Glossary

Scottish basketry terms

Words associated with Scottish basketry have unique terms in Scots, Gaelic, and in Shetland and Orcadian dialects. Traveller basket-makers also have their own basketry terminology. Our word lists are increasing and being refined all the time as people send in new words, spellings and meanings for basketry-related words, so these pages are frequently being updated. We may well have got things wrong, whether spellings or use, and we may have left something important out, so if you can help with this, please contact the editor of this page on sjb20@st-andrews.ac.uk. Many thanks.

General Scots basket names

Cran – quarter cran a measure for herring

Creel (Gaelic cliabh)

  • Back creel
  • Arm creel
  • Fishwive’s creel
  • Lobster creel

Greatlin basket – great line basket like a quarter cran, but more upright (SLA)

Mat – a basket of plaited straw with two rope handles. Long and shallow, for carrying salmon, c 30 inches long. It was sewn up with a big needle to keep it closed after it had been filled. Used by a gamekeeper, for clients fishing on an estate (SLA)

Maun –

  1. a shallow, two-handled basket, normally of wicker or wooden slats, now generally used for potatoes or other dry produce (in Dumfries, Renfrewshire, Ayrshire, Angus, Moray)
  2. In fishing, a large, round basket in which catch is collected (Fife). Hence mancril (maun-creel) for carrying fish or bait.
  3. A bread platter used for holding oatcakes on the table and generally made of slats of wood. Also called a breed man (SLA)

Murlin, murlig. – a round narrow-mouthed basket used by fishermen, usually shaped like a large flower pot. Also described as a very deep frame basket used by Newhaven fishwives on top of their creels. Also used by a spinner for holding woll. Gaelic murlainn, murlag, a basket for holding wool. (SLA) and see in Baxter colln

Murlag – Caithness. A stout basket of cane with a solid base, shoulder strap and lifting lid (SLA)

Pack randing – weave for weaving side uprights of a creel (SLA)

Reticule basket for carrying on the arm (also reddicle, redicel) (SLA)

Rip – a round wicker (and straw basket used for carrying fish or eggs or coiled fishing lines (1808)

Scull

  • Line scull
  • Potato scull, tattie scull (SLA)

Spale basket – baskets made of slaths of wood, usually low and wide used for tatties. Like a Cumbian swill basket. SW Scotland (SLA)

Tattie basket or tattie scull

Sources

SLA – Scottish Life Archive

 

Gaelic names

Ancu -

Bac-cliath – a small creel, sometimes known as a childs creel, but also used by adults, not on the back but under the arm (DS -Donald MacDonald personal communication)and Dwellys.

Bairneach – limpet? (SLA)

bass – woven rush mat (SLA)

Briagan (a’ chleibh), toobhaisden – holes around the centre of a creel (SLA)

Briagan cleibh – a strip of open work round a west coast creel for helping to lift a loaded creel on to another’s back. (SLA)

Breugan – a space made in the weaving of a creel , or open work band, which can then be used to thread the ‘iris’ or creel strap through for carrying on the back (DS)

calbh – twig or osier (SLA);

caol – willow or osier (DS)

calbhas , calbhach – wickerwork wagon (SLA)

calltuinn – hazel. (SLA)

ceap – frame for making creel (SLA); template (DS)

cisean – a hamper on wheels (SLA); cisium – chariot of wicker work (SLA)

An ciosan – ‘The meal skep of the Lewis crofter’ (SLA)

Ciosan – ‘A meal measure presented to a bride on her wedding day. Diameter 7 inches, 4 inches deep’. A small, closely woven basket from sea-bent. It holds about half a stone of meal. Common in Lewis about 50 years ago (from 1950sish) (SLA)

Creel or cliabh (Gaelic) general term covering several forms of Scottish (and Irish) baskets, often carried on the back….Made by inserting hooped warp rods into the ground or a frame to hold in position, and weaving upwards. (SLA)

