See also: daugh.

In Scotland, at least as early as the 11th century – 19th century, a unit of land area. From the Gaelic dabhach.

In the west, where land were heavily influenced by the Norse invasions, tenpenny land, that is a piece of land liable for an annual payment of 10 pennies as the tax called skat.

In the east, 

for further reading

Cosmo Innes.
Lectures on Scottish Legal Antiquities.
Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas, 1872.

Pages 272-273. A copy of the relevant portion.

John McQueen.
Pennyland and doach in south western Scotland: A preliminary note.
Scottish Studies, #23, 1979.

A. McKerral.
Ancient denominations of agricultural land in eastern Scotland.
Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol. 78, Part 1, pages 39-80 ( 52, 1944.

F. L. W. Thomas.
Ancient valuation of land in the west of Scotland.
Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol. 20, page 208, 1886.



John Jamieson.
An Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language, volume II.
A New Edition, Carefully Revised and Collated, with the Entire Supplement Incorporated, by John Longmuir and David Donaldson.
Paisley: Alexander Gardner, 1880.
Page 21-22. Judging by its first appearance in the Supplement, most of the entry appears to be the work of Donaldson.

DAWACHE, DAVOCH, DAVACH, s. A considerable tract of land, a small district, including several ox-gangs, S.

"Gif ane dwelles vpon land perteining to ane frie man, and as ane husband man haldes lands of him; and he happin to deceis ; his master sail haue the best eaver, or beast (the best aucht) of his cattell, provyding that the husband man did haue of him the aucht parte of ane dawache of land, or mair." Quon[iam] Att[achiamenta] c. 23, s. 1.

Dawache seems evidently connected with Teut. daghwand, modius agri ; versus, id quod uno die arari aut verti potest; from dagh, dies, and wenden, vertere;" Gl. Sibb. [The Glossary in James Sibbald's Chronicles of Scottish Poetry, Edinburgh 1802] But a portion of land, that required the labour of a certain number of cattle for the year, would not be denominated from the work of a single day.

In the Lat. copy it is Davata terrae. Bullet [Mémoires sur la Langue Celtique, Besançon, 1752] absurdly makes it the same with davede, dabede, which he renders jusques à; because davata, he says, has been extended to signify a barony, as if the meaning were, exactly, equivalent. The word is of Gael. origin ; from damh, pron. dav, an ox. Damhach was the term formerly used in Gael, for an oxgate of land. It is still used in the counties of Ross and Banff.

“There is a Davoch of land belonging to this parish in the valley of Strathconon, in the bosom of the western mountains.” P. Urray, Ross. Statist[ical] Acc[ount], vii. 246.

“The parish of Kirkmichael is divided into 10 little districts, called Davochs.” P. Kirkmichael, Banffs. Ibid., xii. 426, 427.

According to Skene [John Skene, Regiam majestatem and quoniam attachiamenta], the Dawache included four plough-gates, which some understood as double, amounting to eight ordinary plough-gates.

Apud priscos Scotos, ane Dawach of land, quod continet quatuor aratra terrae, quorum unumquodque trahitur octo bobus : Alii quatuor aratra duplicia intelligunt, quae sunt octo simplicia : Sed servan debet usus, et consuetude locorum. In nonnullis libris hic legitur Bovata terre, contra fidem veterum codicum authenticorum. Bovata autem terrae continet 13 acras. Cujus octava pars comprenandit unan acram, dimidium acrae, et octavam partem acrae. Not. in Quon[iam] Attach[iamenta], c. 23.

He adds this measurement of the Bovata, to shew that the eighth part mentioned in the text cannot apply to the oxen-gate, as being so very small. How, indeed, could the landlord have the best aucht, or principal beast, from one who had scarcely ground for one? Sibb., however, viewing the Dawach as merely a plough-gate of thirteen acres, supposes that “eight husbandmen” were wont “to club an ox apiece to make up this formidable draught.”

From want of sufficient attention, and not having observed Skene's Note to the Lat. copy of Reg. Mag., I fell into a similar mistake, viewing the word as synon. with oxen-gate, ox-gait.

