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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1960 (SND Vol. V). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.

HALLAN, n. Also †halling; -and (Sc. 1808 Jam.), -ant (Fif. 1956), halan', †halend (Sc. 1728 P. Walker Six Saints (1901) I. 134); hallun, hollan (Uls. 1942 E. Evans Irish Heritage 68); hallen, -on, hal(l)in. [′hɑlən, ′hɑɪn]

1. An inner wall, partition or screen erected in a cottage between the door and the fireplace to act as a shield from the draught of the door, gen. composed of mud or clay mixed with stones or moulded over a wood and straw framework (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 251; Cai. 1956); also used to denote a similar partition of stone or clay in a byre or stable or between the living room and the byre (Rs. 1919 T.S.D.C. III.; Cai. 1952 Builder (20 June) 952). Gen. (exc. I.) Sc., obsol.Sc. 1707 Fountainhall Decisions II. 405:
For his own easier dwelling or accommodation, as striking out new windows, or glazing them, or making a halling to break the wind.
Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 153:
Hab got a Kent, — stood by the Hallan.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (1925) 38:
The gudeman, new come hame, is blyth to find, Whan he out o'er the halland flings his een.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Cottar's Sat. Night xi.:
The soupe their only Hawkie does afford, That 'yont the hallan snugly chows her cood.
Slk. 1810 Hogg Poet. Wks. (1874) 384:
Sic joys will never glad my heart As I've had by thy hallan sittin'.
Sc. 1814 Scott Waverley xi.:
She sat quietly beyond the hallan, or earthen partition of the cottage.
Per. 1836 J. Shearer Antiq. Strathearn (1881) 62:
After [the cobbler] had taken his station behind the hallan, he says, “Will ye mend my shoes, gudeman, and I will pay you?”
Dwn. 1844 R. Huddleston Poems 15:
The aul' cly hallun shook wi' la'ghin'.
Lnk. 1853 W. Watson Poems 30:
There ance stood a biggin o' canny expense, A hallan dividet the kitchen an' spence.
Mry. 1865 W.H.L. Tester Poems 146:
Dowffed his bannet i' the neuk . . . Robin's Hallan, tremblin, shook.
Kcb. 1894 Crockett Raiders v.:
Now the lads . . . were hid at the end of the hallan where the passage led from the back door out upon the moor.
Cai. 1916 John o' Groat Jnl. (31 March):
Very often the byre was joined to the main-house, the cattle and family entering by the same door. “Hallans” divided the animals, “asks” held them.
Abd.15 c.1928:
I once saw a clay hallan in an old farm byre (thatch-roofed), about 40 years ago. The farmer, then an old man, said he constructed it himself by first forming a network of straw ropes which he plastered on both sides with clay, thus forming a wall that looked almost as neat as plaster-lath work. The “hallan” extended from the apex of the roof to the level of the eaves — the walls being built of stone and clay.

2. The inside porch, lobby or passage formed by such a partition.Hdg. a.1801 R. Gall Poems (1819) 66:
How kind she met us at the hallan, Led to the ha'.
Rnf. 1807 R. Tannahill Soldiers Return i. i.:
Deil, nor ye'd broke your leg, gaun cross the hallan.
Lnk. 1881 D. Thomson Musings 94:
For peace an' contentment ne'er bides in their ha', An' comfort ne'er keeks ben their hallan' ava'.
Abd. 1888 D. Grant Keckleton 41:
Wi' that Matthew got up an' stept out to the hallan to put on his big coat.
Fif. 1899 S. Tytler Miss Nanse xiii.:
Finding that the lady had not time to pay a call, Jenny stood with her in the dark hallan.

3. An outer wall before a door to stop wind (Abd. 1956).

4. A cottage, house, dwelling.Abd. 1826 D. Anderson Poems 9:
Ilk uppish upstart in it's sure to hae Them at their hallans to dinner and tea.
Ags. 1846 P. Livingston Poems (1855) 120:
Soon we left them — reached the halan' I a week before had ta'en.
Peb. 1865 R. Sanderson Poems 8:
While snugly here we're seated In this hallan o' our ain.
Lnk. 1883 A. R. Fisher Poems 39:
How matters will end i' the palace or hallan, It's perfectly 'yont human ken to conceive.
Abd. 1895 W. Allan Sprays II. 104:
Gie sang tae the burnie that rins by the faulin', An' jouks by the hallans o' great an' o' sma'.
Slg. 1932 W. D. Cocker Poems 51:
Sleep soond, auld chiel, your kind ha'e gane frae ha an' hallan.

5. A buttress placed against a weak wall to prevent it from falling (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 251).

