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

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First published 2002 (DOST Vol. XI).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Wal(l, Wa(w, n. Also: walle, val(l, ual, wale, vale, wail(l, vaill, wav, va(w, vay, wae, walch, wauch, woll. Pl. also waas, walze. [ME and e.m.E. walle (c1200), wal (a1225), wall (Cursor M.), wale (c1535), waule (1565), OE wall, MLG, MDu. wal.]See also Bak-wall n., Barmkin n. c, Castel(l n. 3, Foreside n. (a), Forewall n., Kirk n. 9 a (1), Mantil(l n.1 2 b, Mote n.2 3, Mudewal(l n., Parpall n. a, Parpan n. 2 a, and Wer(e)wall n. for further examples.

1. The defensive wall(s constructed around or forming part of a castle, town, etc.; the ramparts (of a city, etc.). Also with qualifier. b. transf. The ramparts along with the area enclosed by them, a citadel.(1) sing. 1375 Barb. ix 336.
He … till it [sc. Perth] a sege has set Bot … It mycht nocht but gret payne be tane For all the wall [C. wallis] wes then of stane
1375 Barb. x 491 (C).
Douglas the castell sesit … At than wes closit vith stalward vall
1375 Barb. x 617.
Aboune thaim wp apon the wall The chak-wachys assemblyt
a1400 Leg. S. xxxiii 66.
He entre mycht nocht, For gret strinth & hicht of wal
a1500 K. Hart 416.
Dame Chastite … flaw out our the wall
1508 Treas. Acc. IV 117.
The king disjunit in Johne Stewartis hous under the wall
1535 Stewart 56627.
Tha within so manfullie did defend, Tha leit thame nocht enter attouir the wall
a1595 Descr. Isles 437.
Ane castell … quhilk is ane great strenth … the sea … defendis the half thairof and hes three walls about the rest of the castell and thairof biggit with lyme and stane … Ane uther wall … within the quhilk schippis and boittis are drawn and salvit. And the third and the uttermost wall of tymber and earth within the quhilk the haill gudes of the cuntrie are keipit in tyme of troublis
(b) 1484 R. Brown Paisley I 53.
The abbot … About this abbay gart make this waw [Scots Lore I 88, wav]
1535 Stewart 9404.
Tha brint the toun, and syne caist doun the waw
1560 Rolland Seven S. 1999.
My sell this mater saw, In Edinburgh toun west vnderneth the waw
a1570-86 Maitland in Maitl. F. 30/15.
Off the wynning of Calice … Think that it wes his hand that brak the waw
pl. 1375 Barb. vi 447.
Thai sparyt the ȝattis hastily & … to the wallis [C. vallis] rane
c1400 Troy-bk. ii 2873.
He … gart cheis ane ganand sted … And gart close it with wallis hie
?1438 Alex. ii 186.
Effesoun is ane fair cite … With castels, touris and mony walles
c1420 Wynt. viii 3695.
All the wallys thai kest down thare … Swa thai lefft thare na fortres
a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 43.
Ane ciete … Bigly batollit about with wallis
c1475 Wall. vii 968.
That toune thai may nocht kep; The wallis ar laych, suppos the dyk be depe
a1508 Kennedy Flyt. 288.
Out of Dumbar that theif he maid exyle … Tigiris, serpentis and taidis will remane In Dumbar wallis … Thay stanis of tressone [etc.]
1513 Doug. ii xi 47.
Throw out the wallis the rerd of fyris grew
1513 Treas. Acc. IV 527.
For undirmynding of wallis, at the kingis command, viij quareouris
1596 Dalr. I 8/10.
Verie fewe fortified with walis and bulwarkis
1596 Dalr. II 310/8.
We meruel, that quhen the Frenchmen haue castne doune the walis, and round about haue brokne doune thair fortis, with force thay brache not the toune
1596 Dalr. II 321/15.
Climming the walis, the castel of Hume thay wan agane
(2) sing. 1375 Barb. x 523.
To wyn the wall off the castell Throw sumkyn slycht
1460 Hay Alex. 4195.
1472 Edinb. Chart. 135.
Housis biggit apon our wal
1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 251.
Thaj schote at the south waill and blok hous of Edinburgh
a1578 Pitsc. II 318/7.
Ane ludge biggit at the east port vpone the vall thairof
pl. ?1438 Alex. i 3.
Lay to assege the toun of Tire, And neir the wallis of that citie [etc.]
1513 Doug. i vi 105.
Ȝone place … Quhar now rysis ȝone large wallis stowt Of New Cartage
1547 (c1580) Edinb. B. Rec. II 130.
That the thesaurer pas and vesy the faltis of ports and wallis of the towne
1560 Rolland Seven S. 5226.
Thair is gold … Within the wallis hid of the same cietie
1567 G. Ball. 129.
Jerusalem did get ane fall, Hir wallis war maid full law
1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 59.
To pas to the wallis of Leith, thair to assy gif thair ladderis wer … lang aneuch
1573-1600 King Cat. in Cath. Tr. 183.
The vallis of Hierico fell downe miraculuslie
1634 Maxwell Mem. 252.
The wallis of the neddir baillie
(b) a1508 Kennedy Flyt. 268.
This Corspatrick betrasit Berwik toun And slew sevin thowsand Scottismen within thay wawis
(3) 1531 Bell. Boece II 324.
The sege continewit lang time at this toun … howbeit the uter wallis wer brokin in sindry partis, be force of rammis
1640 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. II 612 (see Mote n.2 3).
1667 Kirkcudbr. Sheriff Ct. Deeds I 143 (see Mote n.2 3).
b. 1513 Doug. ii v 79.
Pergama, the Troiane wallys

