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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1976 (SND Vol. X).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

WART, n. Also ward; vo(a)rd. [wɑrt]

1. A lookout point on high ground, a mound, cairn, beacon or watch-tower from which signals were made (I.Sc. 1825 Jam., ward, wart, 1866 Edm. Gl., vord, wart; Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; Ork. 1929 Marw.; Cai. 1931; I.Sc. 1973); the beacon or fire kindled on the mound (Sh. 1825 Jam.). Hist. and surviving in place-names, as the Ward of Bressay, Husavord, Wart of Crook, etc. Combs. wart-hill, wart-house, id.Sh. 1701 J. Brand Descr. Ork. 39:
In every Isle there is a Wart or Ward-Hill, the highest Hill in the Isle, on the top whereof they used to kindle a fire, when they saw an Enemy approaching.
Sh. 1771 Old-Lord Misc. V. iii. 128:
The warts or voards or voard-houses as they are differently named, meaning the same thing, are heaps of stones on the heights of hills, which often serve for marches betwixt scattalds, and are said to have been antiently used as watch towers.
Sh. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 V. 184:
The ancient inhabitants of these islands set up, on the eminences round the harbours, warts, or marks to direct the course of vessels sailing along the coast.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 141:
I stilter tae the Wart-hill tap.
Sh. 1891 J. Burgess Rasmie's Büddie 61:
Jüst till da mün her colly bricht Hings ower da Wart.
Ork. 1920 J. Firth Reminisc. 2:
From the summit, named the Wart of Redland, can be seen all the North Isles.
Sh. 1957 J. Stewart Sh. Archaeology 50:
Cairns on a hilltop or hill-shoulder and often destroyed to build “warts” or watch places in Norse times.

2. A small shelter built of stone (Ork. 1950), dim. warto, id., “a pillar of stones made by boys, e.g. to shelter behind when herding” (Ork. 1929 Marw., Ork. 1950). See -O, suff., 1.

[O.Sc. warth, = 1., 1625, Norw. varde, O.N. varða, a pile of stones raised as a mark, a beacon.]

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"Wart n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 May 2024 <>



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