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A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

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First published 2000 (DOST Vol. VIII).
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Schele, S(c)heil(l, n. Also: shiell, s(c)heal(l, scheel(e, sheel(l, schill, schell, shael; scheld, s(c)heild; (schel, chel(e, (s)chale, scele, scell). [North. ME shāle (1291), schēle (1338), of obscure origin; perhaps, OED conjectures, f. ONorthumb. *scéla, cognate with ON skáli hut, shed (found in the north. Eng. place-name element -scales). Cf. med. L. (Cumberland) shela a miner's hut (1356).Also in the mod. Sc. dial. = ‘a hut … freq. of a shelter used by salmon-fishermen; … a sheepcot … specif. one used in the summer when sheep and cattle were removed to higher and more distant pastures' (SND, s.v. Shiel n. 2).]

1. A rude hut, usually made from wood or such materials as are immediately available; a temporary building, freq. one erected for a special purpose, as e.g. seasonal accommodation or storage; a bothy; a shed; an outhouse.In some instances, also in 4 and 5 below, appar. denoting the pasturage as much as the building or buildings, and so passing into 3 below.(1) 14.. Liber Calchou 447.
A schele sowth fra the vedryng medowe apon the bourn bra the qwylk is a restyng plas to the abbotis wannis qwen [etc.]
a1500 Henr. Fab. 199 (A).
It was a semple wane Off fog and farne … Ane sely scheld wnder ane erdfast stane Of quhilk the entre was nocht hie nor braid
1478 Acta Aud. 68/1.
That Walter Steuart of Cluny has done wrang in the castin dovne of the schelis of the landis of Tulymwly. … [He] sall mak the said schelis vp again onne his expens
1491 Grant Chart. 364.
[With common pasturage within the commonty of the lordship and the] schelis [of old custom pertaining to … Clewthre]
1533 Boece 117b.
Now approchit wynter and the victorius army was sufferit depart to thare schelis
1539 Aberd. B. Rec. I 159.
It suld be lesum to all and syndre the tovnis taxmen of thair vatteris of Cruvis, to byg scheill or schelis, sa mony as thai thocht expedient
1577 Douglas Corr. 227.
As tueching the vnlawfull pasturing of Englishe guidis in Scottis grund … quhair the guidis ar stafherded be Englishmen, or schelis biggit be thame within Scotland, I will gif order to caus [them] to be maid prisoneris
1577 Reg. Privy C. II 621.
That thay on na wayis suffer the saidis rebellis and thevis … to … big schelis within the severall ground of Scotland
(b) 1536 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 168.
Jhone Vatsone hes bigit ane scheill one our common
1557 Peebles B. Rec. I 239.
Cumand to our … heretage of Caidmuir … and takkand to erd our scheillis and houssis
1562 (1585) Reg. Great S. 257/1.
To big scheillis and lawis on the hauchis of the saidis landis … for resaweing of the fisch
1592 Breadalbane Ct. Bk. 27.
Cutting of tymmer to ane scheill
1594 Ib. 51.
The wrangis cutting of and casting doun of sevin scheillis vpone his gressene
1596 Reg. Privy C. V 302.
[Coline Campbell of Glenlyoun] yeirlie in the summer season cumis … to the said forrest, biggis sheillis … and remanis the maist parte of the summer seasoun at the said forrest
1602 Ib. VI 359.
[The provost and bailies … caused build] scheillis … to thair seik personis infectit with the pest
1614 Keeping of Deer Forests in Argyll Mun. (Misc. 17th c.) 2 July.
Thair is mony scheillis nixt adjacent to the mwir of Beinmoir … the wseing of the quhilkis is the occasione that the deir and rae in Beinmoir is skarrit
1621 Breadalbane Doc. No. 445.
Threttie schilling land of auld extent with housis biggingis ȝeardis scheillis toftis croftis
1621 Peebles B. Rec. I 361.
The thesawrer to big ane scheill vpone Hammiltoun to the hird
1622-6 Bisset II 394/28.
Quhair in tyme of pest the inhabitantis … ar placed to big thair ludges and scheillis
1633 Acts V 86/2 (see Inch n.2 1 (2)).
1637 Justiciary Cases II 346.
Within the quhilk scheill ye furnischt and interteanet the saidis rebellis with butter cheis milk and uther necessaris
1671 Lauder Notices Affairs I 19.
A sheild … wheirin he made his butter, cheise, and other milknes
1698 Misc. 3 Spald C. II 109.
Sacks lyeing in the corner of the sheill
1702 Lanark B. Rec. 268.
That the sheillis be removed from the loan and other places within the crofts
(c) 1594 Breadalbane Ct. Bk. 76b.
1620 Reg. Great S. 781/2.
Lie insches et shealis super dicta aqua et ex utroque eius latere
c1641–54 J. Gordon in Macfarlane's Geog. Coll. II 534.
Coriechuirk with firr wood and uthir timmer and 4 or 5 sheals
(d) 1513 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 20.
The dik befor the thorne and the lityll schell
(e) c1641–54 J. Gordon in Macfarlane's Geog. Coll. II 541.
(f) 1685 Wodrow Hist. IV (1830) 239.
A party … fell in with some of those who were upon their hiding, asleep in a shiell
(g) 16.. Ouchterlony in Macfarlane's Geog. Coll. II 36.
The summer they goe the far distant glens which border upon Brae Mar and ther live grassing their cattle in litle houses which they build upon ther coming and throwes doun when they come away called sheels
(h) 15.. Sym & Bruder 106.
He gatt ane sit vp in the schill [: will] And that the laddis allowis
(2) 1500 Acta Conc. II 432, 433.
The lands of the Scheild lying in Kile Regis, within the sheriffdom of Aire … the quhilkis landis of the Scheld
(3) 1531 Bell. Boece (M) I 122.
The nixt summyr Vespasiane rasit his army fra the wynter schelis to cum on the Scottis and Pichtis
Ib. (1821) I 140.
He returnit in Brigance, levand his army in the winter schelis [M. scheelis]
Id. Livy I 282/8.
Quintius … commandit Racilia his wiffe to bring his govne fra the somer schele, quhare he duelt
Ib. II 142/16.
Thai began to mak … wynter schelis to defend thame fra wynter stormys
1576 Breadalbane Ct. Bk. 19.
That na tennent or cottar lat doun thair somer scheillis vnder the pane of xl s.
1593 Reg. Privy C. V 589.
Be … pasturing of thair bestiall … [and] bigging of symmer sheillis thairupoun
1606 Crim. Trials II 519.
In his somer-scheill besyde the fellis … feinȝeing thame selffis to be in seiking of ane kow that was tynt amangis the scheillis