c. specif.The Roman wall(s); the Antonine wall or Hadrian's wall. c1515 Asl. MS I 189/23.
We … wore apon the Romanis and occupiit thaim sa that we gart thaim big twa wallis fra the est se to the west se to kepe ws fra the Brettanis
a1538 Abell 37b.
[The Romans] biggit ane wale betwix Abircorn & Kilpatrik
1596 Dalr. I 208/24.
This legat Gallio … commandet the wal of Abircorne to be erected agane of viii els thik, xii els hiche
1596 Dalr. I 170/16.
Laid a woundirful wall … of aucht thousand pase lang frome the mouth of the … Tyne vnto the … Eske
1596 Dalr. I 170/21.
Elie, and vthires … wryteris, maid al mentione of this vale or wall
a1651 Calderwood I 18.
Adrian … caused a great ditche to be cast from the … Tyne to the … Esk … and a wall to be made on the other side thereof of turffes and soddes … Severus … caused build a wall of turffe and soddes fastened together with pyles of wood with a deepe ditche on the backe and turrets upon the wall … The wall extended … from Forth to Clyde

2. A side or vertical division of a building, in its exterior or interior aspect.(1) c1400 Troy-bk. ii 201.
Kyng Ylyus … Statut in-to the honoure Of Pallas [a] tempile … And when the walles all was mayd [etc.]
a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 64.
Ane hie hall That wes astalit with pall Weill wroght wes the wall, And payntit with pride
1482 Peebles B. Rec. I 191 (see Rib n. 2 a).
a1500 Seven S. 80.
On the wallis all within Thai pantit all the science sevyn
1509 Reg. Privy S. I 296/1.
The said volt … fra the wall of the samyn of breid to the commoun gutter
1512 Prot. Bk. J. Foular II 150.
In the forsaid wal of his said land … lintale [etc.] … put for a loft dure
1519 Reg. Episc. Aberd. II 175.
The closait witht … ane corpalmery of aik set in the wall
1532 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 127.
To tak his awin vondok furtht of the vall and syne to mak the vall als gud agane
1541 Treas. Acc. VII 458.
To hing betuix the tapischerie and the wallis for saving thairof, vjxx elnis bertane cammes
1559 Edinb. Old Acc. I 299.
ic plancheour naillis to mak the wall in the Kirk of Feild ile
1632 Lithgow Trav. x 500.
Our monasteries … like to the ruines of Troy, … lumpes of wals, and heapes of stones
1657 Edinb. B. Rec. IX 56.
For jeisting the wholl lenth of the schooll … the jeists to ly within the walls
1668-9 Fraser Lawfulness Separ. 184.
These … who preached … and, I think, were heard, (for they did not preach to the walls)
1681 Edinb. B. Rec. XI 8.
Incaice the walls of the saids two tinnes courts be to laigh
(b) c1475 Wall. iv 235.
To the hous thai socht And entryt in … A loklate bar, was drawyn ourthourth the dur; Bot thai mycht nocht it brek out of the waw
1534 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 145.
That na man hyng ony stuff vithin our tolbutht vawis or uthouch
1537 Glasgow Prot. IV 116.
Jhon Law … fand … na uder thing within the said place bot baer wawis
a1570-86 Maitland in Maitl. F. 302/35.
