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

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First published 1963 (DOST Vol. III).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Knapscall, Knapscaw, Knapska, n. Also: knap-, knawpskal(l, knap(p)iscall, -skal(l, knaips(c)hal(l; knapscull, knapp-, cnapscull; knap-, knaip-, knap(p)iskaw, knapiscaw, knaippiscaw, knap-, knaipschaw; knapsca, -scha, knap(p)isca, -ska, knaipska, knapsco; knapskay, knapiskay. [Late north. ME. (once) knapescall (1498), otherwise only Sc. Cf. also Clapschall and Knopska. a.Origin obscure; but possibly a fanciful or jocular formation, perh. with Knap v. in some such sense as ‘clap, snap (on or over)’ as the first element.In the form knapscull (if this is not merely due to misreading) the second element appears to be conformed to e.m.E. and ME. scull(e the cranium. which also (1522–a 1674) = a defensive skull-cap appar. sim. to or the same as a knapscall.]

A kind of close-fitting metal defensive headpiece, a metal skull-cap, commonly worn under a bonnet or other fabric covering. Common in the 16th c.Appar. at first restricted to the metal cap alone, but latterly sometimes applied to the metal ‘shell’ and the bonnet or covering together, as also in Knapscall-bonnet.(a) 1494 Treas. Acc. I. 225.
For ij knapscallis to ryd wyth xijs.
1500 Acta Conc. II. 468.
Ane knapskall, the price v s.
1530 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 130.
To euery port twa men … with jak and knapscall, Dense aix or halbart
1533–4 Melville Chart. 71.
The lard … hewand his jak and knapskall tursit reddy with hyme
1564 Perth B. Ct. MS. 143.
Ane suerd, ane buklar, ane jak, ane knawpskall
1581 Edinb. Test. IX. 186.
Tua dosane of how bonettis for knapscallis
1583 Ib. 355 b.
xij covering bonettis to be knappiscallis estimat all to xij li. xvj s.
1585 Reg. Morton I. 145.
With euerie horse a sufficient able careage man with knapscall and lance staff
1597 Skene Verb. S. (1599) s.v. Actilia.
Ane knapiskal of irone
1600 Acts IV. 206/2.
That the Erle [of Gowrie] had this deponaris knaipschall on his heid
(b) 1572 Sat. P. xxxiii. 264.
Quhair sic wer wont to ride furth to the weir With jak and sword, gude hors, knapscull, & speir
1583 Elgin Rec. I. 172.
Ane jak, ane knappscull, ane javelling
(c) 1497 Treas. Acc. I. 373.
For ane knapskaw to the King to turs our the Month v s.
1506–7 Ib. III. 250.
For ane bonet to the Kingis knapscaw
1507–8 Ib. IV. 101.
For ane sellat to mak gwn powdir vij s. Item, for ane knapscaw to the samyn, iiij s.
1540 Lynd. Sat. Procl. 262.
My gluvis of plait and knapskaw
1542 Rec. Univ. Aberd. 577.
To brog staffis, ane sellat, ane knapscaw, and ane pair af splentis
1546 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 236.
Ane knapiscaw, the price xiiij s.
1552–3 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 177.
That … all … occupyaris of buith [etc.] … in the he gait … that thai haue lang walpynnis thairin … with knaipskawis and jakkis
1568 Edinb. Test. 169.
Ane knapiskaw coverit with blak and ane tippet of taffety
1570 Selkirk B. Ct. MS.
That they haif sufficient wappynis as … lance stauf and knappiskaw
1590 Aberd. B. Rec. II. 68.
To assembill … with … knappiskaw [etc.]
(d) 1557 Acts & Decr. XV. 69.
Jak, knapska, suerd
1560 Stirling B. Rec. I. 72.
Arschip gudis … , ane quhinger … , ane jedward staf, ane knapska with the covering
a1568 Bann. MS. 64 a/14.
It war full meit … That all this pryd of silk war … chengit in jak knapska & abirgoun
1573 Reg. Privy C. II. 244.
Bodin in feir of weare, with swerdis, knapskais and pistolletis
1576 Orkney Oppress. 78.
Henrie Halcro … deponis … that he saw … sum of thame puttand on thair knapscais, and prepairand thame for tuilȝie
a1578 Pitsc. II. 58/30.
In maist weirlyk array witht jake, knapsco, splent and speir and aixe
1585 Prot. Bk. G. Fyiff 39.
Ane schell of ane knapska
1585–6 J. Carmichael in Misc. Wodrow Soc. 442.
As He did use yow to go before uthers in the beginning of the Reformation with the reade knapska
1597 Skene Verb. S. s.v. Actilia.
Quha-sa-euer hes nocht ane acton, and Basnet, sall haue ane … habirgeon … ane knapiska of irone and gluifes
1598 Elgin Rec. I. 221.
Uthir fourtie with bow, knaipskais, swordis and targis, according to the hiland custowme
1638 Adamson Muses Thr. 4.
The … great harthorn … On which did hing his velvet knapsca, A scimitar cut like a hacsaw
(e) 1567 Bamff Chart. 70.
Ane knapskay, price xxvj s. viij d.
1588 Edinb. Test. XIX. 25.
I leif … to … my broder sone … my knapskay, suord [etc.]
1609 Skene Reg. Maj. ii. 6.
He quha hes fiftene pond land … sall haue ane horse, ane habergeon, ane knapiskay of iron, [etc.]
Ib. 24.

b. Attrib. and comb. With makar, schell, covering and tippet and in Knapscall-bonnet.(1) 1529–30 M. Works Acc. (ed.) 4.
To the knaippiscaw makar for ane greit ladill to the castyne of boltis
(2) 1574 Elgin Rec. I. 148.
[He] wes decernit to pay … xx s. … for the rest of certane knappiscall schellis
1584 Ib. 176.
Alexander Annand … to deliver to the said Johne ane new knappiscall schell with ane new blak cowering thairof
(3) 1585 Edinb. Test. XIV. 253.
xj knappiscall coveringis price of the pece [22/6d.]
(4) a1605 Birrel Diary 27.
The said lord's [sc. the Earl of Moray's] cnapscull tippet, quherone ves a silk stringe, had taken fyre, vich bewrayed him to his enimies

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"Knapscall n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 May 2024 <>



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