See also –

cliabh barnaich – shell fish creel (SLA)

cliabh mana – peat creel (SLA)

crealagh,

an curra, an t-inneach – the woof or weft (SLA)

dluth – randing weave (DS)

dronnag – a pad in a woman’s back to form a rest for a loaded creel (SLA)

fesgar – grass (SLA)

gailleanaach – willow (SLA)

iris; uchdach (Lewis) shoulder band, breast band (Lewis) (SLA); creel strap (DS)

luachar – rushes (Juncus) (SLA)

mudag, murlag (Argyll) – ‘Wool receptacle for holding fleece (a conical creel), 7 inches at the neck , 13 inches at the base, 12 inches high. (SLA) mudag see also HFM colln; murlag Gaelic

mas – the base. (SLA)

maun

  1. a shallow, two-handled basket, normally of wicker or wooden slats, now generally used for potatoes or other dry produce (in Dumfries, Renfrewshire, Ayrshire, Angus, Moray)
  2. In fishing, a large, round basket in which catch is collected (Fife). Hence mancril (maun-creel) for carrying fish or bait.
  3. A bread platter used for holding oatcakes on the table and generally made of slats of wood. Also called a breed man (SLA)

Muran – marram grass? (SLA)

murlam, muran

murlin, murlig. – a round narrow-mouthed basket used by fishermen, usually shaped like a large flower pot. Also described as a very deep frame basket used by Newhaven fishwives on top of their creels. Also used by a spinner for holding wool. Gaelic murlainn, murlag, a basket for holding wool (SLA)

murran – bent grass (SLA)

meal girnel

plata-mhuilinn, plata-shil – (SLA); were  recently made in Heisker for carrying grain and meal by boat to and from the mill. They are so thick as to be almost impervious to spray and rain (E Bev)

rusgan – chaff separator (SLA)

rushie – basket (traveller name?) (SLA)

scull or skull.

Slat – a length of willow (DS)

Shiaman – wicker frame, woven straw rope; see also cailteag shiaman (SLA)

Staingean; an dluth – ribs, the warp (SLA); stakes (DS)

Tabh – a conical fishing net (SLA); (E Bev)

Sources

DS – Dawn Susan (Scottish Basketmakers Circle)

Dwelly – The Illustrated Gaelic-English Dictionary by E. Dwelly. 1993 [1901] Birlinn: Edinburgh

E Bev – North Uist: its archaeology and topography by Erskine Beveridge. 2008 [1911]. Birlinn: Edinburgh

HFM – Highland Folk Museum

SLA – Scottish Life Archive

 

Shetland and Orkney basket names

Orkney

Band –

  1. Plaited straw or heather carrying rope of cubbie or caisies
  2. The bent grass band binding round?, of gloy, heather etc in cubbie, straw backed chairs

Beesoms – Orkney. Made from long straw (SLA)

Braid, braithi? – band around top of cubbie; fesgre (SLA)

Buddie or budie, Orkney. Woven from docks and used to carry fish (SLA)

builtz – a bait cubbie or sea cubbie of straw of bukhans?? (SLA)

Buist – Orkney small box. (SLA)

Buivy – grain basket (SLA)

Caisie (also cassie, cazzie, culzee?, calzee?, kaisie, kazy) – Orkney. Largest domestic back or pony basket, made of twisted straw (gloy) or dockens

  • Peat caisies
  • Tattie caisies
  • Meal kaisies (SLA)

Cubbie, kubby – Orkney – small basket (from heather?) used for holding bait and fish in sea line-fishing. They come in a great variety of shapes and sizes, and are usually smaller than a caisies. Cup-shaped creel of straw or heather with a fettle as in

  • seed kubby
  • peat cubby
  • bait cubby
  • fish cubby (SLA)

Dockens – Shetland and Orkney. Cut dried docks. They can be left out in misty weather to make pliable for working. (SLA)

Fettle, flootie? – strap of cubbie or caisies made of straw or heather (SLA)

Flackie, flakkie – Orkney, Shetland, Fair Isle. Mats woven from long straw (SLA)

Gloy – Orkney, Shetland and Caithness. Cleaned oat straw used for kishies and caisies, flates?bikes? and small simmens. Gloy is bound in little sheaves 4 or 5 inches in diameter called tates or knocks of gloy. (SLA)

Halflode – straw or maize for horse back. 3 bushels (SLA)

Hallow – big bundle of straw. (SLA)

Heevie – kind of cubbie, like an inverted hive with band for carrying on back used for fish. (SLA)

Kleek – brace-shaped rope twister for straw ropes or sookans. (SLA)

Kraaknik – ?