The term, it appears, was sometimes used as equivalent to barony.

Et quod in hujusmodi captionibus seu providentiis faciendis, non fiet texatio juxta numerum davatarum, seu baroniarum; sed secundum verum valorem bonorum. Stat. Dav. 2, c. 48.

“The parish of Kirkmichael,” as we learn from a passage quoted in the Dict., “is divided into 10 little districts, called Davochs.” P. Kirkmichael Banffs. Stat[istical] Acc[ount], xii. 426. Now this parish extends in length about 10 computed, or 15 English miles; and from one to three computed miles in breadth. Ibid., p. 428. This allows about a measured mile and a half square to each davoch.

“The parish of Rhynie, which is 5 English miles long, and nearly as broad, contains 8 of the 48 davachs or davochs of the lordship of Strathbogie. A davoch contains 32 oxen-gates of 13 acres each, or 416 acres of arable land.” P. Rhynie and Essie, Stat[istical] Acc[ount], xix. 290.

This exactly corresponds with Skene's lowest calculation of the dawach, as including four plough-gates (quatuor aratra), each of these containing eight oxengates, (i.e. reckoning them severally at 13 acres,) 104 acres each. According to this calculation, the eighth part of a davach, referred to in Quon. Attach., would be 52 acres.

The writer of this article gives a more full and satisfactory derivation than that which I had adopted.

In its original acceptation, it imports as much land as can be ploughed by 8 oxen.

“Several antiquaries have mistaken the etymon of Davoch; but the word is evidently derived from Daimh, oxen, and Ach, field.” Ibid.


J[ames] B. Montgomerie-Fleming.
Desultory Notes on Jamieson's Scottish Dictionary.
Glasgow and Edinburgh: William Hodge & Company, 1899.
Page 38.

DAVOCH, ii. 20, is not given. Happening to get the address of a friend as “the Groam of Annat,” I tried to find the meaning of “Groam,” which I have not yet succeeded in doing; but turning up the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland I found “Annat, a davoch in Kiltarlity Parish, Inverness-shire, on the north side of the river Beauly.” By the merest chance, however, looking into Chalmers's “Caledonia” one day for something else, I came upon the following, i. 811:—

During Celtic times the davoch was the usual division of land in proper Scotland; and, like many other Celtic terms and usages, the davoch has been retained throughout many succeeding ages. In several districts of Galloway, of Perth, Forfar, Aberdeen, Banff, Inverness, Ross, Sutherland, the davoch appears to have supplied the place of the carucate. The davoch was nearly of the same import as the carucate, and comprehended eight oxgang: the bovate or oxgang was probably a sub-division of each; it certainly was a sub-division of the davoch.

And in a sub-note Chalmers gives the following:—

Damh, which is pronounced "dav" in the Gaelic, signifies an ox; and ochd signifies eight: hence the dav-och means eight oxgang : eight oxen were formerly the usual number assigned to one plough. The large parish of Assint, in Sutherland, is divided into four davochs, and every davoch contains eight oxgates. —(Stat. Acco., xvi. 184-5.) The parish of Kirkmichael, in Banffshire, is divided into ten davochs. —(Ib., xii. 427.) The lordship of Strathbogie comprehended 48 davochs pf land ; and these were extended, beyond the original meaning, to 32 oxgates in each. —(Ib., xix. 290.) The Regiam Majestatem, indeed, extended the davoch to four ploughs, each drawn by eight oxen.

In the Historical English Dictionary [i.e., the Oxford English Dictionary], my copy of which I have just got back from "that bourne from which the traveller so tardily returns" —the bookbinder's— I find the following more distinct definition :

Davach-och. (Sc. Hist.) An ancient Scottish measure of land consisting, in the east of Scotland, of 4 ploughgates, each of 8 oxgangs ; in the west, divided into twenty penny-lands. It is said to have averaged 416 acres, but its extent probably varied with the quality of the land.

And the following, amongst other quotations, is given:—

A davoch contains 32 oxengates of 13 acres each, or 416 acres of arable land. —(Stat. Acco. Scot., xix. 290.)


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