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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

MARCH, n.1, v. Also mairch (Sc. 1880 Jam.); merch. [mertʃ]

I. n. 1. As in Eng., a boundary or border of a country or territory, specif. the Border between Scotland and England (in Eng. hist. usage, gen. in pl., The Marches).Sc. 1824 Scott Redgauntlet vii.:
He has pouched my fee, and drucken a mutchkin of brandy, and now he's ower the march.

Combs. and Phrs.: (1)march-day, the sitting of a court of commissioners to deal with infringements of the Border laws and regulations, a.1603. Hist.; (2) marchman, a Border warrior; (3) march treason, an offence against the law of the Borderland between Scotland and England, such as the breaking of a truce. Hist.; (4) owre the march, over the Border into England or Scotland; freq. applied to an elopement, e.g. tae gang owre the march, to elope (s.Sc. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XI. 112; Rxb. 1927 E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 11, Rxb. 1962), an o'er-the-march marriage, an irregular marriage, an elopement of a couple from England to be married according to the speedier and less formal procedure of Scots Law.  (1) Sc. 1900 A. Laing Hist. Scot. I. x. 293:
In ruling the Borders, making raids and holding March-days.
(2) Sc. 1802 Scott Minstrelsy I. 129:
He has calld him forty Marchmen bauld, I trow they were of his ain name.
Sc. 1896 A. Lang Monk of Fife 314:
He is none of your marchmen, or Highlanders, but has lands in Ayrshire.
(3) Sc. 1805 Scott Last Minstrel iv. xxiv.:
We claim from thee William of Deloraine, That he may suffer march-treason pain.
(4) Rxb. 1702 Trans. Hawick Archaeol. Soc. (1909) 34:
They went over the march and were married . . . produced a Testimonial from an unknown hand in England.
Rxb. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 IX. 84 note:
Irregular or (as they are commonly called here) o'er-the-march marriages.
Dmf. 1820 J. Johnstone Poems 128:
Ye were younger than me I could swear, When ye ran o'er the march wi' my father.

2. The boundary-line of a property or farm or of lands belonging to a community (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis; Cld. 1880 Jam.; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Cai. 1903 E.D.D.). Gen.Sc.; a landmark (Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. Gl.); the limit of working of a mine or quarry (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 44). Also fig.Bnff. 1720 W. Cramond Annals Bnff. (S.C.) I. 192:
The Head Court orders “that the land marches and privileges of the Burgh be furthwith and immediat visited and perambulat.”
Lth. 1735 D. Robertson S. Leith Rec. (1925) 55:
Setting of the Marches betwixt the Links belonging to the Town of Edinburgh and the lands belonging to the Hospital.
Slk. 1818 Hogg B. of Bodsbeck vii.:
In a linn . . . in the march between twa lairds' lands.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 365:
Nor halts where marches do divide The day and night.
Abd. 1872 J. Michie Deeside Tales 120:
Gordon poinded some stirks belongin' to Forbes that had gone across the march.
Ayr. 1889 H. Johnston Glenbuckie 48:
I had just passed along the head rigg of the clover-field at the Mains march.
Sc. 1946 A. D. Gibb Legal Terms 54:
March. Boundary; although common to both Scots and English this word is used with special frequency by Scots lawyers.

