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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1952 (SND Vol. III).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

DUN, Doon, n. Also †doun(e) (Rs. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XI. 465, doun). A pre-historic fort, gen. on a high or isolated site and consisting of concentric works of earth or stone; any similar defensive structure, e.g. a Broch. In gen. use as an archæol. term. Comb. doon-hill (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 178). [du:n]Sc. 1774 T. Pennant Tour 1772 293:
These fortresses are called universally in the Erse, Duns.
w.Sc. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XIX. 288:
At Carlaway, there is a Danish fort, or doune, with a double wall of dry stone; . . . it is very broad at the base, and towards the top contracts in the form of a pyramid; the height of the wall is 30 feet; the fabric is perfectly circular.
w.Sc. 1865 A. Smith Summer in Skye II. 55:
We then climbed up to the crown of the hill to visit the traces of an old fortification, or dün, as the Skye people call it . . . a loose congregation of mighty stones, scattered in a circular form, with some rude remnants of an entrance and a covered way.
w.Sc. 1928 Hist. Mon. Comm. Outer Hebrides, Skye and the Small Isles, Intro. xvi.:
The term Dùn is popularly given to any type of defensive construction and occasionally to a monument not of that character.
Arg. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XIV. 256:
Duns are very numerous, not only in this, but in all parishes in the Highlands. . . . They are supposed to have been places for kindling fires on, for the purpose of warning the country, and summoning the people to assemble for the common defence, on the sudden appearance of an enemy.
Wgt. 1875 W. McIlwraith Guide Wgtsh. (1877) 138:
He finds the remains of a “doon”, “fort” or circular tower of some sort.
Dmf. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 IV. 57:
The cottage where the king slept, near the small doon called the Shapel hill.

[Gael. dùn, a fortress, fortification; Ir. dún, a fort.]

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"Dun n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 May 2024 <>



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