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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1941 (SND Vol. II). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

BROCH, Brough, Brogh, Brugh, Bruch, n.1 and v. [brɔx, brʌx]

I. n.

1. A  late prehistoric structure (dating mainly from the first century BCE and the first two centuries CE) found mainly in Ork and Sh, the Western Isles and the adjacent Scottish mainland, consisting of a large round dwelling of varied height with hollow stone-built walls; popularly but erroneously supposed to have been built by the Picts (s.v. Pecht n., v. I. 1.), now in general use as an archaeological term.Sc. 1988 Scotsman 31 Dec 12:
She was missing overnight and the whole township was looking for her. In the broch, she was, stiff with fear and her eyes wide and black.
Sh. 1934 W. Moffatt Shetland 139:
It has been noticed that these brochs in Shetland form a line of defence by the sea, as if built for protection against the invading Celts.
Ork. 1806 P. Neill Tour through . . . Ork. and Sh. 80:
We viewed the Pechts' Brough, or little circular fort, which has given name to the place. It is nearly of the same dimensions and construction with the many other broughs or pechts-forts in Shetland. . . . These broughs seem to have been calculated to communicate by signals with each other; the site of one being uniformly seen from that of some other.
Cai. 1929 J. Mowat Caithness Forum in John o' Groat Jnl. (13 Dec.):
Look at John himsel' lookin' at some broch or ither.
Mry. 1739 Session Papers, Hutchison v. Corporation Wrights (2 Oct. 1793) 11:
The closs and yeard laying upon the north side of the broch of Elgin.
 Ags. 1826 A. Balfour Highland Mary I. i.:
The general comes to the brugh only ance in seven year.
Fif. 1985 Christopher Rush A Twelvemonth and a Day 140:
The doocot was rather like a miniature broch, a fifteen foot round-tower with a wide base, tapering to a small grassy top, on which two or three adventurers might stand, as if on a bastion, and take a survey of the land and sea.

Hence broch-dweller, a dweller in a broch.Sh. 1871 R. Cowie Shetland 239:
Some solitary family contemporary with the broch-dwellers.

2. A burgh or town; also used as a proper name to indicate the nearest town. Gen. now applied to Burghead (Mry.1 1925; Bnff.2 1936) and to Fraserburgh (Bnff.2, Abd. 1936 (per Fif.10)). See also Burgh, n.1 and Broch.Sc. 1832–1846 J. Watson in Whistle-Binkie (5th Series) 48:
An' hame frae the bruch, wi' the gudes and the gear, Hipp, Mally! Whoo, whoo ye, cam' Whistlin' Tam.
ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore of N.-E. Scot. 109:
Aberdeen will be a green, An Banff a borough's toon, But Fraserbroch 'ill be a broch When a' the brochs is deen.
Abd.(D) 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xl.:
Weel, but it's a lang road atween this an' the Broch [Kintore], min' ye.
Abd. 1988 Jack Webster Another Grain of Truth (1989) 17:
...the junction where the train from Aberdeen split into two sections one for Fraserburgh (or the Broch, as we knew it)...
Edb. [1826] R. Chambers Pop. Rhymes (1870) 248:
Musselbrogh was a brogh When Edinbrogh was nane.
Rnf. 1836 R. Allan Poems and Songs 84:
They're up — they're up in brugh and town!
Ayr. 1705 Corshill Baron Court Bk. (5 July) in Arch. and Hist. Collections of Ayr. and Wgt. (1884) IV. 208:
At the mercat Croce of Irvine, head Brough of the Bailliarie of Cuninghame.

Comb.: brugh royall, a Scottish borough which derives its charter directly from the Crown. See Burgh, n.1, 4 (9).Sc. c.1704 Sir K. Mackenzie in Earls of Crm. (ed. Fraser 1876) II. 414:
He . . . told me to my face he woud make Cromertie a brugh royall.

3. (1) A halo round the sun or moon, usually the latter, indicating bad weather. Often found in proverbial sayings. Gen.Sc.Sc. [1862] A. Hislop Proverbs (1870) 15:
About the moon there is a brugh: the weather will be cauld and rough.
Bnff.3 1910:
A broch roun' the meen i' the e'enin', a “peel” roun' the midden i' the mornin'.
Abd. 1914 A. Mackie W.-L.:
“The further the broch the nearer the rauch,” if the “broch” is far out from the moon, the “rauch” (storm) is very near.
Abd. 1928 N. Shepherd The Quarry Wood iii.:
With the moon riding overhead and round her half the heaven swirling in an enormous broch.
Ags. 1776 C. Keith Farmer's Ha' xxi.:
For she saw round about the moon A mieckle brough.
Edb. 1897 P. H. Hunter J. Armiger's Revenge vii:
There was a queer brugh round her [the new moon] last nicht.
Ayr.4 1928:
When the bruch's near, the storm's far.
Dmf. 1925 W. A. Scott in Trans. Dmf. and Gall. Antiq. Soc. 19:
A far-away brough's a near-hand storm.
Uls. 1901 J. W. Byers Ulster Sayings and Folk-lore, Lecture 11, in North. Whig:
Bad weather may be expected (such is the current idea) when the moon is “on her back with the new moon in her arms, and a brough round her.”

(2) (1) As an extension of the above meaning, used to denote any kind of circle or halo.Per. 1857 J. Stewart Sketches 145:
Wi' draps o' drink on Saturdays, there's some get roarin' fou — There's quarrelin', an' crackit croons, an' een wi' brochs o' blue.

(2): a ring of liquid retained round the lips by the moustache and beard when drinking.Fif. 1875 A. Burgess Bk. Nethercaps 81:
Lickin' the broch frae their mou'.

4. In games: (1) A circle round the tee in a curling rink (Abd.9 1936).Dmf. 1830 Mem. Curl. Mab. (ed. R. Brown) 72:
Now, soop the rinks, lads, wide enough, The hog-scores draw — and ring ilk brough.

Hence brugher, brucher, “a stone which comes within these circles [two circles drawn round the tee on a curling-rink]” (Cld. 1825 Jam.2).

(2) “Circle for the game of marbles” (Rnf.1 c.1920, bruch). Cf. Brook, n.3, 1.

II. v. To surround with a ring or halo.wm.Sc. 1937 W. Hutcheson Chota Chants 40:
The breeze blaws sneller, and the blirting shower Besoaks the mools and broughs the waning moon.

[O.Sc. broch, brogh, a borough; a Pictish broch; bruch, bruche, a borough, a ring or halo (D.O.S.T.). Cf. O.N. borg, castle, stronghold (Zoëga), O.E. burh.]

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"Broch n.1, v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Jul 2024 <>



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