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

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

Wattir wark, Watter wark, -work, n. Also: wattyr-, vattyr wark, water work, watter wrak, water wrake. [Late ME and e.m.E. water werkes (1443), water worke (a1586).]

1. A structure or assemblage of structures built in a river to facilitate fishing. See Wattirman n. for a further example.(a) 1564 Inverness Rec. I 117.
Wattyr wark
1564–5 Inverness Rec. I 120.
Ane brocht strekyne be Johne Ross in … behalf the rest of the takkismen of the vattyr on Johne Crom [etc.] … that … tha brak the kist in the vattyr wark, and tuk out of it the fysche
1584 Inverness Rec. I 295.
The provest [etc.] … and wattirmen … hes … ordanit that tuaye kistis salbe maid to wit ane on euerilk syde of the wattir wark or the maist commodious pairt of the said wattir vpon the expenses of the proprietaris … of the said wattir and fisching thairof
(b) 1591–2 Reg. Great S. 679/1.
[The King grants to the burgh of Inverness] aquam de Nes … inter lapidem Clachnachaggag et mare, cum piscariis … cum potestate incipere piscari dict. aquam cimbis et retibus annuatim 10 Nov., et sustinere crates et corbes lie cruvis ex utroque latere dicte aque secundum antiquum usum, cum privilegio lie thrie kistis infra lie watterwrak ut usus fuit
1641 Acts V 540/1.
The said burghe of Innernes … to menteine … the cruves fra and wpoun baith sydis the water of Nes … withe priviledge and libertie of three kistes within the said water wrake as vse is with all the kistes proffittes and commodities thairof

2. A structure, bulwark, wall or the like built to control the flow of a river. 1627 Dumbarton B. Rec. 11.
Twelff lib. xiij s. iv d. to be imployit on the wattir wark
1627 Dumbarton B. Rec. 16.
That the honest men of the counsall go with the baillies to vissit the wattir wark this nyt at the low wattir
1629 Dumbarton B. Rec. 31.
Persounis awand monyie belanging to the wattir wark
1661 Edinb. B. Rec. IX 229.
Watter works
1661 Acts VII 23/2.
Levin being an river of most strong current not only is therby the lands & burrow rudes therof … overflowen and the water works defaced which wer … builded by the supplie of … King James the sext … who … knew well how much it imported … to have the said burgh preserved from the impetuousnes of the said river and to have a constant passage betuixt the said burgh & the hielands without boats

3. A structure or mechanism or system of structures, etc. used to distribute, control, etc. water: a. In supplying Edinburgh with water. b. In ? removing water from a mine or ? using it as a motive power.a. 1629 Edinb. B. Rec. VII 61.
Anent the watter wark intendit to be brocht in be him to this burgh
1670 Edinb. B. Rec. X 92.
The … fundations of hydragogick instruments in watter works as of pumps siphons [etc.]
1675 Edinb. B. Rec. X 235.
The pyps cocks cisternes and everie thing relatting to the water works
1676 Edinb. B. Rec. X 288.
Efter the inbringing of the water to the citie and finishing of the wholl water works als weill as to the cisternes upon the hie streit … as the lead pyps that convoyes the water … that some … able … persone that hes skill … in … menteining of the said water work both as to the kellheads … clangeing dowells … for cleangeing of the lead pyps [etc.]
b. 1645 Tulliallan Coal Wks. 151a.
To Thomas Henderson for alls with eak as to be ernis to the water work [£17]
1672 Sinclair Hydrostaticks 298.
(Pumping) engines are of several sorts as when men draw with ordinary buckets, or when there is a horse-work, or water-work, and that either by a chain with plates, and a pump, or chain and buckets
16… Information of Coalheugh at Campbell in Argyll Mun. (Estates & Forfeitures).
I … did mett … with ane lyne the deepness of ane levell and found that it might be drawne at a more easie reat then ane water work

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"Wattir Wark n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 May 2024 <>



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