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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

OUNCELAND, n.comb. A measure of land in Shetland, Orkney, Caithness and western Scotland, formerly under Norse sovereignty, orig. corresponding to an earlier Celtic land division (see 1944 quot.) and consisting of eighteen (or twenty) Pennylands (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.), so called because the land in question had to pay a scat or tax of one ounce of silver to the Norse overlord. Obs. exc. hist. The native term is Urisland, of which ounceland is the translated form.Ork. 1800 G. Barry Hist. Ork. 189:
The islands were divided into Euslands or Ouncelands, every one of which made the eighth part of a Markland.
Sh. 1822 S. Hibbert Descr. Shet. 301:
A mark of land was thus divided into eight ures or ounces; each ounce-land into eighteen penny-lands, and each penny-land into four farthing-lands.
Sc. 1887 Scotsman (28 Dec.):
In the Western Isles and thence to Argyll . . . the unit is the ounce-land, the land which paid to the earl an ounce of silver.
Sc. 1944 P.S.A.S. LXXVIII. 55:
The davach, pit, or bally of Celtic times became known as the ounceland. In the Latin charters this is called Unciata, but this latter word was translated back into Gaelic as Tirunga from G. tir, meaning land. and unga, meaning an ounce.

[A translation of O.N. eyrisland, land giving the rent of an eyrir or ounce.]

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"Ounceland n. comb.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 May 2024 <>



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