>My Five-Penny Worth

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On April 14th 1884 the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland included a contribution called ‘What is a Pennyland? Or Ancient Valuation of Land in the Scottish Isles’
by Captain FWL Thomas RN, FSA Scot.
The first part of his conclusion reads:
‘At a very early period, probably from the time of the invasion of Harold Fairhair, the arable lands of the uthalmen…were for the support of the Earl’s government, assessed for skatt or tax.
The divisions of the arable lands of the former Celtic inhabitants, each called a dabach, were assessed to pay a Norwegian ounce of silver; from which circumstance each division so paying was called an Ounceland.
Each ounceland was, for the purpose of assessment, divided into eighteen parts, each paying 1/18th of an ounce of Norwegian silver, which was equal in weight to one English penny, from which each subdivision was called a Pennyland.
Neither ounce nor penny land was a measure of surface, but of produce.’
Which is how the townships of Fivepenny in Ness and Fivepenny Borve in Barvas came to be so-called.
Today, ‘Fivepenny Park’ ‘Fivepenny Park’ is the home of Ness Football Club, but whether their current collection of silverware would be sufficient to pay the tax or not, I couldn’t possibly say!
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2 thoughts on “>My Five-Penny Worth

  1. Thanks, Christine. The author of the piece, Captain FWL Thomas, was a remarkable person as was his wife, Frances Sarah Bousfield. I have several entries in this blog about them!

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