Kuivy – block of wood with grooves in for laying strands in ropes (SLA)

Lubbo – meal measure, neatly made of bent. (SLA)

Luppie, luppy – Orkney. box shaped basket used for carrying oats and bere-meal to be ground at the quern. It is also a meal measure, of regular shape, and tightly woven from straw or bent grass. 1866; straw woven kubby for lifting or carrying meal, especially grain to quern or knockin steen; made if different sizes, some to jhold half a stone or a stone??; small basket made of straw or other similar material and frequently used as a measure for meal 1848 (SLA)

Maisie – pannier or straw woven basket in pack saddle (SLA)

Mesgar – small cubbie on horses muzzle; small open-meshed straw basket used on a muzzle for a horse 1027 (SLA)

murlin, murlig. – Caithness. A round narrow-mouthed basket used by fishermen, usually shaped like a large flower pot. Also used by a spinner for holding wool. Gaelic murlainn, murlag, a basket for holding wool (SLA)

Now meis ??? – basket carried on back SLA

Reck – brace-shaped rope twist (SLA)

Scoo – Orkney and Shetland. A large flat basket into which herring are put once they are gutted (SLA)

Simmens

Sookans -Orkney.  straw ropes (SLA)

Taetes – Orkney. Straw verticals in a caisies. (SLA)

 

Shetland

Aboot-geng – Shetland. The band which forms the rim of a meshie

Anker büddie – Shetland, potato basket (SLA)

Bend – Shetland. A complete bend consists of a klibber (wooden pack saddle); a flakki (straw mat); two riva Kishies (panniers made of straw ropes and shaped like  kishie and plaited like maishies; two maishies (rectangular carry-alls with a carrying loop at each end) (SMA)

Bent – marram grass, stronger and more waterproof than straw or floss (SMA)

Bent bushim – broom made of marram grass (SMA)

Bicket – (SMA)

Bøddy, bøddi, buddie, büddie – Shetland. Similar to a kishie, but lower and wider in proportion with more vertical sides. Can be made from straw, dockens, floss or bent (SLA)

  • Sea büddies (for fishing boats were always made from dockens and were open-woven (SLA)
  • Mill or meal buddies – larger than sea-büddies and always made of straw. Used to carry corn to the mill and meal back to the croft (SLA)
  • Sillack buddies – for taking to the craigs (ie fishing for sillacks with a rod from a rocky shore (SLA)
  • Tulie büddie – a basket with different compartments for holding tools (1866). (SMA)

Clew – Shetland. Wound up ball, as in a clew of simmints (SMA)

Cuddy, cuddie, kuddi – Shetland, a small kishie-like pail, often with a handle?, for carrying limpets or shell-fish for bait. Keep it with hot water before being used? Can be made from straw, dockens, floss or bent (SLA)

  • Limpet cuddie small basket made of dockens, about 9 inches high by 6 inches, used for carrying limpets or any shore bait
  • Taatie cuddies held about 1.5 buckets of potatoes and were made of straw, rather open-woven so that earth could fall through when the potatoes were put in. They did not have a shoulder strap (band) but two loops or handles at each side.
  • Saut cuddies were used to contain salt and hung up on the kitchen wall. They were an unusual shape and usually made of straw. (SLA)

Dockens, dokkins, bulmint – Shetland and Orkney. Cut dried docks. They can be left out in misty weather to make pliable for working. (SLA); dried dock weed stalks, used because they did not rot so readily as straw (SMA)

Errands – (SMA)

Eye – twists of straw required for, eg a kishie. (SLA)

Fettle, fettlel, fettil – Shetland. Band, bearing band used on a kishie. Loop of rope fixed to a large basket or bundle to enable it to be carried on one’s back (SLA), (SMA)

Flackie, flakkie, flakki, flaaki – Orkney, Shetland, Fair Isle. Mats woven from long straw (SLA); large mat made from oat straw, can be used in winnowing oats. May be bound with shop bought coir (more recent versions), gloi or flos simmints (SMA)

Flittin – transporting as in flittin peats. (SMA)

Flos, floss – rush (SMA)

Horse buddies – Shetland. (SLA)

