Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)
Hide Quotations Hide Etymology
About this entry:
First published 1960 (SND Vol. V).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.
HIRSEL, n.1, v.1 Also hirsle, hirsell, hersel; †hirdsel(l), †herdshal; hissel. [hɪrsl, hɛrsl]
I. n. 1. A flock of sheep, the number of sheep looked after by one shepherd or on one small farm (Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–1926 Wilson; ne. and s.Sc. 1957); a drove of cattle (Ayr. 1812 W. Aiton Agric. Ayr. 692; Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 271; Mry.1 1925). Also fig. of a spiritual flock.Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 18:
Tenting his Hirsle on the Moor-land Green. [p. 70 hirdsell.]Rxb. 1767 Craig & Laing Hawick Trad. (1898) 234:
If the Deponent's hirsel . . . did not fflee and make way for the Town's hirsel . . . Armstrong used to hound the Deponent's . . . hirsel very severely.Abd. p.1768 A. Ross Works (S.T.S.) 194:
An' now poor Ken is on his travels keen. But first he ranks his herdshal o' the green.Sc. 1773 Sc. Farmer I. 453:
To the ewe-hirsel, the richest pasture . . . the most highland part of the farm . . . for the yeld-sheep-hirsel . . . the management of the lamb or hog-hirsel.Ayr. 1785 Burns To W. Simpson xxiv.:
This was deny'd, it was affirm'd; The herds an' hissels were alarm'd; The rev'rend gray-beards rav'd an' storm'd.Sc. 1808 Lockhart Scott i.:
The old shepherd went carefully from drove to drove, till he found a hirsel likely to answer their purpose.Lth. 1829 G. Robertson Recoll. 369:
He had the finest hirsel of beautiful cattle of his own rearing that I have seen.Sc.(E) 1871 P. H. Waddell Psalms lxxviii. 71:
An' in Israel, his hirsel till keep.Ags. 1890 A. Lowson J. Guidfellow xxi:
As the tender herbage . . . to the hungry hersel.Kcb. 1897 T. Murray Frae the Heather 96:
Ae morn when oot viewing his hirsel Three tups short in number was he.Lnk. 1919 G. Rae Clyde and Tweed 71:
Far frae this waefu' country fu' o' loss, Where nae sheep hirsel on the hill-taps feed.Sc. 1948 Scots Mag. (Oct.) 36:
On such farms the ground to be covered is so extensive that the sheep-run is usually gathered in hirsels, or sections.
2. An allotted area of pasturage to be grazed by a flock of sheep under the care of one shepherd (Ayr.4 1928; m. and s.Sc. 1957). Also attrib.Sc. 1822 Scott F. Nigel xxvi.:
Like a poor lamb that has wandered from its own native hirsel.Sc. 1879 A. B. Grosart in Fergusson Works 145:
The morning's “hirsel” is commonly near the Steading . . . In the after-part of the day the cattle are usually sent to the “outfield hirsel.”Lnl. 1910 J. White Eppie Gray 9:
Frae Belstane up tae Blacklaws steep, Was ance a hirsel for the sheep.Slk. 1922 Jnl. Agric. V. 283–4:
The “hirsel” is a range of pasturage occupied by one group of sheep, and each hirsel is a unit in itself . . . a “hogg hirsel” for about 600 ewe-hoggs.s.Sc. 1938 Border Mag. (Jan.) 11:
Each house serves a big hirsel of high heathery moorland, and many anxieties are experienced when the weather is wild.Bwk. 1955 Farming News (8 Oct.):
Mr J — E — . . . is of course most concerned in the breeding of the Blackface on four hirsels, each with its 30 score.
Comb.: hirsel-rinning, gathering sheep at a distance.Slk. 1829 Hogg Shep. Cal. (1874) xx.:
My uncle Hoy's kind were held in estimation over the whole country for their docility in what is termed hirsel-rinning.
3. A flock of anything, a large number or quantity, a multitude, a crowd (Ags. 1808 Jam.; s.Sc. 1825 Jam.; Uls. 1924 North. Whig (14 Jan.); Ags. 1957).Ayr. 1789 D. Sillar Poems 195:
He then roar'd out a hew an' cry, That a' the hirsle neerhan' by Wad muster up fu' speedily.Sc. 1808 R. D. C. Brown in Ramsay Gentle Shep. (Scenery ed.) 712:
Sum gaed in hirsells, sum in pairs.Slk. 1818 Hogg B. of Bodsbeck viii.:
Ye're just telling a hirsel o' eindown lees.Ayr. a.1851 A. Aitken Poems (1873) 28:
Though hirsel on hirsel o' chickens were hatched.Wgt. 1885 G. Fraser Poems 177:
There's the douce working man wi' a hirsel o' weans.
II. v. To arrange in hirsels; in gen., to classify, arrange in order (s.Sc. 1808 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., Rxb. 1957). Vbl.n. hirseling, the act of separating into hirsels (Sc. 1825 Jam.).Dmf. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XIII. 573:
There is room to hirsel or keep separate, different kinds of sheep, which makes the want of fences the less felt.Peb. 1802 C. Findlater Agric. Peb. 195:
The principles of hirselling are, to class into separate flocks such sheep as are endowed with different abilities.Rxb. 1821 A. Scott Poems 94:
Whan a' the rout gat hirsel'd right, The noise grew loud and louder.Hdg. 1885 J. Lumsden Rhymes & Sk. 168:
Clover Riggs an' Bunkum Ha', in the persons o' their lordly and carnivorous chiefs, wad herd and hirsel, or war an' worry, thegither that nicht in the ae den!
Hirsel n.1, v.1
You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.
"Hirsel n.1, v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 4 Jun 2023 <http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/hirsel_n1_v1>