Combs. and phrs.: (1) march baulk, a strip of land dividing one property from another (Bnff., Fif. 1962). See Bauk, n.2; (2) march cairn, a cairn marking a boundary; (3) march-ditch, a boundary ditch (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 111; Sc. 1880 Jam.; Cai. 1903 E.D.D.). Gen.Sc.; (4) march dyke, a boundary wall (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Cai. 1903 E.D.D.). Gen.Sc.; (5) march fence, a boundary fence. Gen.Sc.; (6) march-line, a boundary line; (7) march place, in mining: the passage or room near the limit of working (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 44); (8) mairch roadie, a path between properties (ne.Sc. 1962); (9) march stane, a stone set up to mark the limits of a property, a boundary stone; a landmark (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Cai. 1903 E.D.D.). Gen.Sc.; (10) mairch stank, = (3) (Sh., Wgt. 1962); (11) march-way, a boundary road; (12) the going of the marches, = (15) (Slg. 1702 Trans. Slg. Nat. Hist. Soc. (1925) 52); (13) to redd one's ain marches, to put one's affairs in order. See Redd, and cf. (14) and (15); (14) to rid (the) marches (with substitution of Eng. rid for redd above), to define exact boundaries. Fig. in quots.; (15) to ride the marches, to perform the traditional ceremony of riding round the boundaries of common land to inspect landmarks, boundary stones, etc. (e. and s.Sc. 1962); the riding of the marches, the ceremony itself; also fig. = (14). Orig. a variant of (13). See Redd, Ride.(1) em.Sc. 1913 J. Black Gloamin' Glints 119:
Ye were a gran' herd at first, stappin' back an' forrit on the mairch baulk, an' no' lettin' a coo touch a stalk o' Jims Lammie's corn.
(2) Uls. 1843 W. Carleton Peasantry I. 118:
This river . . . was the march ditch or merin between our farms.
(3)Fif. 1983 Hamish Brown Time Gentlemen 86:
Could an ancestor reach a hand
To take mine, by the old march cairn, ...
(4) em.Sc. 1794 W. Marshall Agric. Cent. Highl. 16:
The lands of different proprietors are frequently, but not always, divided by “march dykes”; namely, stone walls.
Sc. 1816 Scott B. Dwarf iv.:
I wonder what he wad take by the rood to build a march dyke.
Wgt. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 IV. 77:
March-dikes, and fences dividing the meadow and arable land from the moor pasture.
Lth. 1897 P. H. Hunter J. Armiger 29:
Then it's understood aboot . . . raisin' that march-dyke anither foot?
Dmf. 2000:
Our farm merched wi Searigg tae the east, Robbiewhat tae the sooth an Howthat tae the west. Tae the north it merched wi the A75. There were nae gates in the merch dykes.
(5) Sc. 1811 Scots Mag. (Oct.) 793:
Craving that Mr Stevenson might be ordained to pay the expence of herding, thus incurred by his delaying to build his portions of the march fence.
Sc. 1838 W. Bell Dict. Law Scot. 625:
A tenant . . . is bound . . . to maintain march-fences erected by the landlord during the lease.
Ayr. 1889 H. Johnston Glenbuckie 7:
The cracks of neighbours over march fences.
(6) Abd. 1886 G. Macdonald What's Mine's Mine III. ix.:
He did not everywhere know where the march-line fell.
(8) Abd. 1923 R. L. Cassie Heid or Hert x.:
A hinna been my leen wi' Mary sin' the Sunday's nicht at the mairch roadie.
(9) Sc. 1722 The Sober Verity 31:
Like as a Hercules Pillar, or as we Landward Men use to Speak, like a March-Stone.
Abd. 1803 Hatton Estate MSS.:
The Quarry Ground . . . was measured off . . . and March Stones set up.
Lnk. 1816 G. Muir Cld. Minstrelsy 13:
Whose oaths are taken that the pits or march stones are standing in the same situation they left them last year.
Rxb. 1845 T. Aird Old Bachelor 97:
And now, my lads, . . . you'll no forget the setting o' the march-stanes!
Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 377:
I hae aften wonnert the lairds didna set up mairch-stanes here, or ae muckle mairch-stane wi' a sooperscription on't.
Sh. 1899 Shetland News (29 April):
I sat me doon upon a mairch stane.
(10) Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xxxvi.:
Mains's orra man's reddin' oot the mairch stank.
(11) e.Lth. 1892 J. Lumsden Sheep-Head 5:
Ahead! scan out the march-way.
(12) Slg. 1702 Trans. Slg. Nat. Hist. Soc. (1925) 52:
At the going of the marches . . . £3. 2. 0.
(13) Dmb. 1868 J. Salmon Gowodean 69:
Craw hameward, Rab, get your ain marches redd.
(14) Sc. 1721 R. Wodrow Corresp. (1843) II. 562:
To rid marches in the powers of the different officers of Christ's institution.
Sc. 1755 R. Shirra Remains (1850) 131:
It is very necessary we rid marches between these two and observe what the law is, and faith.
Sc. 1847 in W. Hanna Mem. T. Chalmers (1852) IV. 515:
He rids the marches between the election of God on the one hand, and the freeness of the Gospel on the other.
(15) Rxb. 1706 J. Wilson Annals Hawick (1850) 118:
Deriding, mocking, and scoffing, and abusing the said bailies the foresaid day at the riding of the common marches.
Sc. 1717 D. Defoe Memoirs Ch. of Scot. ii. 137:
The King [James VI] answered in few Words, “That there could be no Agreement between him and them till the Marches of their Jurisdiction were ridden”. This is a Scoticism in Speech, alluding to the People, who used to ride annually over the Marches or Borders of both Kingdoms of England and Scotland, to settle and ascertain the Bounds.
Ags. 1729 Arbroath T.C. Rec. MS. (14 July):
They have eared out the same furder then use and wont whereby the Inhabitants have not sufficient roome Left to them to ryde the Touns merches when occasion shall offer.
Dmf. 1759 Dmf. & Gall. N. & Q. (1913) 224:
To spent on the day the Marches was rode . . . 2s 6d.
Per. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XX. 441:
It is customary to ride the marches, occasionally, so as to preserve in the memory of the people the limits of their property.
Rxb. 1886 J. Edgar Hawick Common-Riding 36:
After the enclosure of the burgh lands the warlike nature of the proceedings slowly disappeared, and the practice of riding the marches armed was discontinued about the close of last century, the two glittering halberds carried by the burgh officers being now the only remnant of the once imposing military display.
Dmf. 1912 J. & R. Hyslop Langholm 544:
Amongst those riding the marches, there sprang up, not unnaturally, a spirit of competition as to the mettle of their mounts. and the races which resulted were at first confined to the animals which had gone round the boundaries.
Rxb. 1937 M. M. Banks Cal. Customs I. 99:
The practice of Riding the Marches is still observed in this parish (Hawick). This ancient ceremonial takes place on the last Friday of May (old style), and is considered one of the most important days of the year. The honour of carrying the Standard of the town devolves upon the Cornet, a young man previously elected for the purpose; and he and the Magistrates of the town on horseback, and a large body of the inhabitants and the Burgesses, set out in procession for the purpose of riding round the property of the town, and making formal demonstration of their legal rights.