Gloy, gloi – Orkney, Shetland and Caithness. Cleaned oat straw used for kishies and caisies, flates?bikes? and small simmens. Gloy is bound in little sheaves 4 or 5 inches in diameter called tates or knocks of gloy. (SLA); straw cleaned of grass (SMA)

Haap – Shetland. A loop worked along the top edge of the kishie, opposite the kishie band. (SLA)

Have – Shetland. A small basket of rushes or straw, widened and flat at the bottom (SLA)

Hovie (kovie)? – Shetland. Smaller version of a büddie, from dockens? (SLA)

Hyog (rog?) – Shetland. Upright bunches of straw forming the walls of the kishie. Can also be used from dockens and floss. It means literally a strip. A man might say he was ‘laying up the hyogs’. You needed good teeth to do this. (SLA)

Kilpack – Shetland. A small basket of dockens or twigs with a loop to facilitate carrying in the hand (1866). A wooden box in which bait is collected. (SLA)

Kishie – Shetland. (SLA). Back creel made from straw or dockens, even cane. Thrown over the head and” between your shoulders” except when light. (SLA); general carrying pannier used for carrying peat, muck, potatoes etc (SMA)

  • Kishie baand –band at third transverse row down from the top edge of the kishie, the shoulder strap used for carrying or bearing the kishie. (SLA)
  • Ripping baand – a simmens lanyard fastened opposite the haap used to rope down goods on the kishie. (SLA)

Kishie raas – Shetland. Piles of muck from a kishie, ready for spreading. (SLA)

Loopie – Shetland. A small basket made of straw 1866 (SLA)

Maishie, meshie, mesi – Shetland. (SLA) oblong of meshes form by winding rather than knotting, with a carrying band at each end to form an open pannier for carrying hay, corn, cabbages etc both manually and on pony back, and found on every Shetland croft (SMA)

murlin, murlig. – Caithness. A round narrow-mouthed basket used by fishermen, usually shaped like a large flower pot. Also used by a spinner for holding wool. Gaelic murlainn, murlag, a basket for holding wool (SLA)

Rep – strap (SMA)

Reppin band – rope over the mouth of a boddi (SMA)

Rivvie – Shetland. Wide shallow basket (SLA)

Skoag – cotton cord. (SMA)

Scoo – Orkney and Shetland. A large flat basket into which herring are put once they are gutted (SLA)

Shackle – hobble (SMA)

Shuttin – Shetland, making as in the ‘shuttin’ of a maishie (SMA)

Simmans, simmens, simminds, siminds, simends, simmends, simments (SLA); ropes made of gloy, floss (floos simmints), bent grass or heather (SMA)

  • Sma’ simmints – fine simmints
  • Grof simmints – coarse simmints used for thatching

Skeb – Shetland. A large straw basket for corn containing about 4 kishies (SLA)

Snivri – wooden peg used in securing a fettil to a  bøddi (SMA)

Squil – basket for holding wool, shaped like a bee-hive mde from straw (SLA)

Tekk – Shetland thatch (SMA)

Toig – Shetland. A small coiled straw basket for holding meal. 1866. (SLA) A small coiled basket made from gloy or bent grass. It could be bound with flos simmints, bent grass simmints, or any kind of bought in twine (such as white cotton or red couraline, as seen on more recent examples). A toig could be used for several purposes, including holding eggs, kloos (balls of wool), fruit in more recent years. It frequently had a raised centre which stopped round objects rolling together. (SMA)

Tussa – pampas grass (SMA)

Sources

SLA – Scottish Life Archive

SMA – Shetland Museum and Archives

Traveller basketry terms

Extract from the Scottish Life Archive

‘Traveller basket-making terms, as collected from John White, basket-maker (and vagrant), Grassmarket, Edinburgh, 1958′

Hawkin’ rushie – oblong basket

Gani-rushie – dockin’ hen basket

Skeen [skin] – round band

Han’ weavin’ – weaving of the skin round the stakes

Bottom spales or spokes? – on base of basket

Round weaving, also called ferrantin – flat weaving or skin weaving

Flat weaving – skin weaving

The bow o’ the basket – the centre stick of the handle

Plaits – “I could have made a basket with twenty thousand plaits.”