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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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Scamel, Skemell, Schamill, n. Also: scamle, skamel, -ill, -yll, -le, skammell; skemle, -il(l, skemmel(l, -il(l, -yll; skaymle; scambill, -ble, skambill, -ble; skembell, -ble; schamyll; schemill, shemle, shemmell; shamble, schambil; shemble, schembill, scheambill. [ME and e.m.E. schamel (a1289), -il (c1305), shamyll (Rolle), sheamble (1477), etc., OE sc(e)amel, OS skamel, MLG schemel, MDu. schamel, schemel, ON skemill, L. scamellum, dimin. of scamnum bench.]

1. A bench. c1475 Wall. xi 1352.
Thai xxxty dayis his band thai durst nocht slaik, Quhill he was bundyn on a skamyll off ayk, With irn chenȝeis

2. specif. A bench or table on which meat or fish was displayed and cut into portions for sale. Passing into 3 below.Once, pl. with sing. concord.(1) 14.. Acts I 333/2.
At thai sell flesch and coueris it and nocht opin in the window or the scamel
1538 Haddington B. Rec. (Robb) 21 Sept.
Thai discharge the skamlys, and at na nytbor set thair stulys to mak merchandice, bot under thair awn stair
1540–1 Elgin Rec. I 58.
Accusit for the bying of slayne motone vpon the skamillis of this brucht fra vtheris flessouris and selling the samyn incontinent to the nechtboris
1549–50 Stirling B. Rec. I 58.
All fleschouris and the takismen of the skemlis tobe fre to brek fischis apon the commoun skemlis
1551 Edinb. B. Rec. II 160.
Ane burd to cum no farther furth nor the owir stop of the said buith dur to lay his geir on daylie becaus the want of the said windok vnder the pane of birnyng of the skemmillis and burdis quhairon the burd salhappin to stand
a1561 Q. Kennedy Breif Tract. (ed.) 118/18.
Quha belewit that Our Saluiour wald hef giffin his flesche to hef beine couponit and diuidit as flesche deuidit one the skamles
1562 Stirling Chart. 211.
The fische skemmyllis sett to Robert Scott for vij merkis
1563 Aberd. B. Rec. I 356.
It is statut that no fische be bocht to be brokin on the skemlis be the flescheris
a1570-86 Maitl. F. 438/19.
The flescheris skamlis [Maitl. Q. 226/19 skambillis] are gane dry The heiland men bringis in na ky
1595 Stirling Chart. 219.
Fesche skammellis set to James Wolsone for iiij li. xl d.
1601 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. I 401.
That the haill fleshe skemmellis be put behind the tolbuithe quhairthrow the flesche mercat may be thair altogidder
1649 Old Dundee I 421.
And the flesh skambles at the last
1671 Edinb. B. Rec. X 103.
The councill … did [not] … permitt any flesh stocks or skemells to be affixed on the grund of any pairt of the hie street
(b) 1530 Haddington B. Rec. (Robb) 11 Oct.
That na schamylls be sett one the gait onder the pane of escheiting of thair paks
(2) 1561 Aberd. B. Rec. I 334.
For makking of ane skaymlis of tre at the fysche cors, for laying of the quhyt fysche tharupoune

3. coll. pl. The meat or fish market of a town, within which animals or fish might be slaughtered and prepared for sale.Like the Mercat-cors of a burgh, a place where public proclamations might be made, and public punishments inflicted.(a) 1549–50 Stirling B. Rec. I 58 (see 2 (1) above). 1551 Old Dundee II 299.
1553 Ib. 191.
[The Council] dividit the burgh into four quarters … the quarter frae the skemmels to Silvester Ramsay's in Argylesgait
1582–3 Elgin Rec. I 170.
That na owtlandis flescher … slay ony flesche at the skemils … except on the tua mercat dayis
1591 Ib. II 18.
Ane proclamatioun to be maid at the mercat place callit the skemles be ane townis officier
1592 Ib. 24.
Thatt quhatsumeuir persoun beis … found to haif spoikin filthie and abhominable langage … salbe … convoyit … to the tolbuyt … and fra thence to the skameles and thair be phippit
a1597-1617 Hist. Jas. VI (1825) 119.
Thay marchit … to Edinburgh, and plantit a gardehous at the common scambles thair
1597 (c1650) Dundee B. Laws 50.
Vpon the hie street … betwixt the flesh skembells and the old toolbuith
(b) 1627 Kirkcaldy B. Rec. 159.
That the shemmells be theikit without delay
1680 Elgin Rec. I 324.
Tack of the scheambills to James Winchester for ane yeir … the raitts due to him to be … each ox 2 s. 8 d. [etc.]
1687 Ib. 343.
Roup of the schembillis
1692 Conv. Burghs IV 596.
Accompt of the comon good of … Montrose. … The flesh shemles
1698 Dumfries Fleshers.
The selling of all sort of unsufficient meat in the shambles or shops of any of the freemen

4. Comb. with mail Male n.1 and stok.(a) 1548 Elgin Rec. I 94.
The tollis and skemmill maill
1553 Donaldson Cramondiana 53.
For the half towis and skemill mailles of Witsundaye and Mertimes
1581 Hamilton Cath. Tr. 47.
Thay sa vnderstude … the flesch as rent in pecis in a deid carion, or sauld on skemble stoks [L. in macello]
Id. Facile Tr. 376.
Lyk flesche bocht at the scamble stokis
(b) 1542 Elgin Rec. I 73.
The prouest etc. hes set the comond tollis with the schamill maill to Dauid Tailȝour
1545 Ib. 86.
The haill tovn hes sett the haill tollis and schemill maill for thre ȝeiris

5. fig. a. A place of death, carnage or execution. 1572 Buch. Detect. (1727) 65.
Bot caryit out as a corse, or rather drawin, as it wer, to the schambilis
1666-74 Fraser Polichron. 338.
[In March 1649] they set up their shembles in Edinburgh

b. In such phr. as to sell, lede, convoy or deliver (a person) to the scamels, to betray to murder, to deliver to execution. 1563-1570 Buch. Wr. 23.
Sum of thame ar counsalouris of the kingis slauchter, sum convoyaris of him to the scamles
1572 Sat. P. xxxv 94.
We sall avenge it on that clan, Ȝour freind that to the scambills sauld
Ib. xxxvi 40.
Syne sauld him to the skambillis lyik ane scheip
1584 Colville Lett. 49.
Till they be led to the skemles as wes the poor Erll of Mortoun
a1597-1617 Hist. Jas. VI (1825) 23.
He recompansit that loss with the selling of the noble Erle of Northumberland to the scamblis
c1610 Melville Mem. 256.
He [sc. Lethington] died in Leith before that the rest wer delyuerit to the skamles

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"Scamel n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 May 2024 <>



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