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

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First published 1971 (DOST Vol. IV).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

March-, Merch(e)-stane, n. Also: march(t)e-, martch(e)-;mertch(e)-;mairch(e)-, mairsche-, merchesand -stain(e, -stayne, -stean(e, -ston(e. [March n.2 3 d. Common in the mod. Sc. and north. Eng. dial.]

A stone set up to mark the boundary of a property or of a community's lands; a boundary stone.(a) 1528 Cal. Charters Suppl.
At thair be halff ane ell off breyd on euerylk syd off the marche stanys to be free wnlawboryt for euer
The marchte stanys to be set betuix the forsaydis landis
1556 Peebles B. Rec. I. 230. 1557–8 E. Loth. Antiq. Soc. VII. 54.
For wyning of stanis … and setting of the samyn with coill and calk to be marche stanis
1574 Glasgow B. Rec. I. 14. 1583–4 Kirkcaldy B. Rec. 82. 1595 Orkney Rentals ii. 28.
4 merks terræ … fallen in escheat … for witchcraft and raising of ane march-stane
1595 Aberd. B. Rec. II. 110. 1605 Glasgow Merchants House 92.
Quhatsumevir personne … dois wrang to his nichtbour in biging, planting, teilling or lowsing of martch stainis
1608 Dunferm. B. Rec. II. 46. 1611 Reg. Panmure I. xci. 1615 Aberd. B. Rec. II. 322. 1640 Proceedings of the Commissioners from the Parliament of Scotland 80.
Neither is there any other difference of the one from the other, but … such as is of a march-stone hid in the ground and uncovered
1646 Kelso Baillie Ct. 84.
Provyding the northe west cunȝie stane … goe no farder northe nor the top of ane great blew whin stane alreddie sett for ane marche stane
1662 Sel. Biog. I. 204. 1667 Old-lore Misc. IX. iii. 141.
Which by the consent of all present was found to be a march stone and accordingly was renewed by laying a heap of stones upon it
1678 Kirkcaldy B. Rec. 20 May.
And to all burgesses that hes not presentit thair march staines
1679 Fountainhall Decis. I. 66. 1680 Stirling Common Good MS. (Reg. H.) 142.
For calling of 16 march stones to sett. Item to six spademen for to sett tham
(b) 1536 Laing Chart. 108.
To the merch steane with ane croce on the heid theiron
1555 Coll. Aberd. & B. 383.
Euill auisit personis … hes remouit the principall merche stanis out of the auld and naturall laires
1556 Peebles B. Rec. I. 230. 1568 Grant Chart. 387. 1580 (1587) Reg. Great S. 390/1. 1589 Glasgow B. Rec. I. 137. 1595 Reg. Great S. 109/2.
Ane mekill blew mertche stane quhilk devydis [etc.]
1615 Aberd. B. Rec. II. 326.
Thair wes fund twa merches staines, merkit with Sanct Peiteris key
Ib. 322. 1625 Elgin Rec. II. 188. 1628 Peebles B. Rec. I. 368. 1632 Lanark B. Rec. 324. 1638 Protestation of Subscribers of Confession of Faith and Covenant.
What is the use of merch-stones upon borders of lands, the like use hath confessions of faith in the Kirke
1650 Strathbogie Presb. 137. 1669 Justiciary Ct. Rec. I. 328. 1673 Stirling B. Rec. II. 13.
A mertch stone of thrie foot long and one foot square, of broatched worke
1675 Melrose Reg. Rec. II. 409.
[Robert Buinȝie, mason] to putt and lavell the yaird … as it was beffor the altering off the merch stones
(c) 1519 Rec. Earld. Orkney 92.
At the auld mairchstaine of Saba
1599 Reg. Great S. 306/2.
Kiepand the mairche-stanes … quhill it cum [etc.]
1606 Melrose Reg. Rec. I. 7. 1657 Glasgow B. Rec. II. 374.
To build ane thine dyk … according as the saids mairsche stanes ar sett

b. transf. and fig.(1) c1600 Pont Cuningham 4.
It marches with Clydisdaill, being devydit from the same by a naturall march stone, viz. a steipe … montaine
1688 Sinclair Doctrine Sphere 27.
The antient geographers … fixed their first march-stone there [in the Canary Islands], whence they begin to reckon [the meridian]
(2) 1637 Rutherford Lett. (1891) 538.
Our Lord Jesus, whose ancient march-stones and landbounds our … prelates have … removed
1654-6 Gray Gospel-Call 23.
The march-stone betwixt thee and an hypocrite
?1665 M. Bruce Six Dreadful Alarms 21. Id. Rattling Dry Bones 25. 1699 Forrester Bishops Claim iii. 6.

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"Merch-stane n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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