2. A small house; a cottage; a hovel. 1584 in Calderwood IV 698.
I altogether disremembered the poore sheild or cottage wherin I was borne
1616 Aberd. B. Rec. II 339.
Betuixt the samen and the gavell wall of the tolbuyth, the said Thomas sall big thrie schelles of voult of sic hicht as salbe thocht most expedient, and sall inclose tua of the saidis voultis with wallis
Ib. 340.
And the third voult to be bot ane schell athort the haill hous for the jaylouris duelling or to mack the samen in tua schellis
a1650 Row 433.
What to doe have the ministring spirits of the Lord with things done in such a contemptible and stinking sheell?
1652 Stirling B. Rec. I 205.
The poore widowis and orphantis who hes no sheilds to creipe in

3. A piece of pasturage on which a ‘shiel’ or shepherd's hut has been constructed; a summer pasturage.Also out-scheill.See the note to 1 above. 1528 Carnwath Baron Ct. (SHS) 74.
Jame Vilson foloit the men of the estscheill & vestschell for iijj bollis of corne
1608 Reg. Great S. 750/1.
Cum silvis pasturagiis lie outscheillis et scheillingis de Glenaslay
Ib. 750/2.
Cum molendino, terris molendinariis pertinentiis et lie outscheillis
c1615 Breve Cron. Earlis Ross 22.
The haill lands above written will occupie twenty-four ploughs, besides shealls and grassings
1641–54 J. Gordon in Macfarlane's Geog. Coll. II 563.
Coryes and sheels in Glen-lyon
Ib. 564.
The sheel therof is called Bat cherk
1699 Misc. 3 Spald. C. II 109.
He had occasion to be at Loin at ane scheill in the forest of Glenavine. … he saw in their custodie in a litle back house of the sheill some sacks
Ib. 110.
He did see the haill men … in ane sheill of Glenavine called the Loyn