Thai thevis that stelis and tursis hame … To mak bair wais thai think na schame
1636 Sc. Jrnl. Topogr. II 11/1.
For riding of the waas
(c) a1500 Peblis to Play 102.
Ay as the gudwyf brocht in Ane scorit vpon the wauch [: lauche, aucht]
(d) 15.. Lichtoun Dreme 9 (M).
The presoun wale
(e) 1564 Edinb. Old Acc. II 193.
For the beiging of the waillis [sc. of the new tolbuith]
(2) 1558 Crail B. Ct. 13 June.
In Vylȝem Benistoun hows ane parpen vay contenand xiiij buyrdis

b. ? A quantity of boards sufficient for the construction of a wall. 1511 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 13.
James Chepman [etc.] … apprysit thre kepill and ane wall of burd for the said annuall

3. A wall more generally, a boundary wall, or unassignable examples which may belong in 1 or 2 above. Also proverb. and in place names.Some examples may rather belong in Wel(l n. 1649 Macfarlane's Geog. Coll. III 148.
The place called Grahames Walls. Out of the ruines of this house was built the church
(1) ?1438 Alex. ii 4483.
Porrus lukit and saw ane waill [F. murail]
?1438 Alex. ii 4505, 4512.
At the auld wall [F. j viés murail de piere et de croion] before the toun All the commouns of Effezone Assailȝeit Porrus … Ane castell of his scheild he maid … And of the auld wall ane croun He maid ane fortrais
a1500 Henr. Abbay Walk 6.
I kest on syd myne e And saw this writtin vpoun a wall: ‘Off quhat estait, man [etc.]’
c1475 Wall. ix 509.
Tyll a wall thai haiff thar bakkis set, Sad strakys and sayr bauldly about thaim bet
1480 Liber Melros App. 694.
The Abbot and Convent of Melros should have … the land lying doun to the wall
1533 Gau 66/34.
Thay sal be stark … sua that na body or oder thing hws or castel val or dwr cane stop or hald thayme
1551 Hamilton Cat. 28.
Ane biggare can nocht make ane evin up wal without direction of his lyne
1564 Prot. Bk. W. Cumming 23b.
The vallis abut beigit with stane and clay
1567 Crail B. Ct. 2 Dec.
The said Dauid ordanit be the iugis to beige wp the said Jhone va
1587 Carmichael Etym. 28.
Maceries, wall without morter
1616 Wedderb. Compt Bk. 105.
The fewing … of his gudschiris ludgeing and half yard clos and wall
1665 Lauder Jrnl. 45.
Great tries torn up … and tost … by the waves; also hie strong wales falling
1671 Greyfriars Interments 562.
Elizabeth Runciman … (at the new vaill)
1676 Sheriffhall Coal Accompt 19 Aug.
Beiring moorment to big wal at the pitt
proverb. a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 1273.
Quhit wall is fuiles papyer
(2) 1623 Elgin Rec. II 181.
Thomas Rob … lap the kirk wall
1670 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. 13 April.
The lytle hous builded … within Sainct Androis Kirk wall is
(b) 1521 Dundee B. Ct. I 34 (14 June).
Thai sall pay v s. to the saidis fermoraris to mend the watter walch with
(c) 1628 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. II 363.
John Bell officer … warnit Meg Hauch and Robert Conquhour fra tua foir wollis possest be them to remove at Witsonday … and William McGowne to remove fra the ȝairds

