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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

LAW, n.2 Also la; †lea(u)w, †loaw. [lǫ:, lɑ:, ne.Sc. †ljɑ:(v)]

1. A rounded hill (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 312), gen. of a somewhat conical shape and freq. isolated or conspicuous among others, e.g. Dundee Law, Largo Law, Berwick Law, Broad Law. The word is particularly common as a place-name in the em. and s.Sc. areas.Rxb. 1717 J. J. Vernon Par. Hawick (1900) 134:
From the bridge to the foot of the play la.
Peb. 1775 M. J. Armstrong Tweedale 49:
Hills are … variously named, according to their magnitude; as Law, Pen, Kipp, etc.
Ayr. 1790 Burns Silver Tassie i.:
The ship rides by the Berwick-Law.
Per. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 III. 309:
A place called Castle-law. It is situated upon the summit of a very high hill, which resembles a low cone.
Sc. 1828 Scott O. Mortality Note 23:
They are said to have outstripped and coted, or turned, a hare upon the Bran Law, near the head of Moffat water.
Slk. 1832 Hogg in Trans. Highl. Soc. 285:
The common green dumpling-looking hills . . . generally named Laws.
Fif. 1876 A. Laing Lindores Abbey 16:
The term “Law” is applied to many of the heights in the neighbourhood.
Dmf. 1878 R. W. Thom Jock o' the Knowe 79:
The white croon'd law blithe spring can thaw.
m.Sc. 1917 J. Buchan Poems 60:
My mind was far awa' In the peace o' a simmer glen, Daunderin' hame ower the heathery law.
Abd. 1931 Abd. Press & Jnl. (19 Feb.):
Fae babbinqua, fae laich an' law They're brattlin for the bruilzie.

2. An artificial mound or hillock, specif.: (1) a tumulus or barrow, grave-mound.Abd. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XI. 408 Note:
A law was lately opened on the farm of Strathairy, in which was found a small urn containing some ashes.
Ags. Ib. II. 488:
There are two artificial mounds in the parish … which are commonly called Laws.
m.Lth. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 I. 373:
The tumuli or cairns in Scotland are also known by the name of laws or barrows.

(2) a mound of earth and shingle on the bank of a river on to which salmon nets are drawn to be emptied (Abd. 1825 Jam.).Abd. 1693 Session Papers, Leslie v. Fraser (29 March 1805) 331:
The net may be moveable by flood and ebb and fellit, and brought home to the law in a formal shot, fit for slaying salmon.
Abd. 1795 Ib. 91, 138:
He does not know if any leaws must be made at any part of the water-side, but he knows of no bulwark. … A Leaw is a place wherever a net can be hauled ashore.

[O.Sc. lau, c.1150, lawe, 1374, = 1., 1674, = 2. (2). North. Mid.Eng. lau, id., O.E. hlāw, a (grave-)mound, a hill.]

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"Law n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 2 Dec 2022 <>



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