4. As the second element of a place-name.Freq. pl.

a. In early place-names. a1159 Liber Calchou 53.
Terram que vocatur Bothkillscheles
c1190 Ib. 54.
Bothkilles sceles
c1200 Liber Melros 44.
Aldredo de Windicheles
1202–8 Reg. Episc. Glasg. I 85.
Terram in territorio de Lillisclif que vocatur Schotteschales … burna de Schotteschales
a1214 Reg. St. A. 380.
De Mayschelis in Lambyrmur
c1220 Liber Dryburgh 123.
In villa de Samsonchelis
1223 Liber Melros 189.
In territorio de Pannesscell
Ib. 190.
1296 Ragman's Roll Linlithgowsh.
Wm. de Scheles
1329 Exch. R. I 169.
Pro multura de Estchel
1374 Reg. Great S. 171/2.
Totam terram de Borthwykschelys
13.. Liber Melros 331.
Terram de moresschele
1416 Liber Melros 540.
Gywin vndir oure sealle at Gallowschel
1442 Exch. R. V 118.
Versus Galoway Scheelis, in foresta de Ettrike
1456 Ib. VI 224.

b. In later place-names. 1503 Rymer in Orig. Par. I 278.
1525 E. Loth. Antiq. Soc. V 29.
Ane schele callit Hyrdman schele alias le Lawar schele [Cawarschele Yester Wr. 130]
1528 Carnwath Baron Ct. (SHS) 101.
Estscheill Vestscheill & all the laif of the tenandries
1543–4 Reg. Privy S. III 94/2.
Ferry bait de Baitschele
1548 Lanark Sheriff Ct. MS 3b.
The saidis landis of Bothewell Schellis
1555 Coll. Aberd. & B. 383.
Whilkis merche cairne is callit Cairne Sheilis
?1569 Berw. Nat. C. XXIV 426.
Then northeist outwith the dyke of the scheillis to the Eister Scheill duris callit Cokburnispeth Scheillis
1578 Prot. Bk. J. Robesone MS 16b.
James Stevinsoun in Hyrdmanscheles
1579 Edinb. Test. VII 143b.
I leue the steding in Scheillis to Isobell Patersoun my wyf
1593 Maxwell Mem. I 322.
Johnne Crux in Crokket scheill
1593 Acts IV 36/2.
The landis of … Penscheillis … and Winter scheillis
1652 Retours I Inq. Spec. Kincardine (85).
With the pendicles called Sheillis of Meikle Achlie and Brunthillock
1687 Ib. Edinburgh (1307).
Cum illo prædio lie the Sheills

5. Defined by a place-name.See the note to 1 above.(1) 1542–3 Reg. Privy S. III 17/2.
The Schelis of Kilbride
1546 Misc. Spald. C. IV 215.
The scheill and gers of Incherory
1548 Dumfr. & Galloway Soc. XXXIX 53.
The scheild of Lochmabengait
1554 Prot. Bk. R. Lumsdane MS 23.
The cornis standand stakit … in the mur besyd the scheill of Ardifork
1575–6 Reg. Privy S. VII 64/1.
The scheill of Drumboir
1638 Bamff Chart. 253.
[Trees grow] doun to the scheall of Drumbui
1643 Black Bk. Taymouth 98.
The scheillis of Conench
1675 Argyll Justic. Rec. I 45.
The sheills of Kernich in Glenkinglas
(2) c1567 Liber Calchou 531.
Johne Ker for the Bankheid scheill vj bollis of strakit meill
1627 Rep. Parishes 45.
Sowme rowmes … ar distant fra the kirk a myle. … The … Dalhoussie scheillis thrie quarteris of a myle

6. attrib. and comb.Scheilhous = 1 above. Scheiltoun, ? also sheill park, = 3 above. — 1315–21 Reg. Great S. 7/1.
Orientalem partem terre de Fulhophalche et del Schelgrene
1471 Acta Aud. 19/1.
The wrangwis … away having of certane houses of the schelehede pertening to hir be resoun of tak
1574 Breadalbane Ct. Bk. 13b.
Fund in the wrang for non making of ane scheilhous befor thair fauldis
1623 Reg. Great S. 151/1.
Lie scheildhous
1675 Argyll Justic. Rec. I 54.
In a sheill houss in Glenstrae
1671 M. P. Brown Suppl. Decis. II 527.
Alexander behoved to count to them for the Crawlock meadow and the Sheill park
1606 Reg. Great S. 627/1.
Cum … pratis, pasturagiis, lie scheiltounes, moris [etc.]

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"Schele n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 25 Mar 2023 <>



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