I have been reading Scott's Waverley, or 'tis Sixty Years Since, and in that book, a lawyer is describing an estate surrounding a manor house. That estate is said to include...

the fortalice and manor-place thereof ..., tofts, crofts, mosses, muirs—outfield, infield—buildings—orchards—dovecots—with the right of net and coble in the water and loch of Veolan—teinds, parsonage and vicarage—annexis, connexis—rights of pasturage—fuel, feal, and divot—parts, pendicles, and pertinents whatsoever

I have run down the meaning of most of this, but I am stumped by feal. The Online Dictionary defines feal here to be an archaic word for "faithful", but that doesn't seem to me to be terribly relevant. Does anyone know what feal is in this context?

3 Answers 3


Looks like it's a set phrase, "feal and divot":

FEAL and DIVOT: turf and thatch.

from Humanities Web

  • Huh. I learn something new every day. May 2, 2011 at 17:50
  • Good catch. May 2, 2011 at 17:54

A feal is a sod of earth or peat used, in blocks, to build a wall. 'Fuel feal and divot' is a servitude right to use another's land for peat to burn, feal to build walls and divots to cover roofs.

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    Dec 15, 2022 at 2:54

The unabridged Oxford English Dictionary (1971) offers a discussion of feal and divot within its entry for divot:

Divot, sb. Sc. and north. dial. ... c. Sc Law. Fail (feal) and divot, 'a rural servitude, importing a right in the proprietor of the dominant tenement to cut and remove turf for fences or for thatching or covering houses or the like purposes, within the dominant lands' (Bell Dict. Law Scot.). [Citations from 1593, 1693, 1754, 1773, 1814 (the Scott quotation) omitted.]

According to Chambers Scots Dictionary(1911), the component nouns of "feal and divot" have the following everyday (nonlegal) meanings in Scots:

Divot, n. a thin, flat piece of sod, used as thatch ; a lump ; a clumsy, irregular mass of anything ; a short, thick, stout person ; a sod used for fuel ; a broad, flat necktie.


Feal, n. turf. Cf. Fail [defined as "a sward ; a flat sod of turf ; turf.

And Black's Law Dictionary, fourth edition (1968) has this for the legal term:

FEAL AND DIVOT. A right in Scotland, similar to the right of turbary ["the right or liberty of digging turf upon another man's ground"] in England, for fuel, etc.

In assessing the contours of this right, John Erskine, An Institute of the Law of Scotland, volume 1 (1824) comments as follows:

Two predial servitudes are received by the usage of Scotland, to which there was nothing similar in Roman law ; feal and divot, and thirlage. The servitude of feal and divot is the right one has of turning up feals or divots from the surface of the servient tenement, and carrying them off. for thatch to his house, or for other uses of the dominant tenement. Much like this is the servitude of fuel, which is a right of raising turf or peats from the servient moss or peat land, for fuel to the inhabitants of the dominant tenement. Both of these servitudes imply a right to use the nearest grounds of the servient tenement, on which to lay and dry the turf, peats or feal ; and to a way or passage by which they may be carried off to the dominant. Though it be affirmed by writers [citation omitted] that all the lesser servitudes of fuel, feal, and divot, are included under the greater one of common pasturage, those servitudes are nevertheless quite distinct: For it is not in every case that the greater or heavier servitude comprehends the lesser ; it is only where the greater is of the same kind with the lesser, so that one cannot be figured to subsist without the other. But though one should grant to his neighbour a right of pasturing cattle upon his common, he is not for that reason understood to have also given him the right of breaking up the servient tenement for fuel to his fire, or for a cover to his house ; and there are many instances of grants of pasturage with an express seclusion of the lesser servitudes.

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