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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.

CAUL, CAULD, Call, n.1 and v. Also caal (Dmf. 1812 W. Singer Agric. Dmf. 492). [kɑ(:)l(d)]

1. n. A weir or dam on a river to divert the water into the mill-lade (Tweeddale 1935 (per Lnk.3), caut; Kcb.1 1938; Rxb. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 III. 160, call). “Applied to a dam on the River Ardle in Perthshire at Kirkmichael” (Fif.1 1938).Abd. 2000 Sheena Blackhall The Singing Bird 2:
Dreich clouds, a flicht o greylags ben the lift,
Drookit biggins squar on tae the caal,
Driftwid duntin tarry at the quay,
Dreary a skiffie trauchles hame twa-fauld.
Bwk. 1839 Proc. Bwk. Nat. Club I. 184:
The whole of the water was diverted into the mill-lead by means of a cauld or weir.
Gall. 1934 M. Warrick in Gallov. Annual 18:
Dark, deep, and strong the river ran beneath the high-peaked bridge; then with a sullen roar it dropped — a foaming line of snow-white fury — beneath a high-banked caul.
Kcb., Dmf. 1988 W. A. D. and D. Riach A Galloway Glossary :
caul an embankment built across a river or inlet of sea to divert water.
w.Dmf. 1899 J. Shaw Country Schoolmaster 339:
Point out a dam — they cry, oh, that's the “caul.”
Rxb. 1918 Jedburgh Gazette (25 Jan.) 2/4:
The break-up of the ice and the flooding of the river that followed the thaw did some damage to Hundalee Mill cauld, and also to the cauld at Mossburnford.
Dmf. 1705 in W. McDowall Hist. Dumfries (1867) xxxix. 544:
Ane sufficient miln . . . with a sufficient caul and other pertinents.
Dmf. 1997 Nell Thomson Spit the First Sook 15:
Often I sat on the bank of the Dalwhat Water at Caitlock cave, where there was a caul, and watched the salmon go upstream to spawn.
Dmf. 2002:
The caul across the Nith in Dumfries was built to control the water supply to the mill that used to be where the Burns Centre is now.

Comb.: cauld back, “a dam-head” (Rxb. 1770 J. Ainslie Plan of Jedburgh); “still in local use” (Rxb.3 1940).

2. v. (See first quot.)s.Sc. 1825 Jam.2:
To caul the bank of a river, is to lay a bed of loose stones from the channel of the river backwards, as far as may be necessary, for defending the land against the inroads of the water.
Slk. 1886 J. Russell Reminisc. Yarrow ix.:
The stones were handy for caulding the river.
Dmf. 1794 William Grierson in John David Apostle to Burns (1981) 22:
I wished to know what was the reason they were not begun to the cauling the water... editor's note: Damming a river with a collection of stones laid so as to stop the encroachment of the water.

[O.Sc. has caul(l), cauld, caal, n., as above, the examples coming entirely from Peebles records from 1556–1567 (D.O.S.T.).]

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



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