alhalowmes, Candilmes, Beltan, and Lambmes; 1582 Conv. Burghs I. 160.
Payand … four bollis beir … at Candilmes and Beltane; 1604 Liber Dryburgh 320.
To be payit … at Candilmes, Beltan, Lambmes, and Allhallowday proportionalie; 1659 Irvine Mun. II. 83.
Item for quarter comptis at Beltane; 1670 Glasgow Weavers 80.

2. pl. (See quotation.) You have Skill of Man and Beast, you was born between the Beltans [note. The first and eighth of May]; 1721 Kelly Proverbs 376.

3. Attrib. with buke, compt, court, day, fair(-day). Beltane buke, a book of accounts in which the reckoning was made at Beltane in each year. As to my movabill gudis & geir … I refer to my beltane buke; 1575 Edinb. Test. III. 257 b.
He referris the inventar of his guidis & geir to his beltane buikis; 1593 Ib. XXVI. 29.
My guidis & geir … according to my beltane & compt buik; 1605 Ib. XL. 278.
Remanyng upone the clipping of the scheip, and making of the beltane compts thairof; 1542 Treas. Acc. VIII. 91.
Pro expensis domini cancellarii ibidem [sc. apud Newuarche] existentis in curia que vocatur Beltanecourt; 1457 Exch. R. VI. 372.
Exitus unius curie dicte Beltanecourt; 1481 Ib. IX. 134.
On Beltane Day, in the yeir nixt following, callit the Inventioun of the Haly Croce; Bell. Boece II. 499.
On beltane day last; 1616 Orkney & Zetl. Sheriff Ct. 73.
The thrid day of Maij callit Beltane day; 1641 Acts V. 500/2.
The fair day commonlie called Beltane day, falles this year upon the Satterday; 1656 Peebles B. Rec. II. 34.
The said fair called Beltane fair-day shalbe kept … this year upon the first Weddensday of Maii; 1656 Ib. II. 34.
1696 Ib. 154.

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"Beltane n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 26 Sep 2021 <https://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/dost/beltane>



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