6. A hen-roost, formerly formed by crossbars placed along the gable of a house joined by a lattice-work of straw, “nowadays . . . used more loosely of any beam on which hens roost” (Ork. 1929 Marw., Ork. 1956, hen-hallan).Ork. 1832 D. Vedder Sketches 191:
My colly 'neath the hallan cour'd.
Ork. c.1912 J. Omond 80 Years Ago 8:
We must step warily, as over the but door is the halan' or boards on which the hens sit.
Ork. 1922 J. Firth Reminisc. 8:
Aloft along the gable ran two horizontal bars of wood, eighteen inches apart, laced or “wupped” with straw simmons. This was the hallan or hens' roost.

7. Combs. and attrib. uses: (1) hallan door, a door into or through the hallan; (2) hallan-end, the angle formed by the wall of the house and the hallan; (3) hallanshaker, one who shakes the hallan, i.e. stands at the door as a mendicant or menial; specif. a beggar (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.), a sorry creature. Now only liter. Also used attrib. (Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch (1898) xxvii, halin-). Hence hallanshaker-like, -looking, like a tramp, ragged, unkempt; (4) hallon-side, the side of a hallan; (5) hallan stane, (a) threshold, doorstep; (b) a stone placed between cattle stalls in a byre to form a dividing wall (Cai.4 c.1920, Cai. 1956); (6) hallan stap, = (5) (a); (7) hallan-wa', a partition; (8) hallan-winnock, a small window or spyhole cut in the hallan to allow anyone approaching to be observed.(1) Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin iv.:
Plantin' hersel' atweesh Mrs Williamson an' the hallan' door.
Kcb. 1890 A. J. Armstrong Musings 78:
Steek to the hallan door.
n.Sc. 1916 M. Maclean Songs 46:
But late in the hairst when the grain's in store A stranger cam' tae the hallan door.
(2) Lnk. c.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 28:
She lay in the little lang sadle at the hallen end.
Ags. 1877 Arbroath Guide (3 Feb.) 4:
Tho' I should guard you thro' the glen, Or guide you to your hallan-en'.
Gall. 1935 Sc. Country (Scott-Moncrieff) 38:
A farm-servant would cut and stack peats at the hallan-end to feed his fire in winter.
(3) Sc. c.1680 Maggy Lauder in D. Herd Songs (1776) II. 72:
Right scornfully she answer'd him, Begone, you hallanshaker.
Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 133:
Tho I were Laird of Tenscore Acres, Nodding to Jouks of Hallenshakers.
Abd. 1755 R. Forbes Jnl. from London [30]:
Staakin about like a hallen-shaker.
Slk. 1818 Hogg Wool-gatherer (1874) 78:
Your wife! Weel I wat ye'll never get the like o' her, great muckle hallanshaker-like guff.
Sc. 1822 Scott Pirate v.:
A very hallanshaker loon, as ever crossed my twa een!
Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch (1839) xiv.:
He was a wauf hallanshaker-looking chield — . . . one that seemed by his phisog to hold the good word of the world as nothing, and that had, in the course of circumstances, been reduced to a kind of wild desperation.
Sc. 1849 Carlyle New Letters (1904) II. 79:
The place . . . is overflowed with “Gillies”. so-called; a rawboned set of hallenshakers.
Ags. 1891 Barrie Little Minister I. xiii.:
Only a puir gypsy, your honour . . . only a wandering hallen-shaker, and will I tell you your fortune?
Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 20:
A met a doiterin, duddy, auld hallanshaker as A laampeet doon that lang brae.
(4) Sc. 1725 Ramsay Gentle Shep. iii. ii.:
A Fundling that was laid Down at your Hallon-side, ae Morn in May.
(5) (a) Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 69:
The weary traveller through sweat an' sun, Oppress'd, gladly reclining on the hallan-stane, Sips, cautiously, his mug o' tippenny.
Sc. 1865 R. Buchanan Inverburn (1882) 7:
Give me such tiny truths as only bloom Like red-tipt gowans at the hallanstone.
(b) Cai. 1950 Scotsman (10 Feb.) 8:
The cows were secured to the hallanstanes at the walls.
(6) Per. 1857 J. Stewart Sketches 28:
Like a wild goat On the rock-ledges bounding, wee Jamie lap owre The laigh hallan stap.
(7) Bwk. 1823 A. Hewit Poems 72:
The cock frae hint the hallen wa' Did clap his wings an' craw.
Rnf. 1836 R. Allan Evening Hours 167:
Whan loud an' louder grows the blast That shakes the hallan wa'.
Ayr. 1896 J. Lamb Ann. Ayr. Parish 241:
A “hallanwa'” separating his dwelling from that of Baldy Malcolm.
(8) Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin vii.:
I gied a glower in at the hallan-winnock i' the bye-comin'.

[O.Sc. halland, -en, from 1553, a partition, halland-schekker, 1500, beggar; North. Mid.Eng. halland = 1., 1490; of uncertain orig., phs. a reduced form of *half-wand, see Wand, to wattle, and cf. Ger. and Du. wand, a wall.]

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"Hallan n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 14 Aug 2022 <>



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