b. Applied to a number of stones stacked so as to resemble a wall. Only pl. 1523 Stirling Ant. IV 195.
Robyne Spittal was in amerciament for the … taking furth of ane certain stanes … out of the place that they lay in beside the Greyfriars dyke … Robert Spittal offered … to prove that he was in possession of the place that James Mitchells stanes lay in walze altogether and his stanes and stuff lying and keiping the said places

c. Used in similes, with reference to something solid, strong or immobile, once, als paill als ony wall ? with reference to a white painted or plastered wall.(1) ?1438 Alex. ii 9951.
The flum Jordane partit he euin in tua … And stude on ilk syde as ane wall Quhill his men our passed
a1500 Prestis of Peblis 1249.
Suppose thay be als wicht as ony wall
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 17/73.
I synnit, Lord, nocht being strang as wall
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 186/39.
Treuth sall mak thé strang as ony wall
1513 Doug. i iii 33.
[Ships] chop on grond, and stand Lyke as a wall with sand warpit about
15.. Clar. iv 1060.
He in sadell sat as ony wall
1558-66 Knox I 212.
The erle of Angus host stood evin as a wall
1581 Hamilton Cath. Tr. 34.
Moyses … causit the valter stand up als ferme as ane wall quhil the Israelites past throu
(2) 1513 Doug. iv ix 56 (Sm.).
Hir visage wox als paill als ony wall [: thar withall]

d. Allusive or proverb., chiefly suggestive of the protective, limiting or separating functions of a wall. a1500 Henr. Test. Cress. 475.
Quhy spurnis thow aganis the wall To sla thy self and mend nathing at all?
1535 Stewart 36388.
Was no man than restrenȝit be the lawis, Quhilk gart the waikest oft ga to the wawis
1562-3 Winȝet II 7/7.
Our trew catholik religioun, quhareupon the inuincible wallis of vnitie … ar maist suirlie and only biggit
a1585 J. Maitland in Maitl. Q. 134/37.
And wald ȝe waird ȝow vp betwene twa wais [Sat.P. xxxvii, ways] ȝit so ȝe sall not from thair sayingis saue ȝow
a1605 Montg. Misc. P. iii 62.
Quhen ȝe leist wein, ȝour baks may to the wall

4. attrib.a. Wall toun, a walled town. = wallit toun (Wallit ppl. adj.). c1460 Wisd. Sol. (STS) 70.
I magnifyit [pr. magrifyit] my werkis makand castellis and vall-townis
a1500 Henr. Deth & Man 7.
Waltownis, castellis, towiris
c1475 Wall. viii 699.
This war the best off all, To kepe our strynth off castell and off wall toun
c1490 Irland Asl. MS 55/1.
Barnis that ar better content of ane appill than of ane walltoune or erldome of land
1584 Burntisland B. Ct. 23 June.
The persewaris clame anent the … peit stonis allegit to be … awaytane be neth the sie syd beneth the waltoun

