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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1976 (SND Vol. X).

WAG, n.2 Also uag. Gael. A name applied in Caithness to the remains of iron-age houses, both circular and oblong, somewhat sunken in the ground and built of massive drystone masonry with internal stone pillars for roof-support. Some archaeologists restrict the term to the round structures which are probably pre-broch and related to duns and wheelhouses found in other parts of n.Scot. The oblong houses are agreed to be later, though their origin and history is disputed. See P.S.A.S. LXXV. 23 ff., LXXXII. 275 ff.Cai. 1769 T. Pennant Tour 1772 (1776) II. Add. 19:
Their length is from fifty to sixty feet. These buildings are only in places where the great flags are plentiful. In Glen-Loth are three, and are called by the country people Uags.
Cai. 1911 P.S.A.S. XLVI. 89:
To the galleried structure the name “wag” in former times was evidently applied and still remains in use, though now transferred from the structure to the place or site, e.g. “Wag-more rig”, “Wag burn”, and “the Wag”, with in each case one or more of these ruins in the immediate neighbourhood.
Cai. 1971 The Dark Ages in the Highlands (Inverness Field Club) 16:
A circular building was found (the “wag”) about 54 feet in diameter with a four foot thick wall; from its design and the massive character of its masonry it seems likely to be a fortification, a dun in fact.

[Bookish adaptation of Gael. uamhag [uɑg], dim. form of uamh, a cave, hollow.]

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"Wag n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 6 Oct 2022 <>



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