II. v. 1. To determine the boundaries of a property by defining limits and placing markers, fences, etc. where necessary (Lth. 1962). Vbl.n. marching, the determining of boundaries.Sc. 1704 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1908) 383:
They were sold, meithed and marched to the said Walter be umquhill Sir Archibald Stewart of Castlemilk, with the tower and houses thereupon and saltpans and fishings and others.
Fif. 1729 A. Laing Lindores Abbey (1876) 292:
The said midden-steads to be marched at the sight of honest men of the bailies apoynting.
Bte. 1758 Rothesay T.C. Rec. (1935) II. 823:
Haveing veued the said piece of ground and marched the same they found it to be thirty one feet in length and fourteen feet in breadth.
Sc. 1781 Caled. Mercury (7 July):
The lots are distinctly marched and measured; and the marches will be pointed out by the tenant of Muirhousedykes.

2. intr. To border on, to have a common boundary with. Gen.(exc. I.)Sc.Ags. 1729 Arbroath T.C. Rec. MS. (14 July):
The Magistrats and Councell appoint a visitation of the Lands within the Touns Liberties belonging to David Hucheon and others marching with the Lands of Kelly.
Sc. 1819 Scott Bride of Lamm. xvii.:
I know the estates well; they march with my own — a noble property.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Provost xl.:
A piece of ground that marched with the spot whereon it was intended to construct the new building.
Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.:
This is where my land marches with his.
Per. 1895 I. Maclaren Auld Lang Syne 122:
Though oor fields mairch and we've aye been neeburly.
Dmf. 1917 J. L. Waugh Cute McCheyne 35:
He micht weel be content, but he has cuist an envious eye on the land o' Croftmains that mairches wi' him.
Abd. 1928 P. Grey Making of a King 26:
Weel, your place an' mine merch thegither.
Uls. 1987 Sam Hanna Bell Across the Narrow Sea 116:
'Whose farm marches with that piece of land?' asked Sorley jerking his thumb backwards.
Dmf. 2000:
Our farm merched wi Searigg tae the east, Robbiewhat tae the sooth an Howthat tae the west. Tae the north it merched wi the A75. There were nae gates in the merch dykes.

3. tr. To form the boundary of, to mark the limits of (Abd. 1962). Ppl.adj. mairchin, boundary.m.Lth. 1760 Caled. Mercury (17 Nov.):
Sheriff-hall burn marches the whole to the south.
Lnk. 1883 W. Thomson Leddy May 23:
The same hedge marched the twa estates.
Abd. 1916 G. Abel Wylins 127:
The auler loon was cuttin' sprots Oot by the mairchin' burn.

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"March n.1, v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jun 2024 <>



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