b. Wall peit, stanis, materials used in building walls, specif. stone(s) of a quality, size, etc. for building (house, etc.) walls.(1) 1616 Dalyell Darker Superst. 52.
[A woman … threw] a wall peit at his face … and bled him thairwith
(2) 1529 M. Works Acc. (ed.) I 2.
Thair v dais vagis ledand wall stanis
1529–30 M. Works Acc. (ed.) I 7.
For certane walstane and pend of the quarell Salisberry
1529–30 M. Works Acc. (ed.) I 22.
Wynnand fre tailye and wallstanis
1529–30 M. Works Acc. (ed.) I 22.
Puttand doun vall stanis and fre tailye for the hurlis
1636–7 Dumbarton Common Gd. Acc. 91.
For walstaines thairto [sc. the town's oven]
1691 Donaldson Cramondiana 42.
To 160 loads wal ston … to the dyks at Elgin
attrib. 1529 M. Works Acc. (ed.) I 4.
iii dosone wall stane schriffonis for the bakis of the chymnais layng

c. Wall heid, the top of a wall. (Hede n.1 6.) 1526 Treas. Acc. V 276.
Ane servand … quhilk happinit to be hurt with ane stane of the wal heid of Cawder
1541 Treas. Acc. VII 495.
The furthtlaying of the grete artelȝerie to the wall heid to be schot at the birth of my lord duke
c1550 Rolland Ct. Venus ii 857.
On the walheid was … Dame Chaistitie, in armis most actiue
1570-3 Bann. Trans. 443.
Vtheris … went to the wall heid … and … cast doun stones
1584 Edinb. B. Rec. IV 372.
To mend the wall heids that boyes rin nocht alangs the sam
1589 Mill Mediæv. Plays 195.
For careing of fourtie daillis … to the West Port and for wpputting of thame to the wallheid
1604 Dundonald Par. Rec. 53.
Kaithrein Makteir brocht watter … and bad set it on the north syd of the byr on the wa heid
1682 Peebles B. Rec. II 102.
Whoever casts any faill upon any of the forsaids places reserved bot for walheads and skews shall be lyable [etc.]
attrib. 1636 Sc. Jrnl. Topogr. II 11/1.
Item, for ten hondreth of diffeit riggine and wae-heid towrs … Item … for theiking the hous first with diffet and then with stro

d. Walneuk, wall-syd, an area beside a wall. 1621 Misc. Maitl. C. I 199.
The said bell raice be rune … fra the gray stane … to the said lytill house, and fra that to the walneuk of Paislaye
1590 Crim. Trials I ii 199.
The said pictur … wes set at the wall-syd in the vester chalmer of the said hous … and wes schot at with ane elf-arrow-heid
1671 Greyfriars Interments 562.
James Russell … wall side

e. Walsted (Sted(e n.1), a walled area or enclosure, not, appar., the same as the usage in the later dial. (SND, s.v. Wa n. 1 (15)). 1659 Rothesay B. Rec. 978.
Item the house quhilks belongit to Archibald Kelburne his father callit the Walsteddis of the heighe house
1659 Rothesay B. Rec. 991.
Item the walsteds withe the hedge yeard
1659 Rothesay B. Rec. 998.
Item Croft Kairdoch and his wasteeds
1687 Rothesay B. Rec. 420.
In the quhilk tenement yarde and wastades … I obleiss me … to … sease the said Ninian Ker
1687 Newton Community Bk. 2b.
Whairby the saidd Johne Smith … reflectis against the said Robert Marshell for his building wpon his walstead at the north end of Johne Smiths tenement to the said Johne his gamill
1696 Rothesay B. Rec. 503.
The kilne walstade

f. Wal-bag (see SND wa-bag, s.v. Wa n. 1 (6)); wall candell beirar; valhoose (Hous n.1 2 b), objects intended for hanging on a wall.(1) 1674 Edinb. Test. LXXV 13a.
Ane peaper walbag
1695 Edinb. Test. LXXX 134b.
Pair of litle ualbags worth iiij lb. xv s.
(2) 1610 Hist. Kinloss A. xi.
4 brase wall candell beiraris
(3) c1575 Balfour Pract. 234.
Ane chair, ane kist, ane valhoose [marg.: L. hucha, Fr. huche.]

g. Wall-hous (Hous n.1 1), a house attached to the wall of another building. 1671 Orkney Rentals App. 64.
My Lord Bishop … orders that the Stewart and other judges of the country, be spoken vnto anent the wall-hous for keeping ther civil courts, and that other places of the church be not molested
1671 Craven Ch. in Orkney 46.
[The] wallhous [of St. Magnus Cathedral]

5. fig. or transf.Viewed as a. A means of protection or defence. See also Wer(e)wall n. b. A major structural element of a building. c. A means of separation, a barrier. d. [To lie] at the wail, ? to have succumbed in a conflict [cf. e.m.E. to go to the wall (1589)], to be in disarray.a., b. ?1438 Alex. ii 1773.
Me think his sheld ane castell gude; … Me think his sword ane wall of steill
c1420 Wynt. i 538.
Paradys The quhilk is cerklyd wytht-out Wytht wallys of fyre
1490 Irland Mir. I 116/10.
The humane nature is ane of the gret wallis and pillaris of thi hevinly palice … erekkit … to thi honour and glore
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 6/73.
Imperiall wall, place palestrall Of peirles pulcritud; Tryumphale hall, hie trone regall Of Godis celsitud
1562-3 Winȝet II 6/1.
To be a faythful souldiour … in the wpbigging of thir haly wallis
a1568 Bann. MS 17b/73.
Sweit Lord … strenth the wallis of Thy conclave Jerusalem Thy haly grave Quhilk makis ws ransone fre
1581 Sat. P. xliv 27.
The Lord behaldis ȝour knauerie … Ȝour doctrine, and ȝour lyuis vicious, As of His sanctuarie ȝe brak the vall
1644 Hume Douglas (STS) 175/8.
Terrible … in armes … the scurge of England and siker tairge and wal of Scotland
c. c1520-c1535 Nisbet Luke xix 43.
And thin ennimyes sal cumpas thee with a vale [P. pale; L. vallo] and thai sal ga about thee and mak thee strait on all sides
1562-3 Winȝet I 27/4.
To attempt sic proude misordour sall … big vp ane wal betuix vs and ȝou in religioun
d. 1581 Cal. Sc. P. VI 121.
[Our nobility lie] at the wail

6. Walling, material with which to build walls. 1616 M. Works Acc. (ed.) II 9.
ix scoir viii laidis of wall and pend from the new frie querrell

7. A rock face, naturally occurring or ? created by mining. Also attrib. b. The bank of a river.(a) c1420 Wynt. i 606.
The craggys and the rockys all Crape to gyddyre in ane walle
1685 Sheriffhall Coal Accompt 14 March.
For curing the aire to the wallis face
(b) 1613 Reg. Privy C. IX 545.
[They] transportit thairfra a certan nomber of punsheonis and caryed thame to the yaird-fute foiranent the craig woll, quhair thay brak the same in peiceis and kaist thame in the gutter
attrib. 1676 Sheriffhall Coal Accompt 8 July.
Reding of the wal face in the march and pyling it to James Jonston & James Cunninghame
b. c1500-c1512 Dunb. (STS) lxxxviii 27.
Thy ryuer … Whose beryall stremys … Under thy lusty wallys renneth down
a1568 Bann. MS 229b/118.
Vnder that vnlonkest waw Quhair Tay ran doun

8. The side of a ship.Cf. Wail(l n. of which waill has been taken to be an example. It may, however, belong here a1578 Pitsc. I 251/15, 16.
Scho [sc. the Great Michael] was xij scoir of futtis of length and xxxv futte withtin the wallis [I. wylis]; scho was ten fute thik in the waill cuttit jeastis of aik witht hir wallis and burdis on ewerie syde sa stark and thik [etc.]

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"Wal n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Jul 2024 <>



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