See also bole, bol

In Scotland, 14th – 19th centuries, a unit of capacity, = 64 pecks.  chart symbol  The Assize of 1618 created two distinct bolls, one for wheat, pease, beans, rye and white salt, and a larger one for barley, oats and malt. 

In the British colonies it was sometimes spelled bole. Lederer says that in the colonies the boll was 4 (Winchester) bushels of wheat or beans, or 6 bushels of oats or potatoes.

Like other Scottish measures, the boll was abolished in the Act of Union, 1707. In fact, however, it continued in use until the establishment of imperial measure. The equivalents given in 18th and 19th century international traders' handbooks are remarkably uniform, (all have been converted to liters):

wheat, pease, beans, rye,
grass seed and white salt
145.2 144.03 144.03 144.02
oats, barley, and malt 211.6 210.11 210.11 210.10

Like many large units of dry capacity in an era of increasingly available scales, in the end the boll showed a tendency to become a unit of mass. In the late 19th century, Nelkenbrecher noted (page 389) that in Edinburgh the boll of potatoes was 5 hundredweights (560 pounds).

Local values

Many local values of the boll existed. Ultimately these were fixed by the verdicts of juries in each county per Act 5th George IV. c. 74 §18. The values below are from the early 19th century, after that survey.

County City Commodity Capacity¹
cubic inches
Aberdeen wheat, rye, meal, peas, beans, seeds 10754
oats, barley, malt 14068
Argyle wheat, rye, peas, beans 10218
oats, barley, malt 13753
Ayr wheat, rye, peas, beans 8600.68
oats, barley, malt 9954
Banff wheat, peas, beans, white salt 9265
oats, barley, malt 13476
Berwick all kinds of grain 12900.52
Bute and Arran wheat, peas, beans 11512
oats, barley, malt 17268
imported grain standard
Clackmannan wheat, rye, peas, beans 9513
oats, barley, malt 13753
Dumbarton wheat, meal, peas, beans 10251
oats, barley, malt 13668
Dumfries Winchester bushel used for all types of grain 2150.42
Edinburgh wheat, rye, peas, beans, white salt 8789.332
oats, barley, malt 12822.126
Elgin and Forres wheat, rye, peas, beans 9384
barley 13496
oats 16870
Fife wheat, peas, beans 9100
oats, barley, malt 13236
Forfar   wheat, peas, beans 9100
  oats, barley, malt 12926
Brechin & Dundee wheat 8893
Arbroath wheat 9384
Brechin & Montrose barley 13442
Dundee oats, barley, malt 13029
Forfar oats, barley, malt 13236
Haddington "The measures in this county, though meant to be standard
 [i.e. as at Edinburgh], are actually about 3% larger."
Inverness wheat, peas, beans, rye 10060
barley, malt 14077
oats, barley for export
(only 4 firlots to the boll)
Kincardine wheat, peas, rye 9927
barley, oats 13650
Kinross wheat, peas, beans 9022
oats, barley, malt 13210
Kirkcudbright   wheat, rye, peas, beans 23654
Lanark   wheat 9257
  peas, beans 13085
  barley, oats 13358
Lanark wheat, peas, beans 8789.332
oats, barley 13236
Linlithgow As in Edinburghshire for all goods
Nairn barley 14295
oats 17868
wheat, rye, peas, beans, oat meal, barley meal 10721
Peebles wheat, rye, peas, beans 9418
oats, barley, malt 13394
Perth wheat, rye, peas, beans 9052
oats, barley, malt 13356
Renfrew peas, beans 9617
oats, barley 13623
"At Greenock and Port-Glasgow all kinds of grain
 are exported by the Winchester bushel."
Ross and
wheat, rye, peas, beans 8789.332
oats, barley, malt 13236
Roxburgh &
  wheat, peas, beans 9200
barley, malt 13650
Kelso wheat, peas, beans
(= 6 Winchester bushels)
oats, barley
(= 7½ Winchester bushels)
Selkirk wheat, rye, peas, beans 9225
oats, barley, malt 12925
Stirling wheat, rye, peas, beans 9513
oats, barley, malt 13753
Sutherland   wheat, rye, peas, beans 10340
  oats, barley, malt 14077
Dornock oats, barley, malt 14187
Wigton wheat, peas, beans 17203.36
oats, barley, malt 24605.04

1. David Brewster, editor.
The Edinburgh Encyclopædia.
Edinburgh: William Blackwood, John Waugh, and others, 1830.

Volume 13, page 493. A misplaced decimal point in the value for Edinburgh has been corrected.


For other lists of local values of the boll, see

Alexander Huntar.
A Treatise of weights, mets and measures of Scotland…
Edinburgh: Printed by John Wreittoun, 1624.

John, Lord Swinton.
A proposal for uniformity of weights and measures in Scotland, by execution of the laws now in force.
Edinburgh: printed for Charles Elliot, 1779.

James Britten.
Old Country and Farming Words.
English Dialect Society, number 30.
London: Trübner and Co., 1880.



Of the boll

Item the boll sall contene a sexterne viz xii gallonis of aile and it sould haue in deipnes ix inches and in wydenes abone xxiiij inches by the thickness of the trie and in the roundnes and circumference abone lxxij  and in the roundnes at the boddom lxxi inches-

Item. The boll shall contain a sexterne, viz, 12 ale gallons, and it should have in depth 9 inches and in width 24 inches including the thickness of the wood. The circumference above is 72 inches and at the bottom 71 inches

From the Assize of David I, attributed to the 12th century.
Thomas Thomson and Cosmo Innes, editors.
The Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland. Volume 1.
Edinburgh: 1814-1875.

Calculation of the volume of the frustrum of a cone with a depth of 9 inches and circumferences of 71 and 72 inches gives a volume of 14,645.75 cubic inches.


Item thai ordanit the bol to met with all vitall to be devidit in foure partis viz four furlatis to contene a bol ande that furlate nowother to be maid eftir the frist mesoure than vsit bott in a medful mesoure betuix the twa

Item. the mesoure of the furlote is this It sal contene in breid evin ourethort xvi inche vnder & abone within the burdis & in depnes vi inche the thicknes of bath the burdis sal contene ane inche and a half the half furlote & the pek thare eftir folowande &c

Item the bol sal contene in breid xxix inche within the burdis & abufe xxviii inch & a half evin ourethort ande in depnes ix inche the furlote sal contene twa galonis ande a pynte ande ilke pynt sal contene be wecht of cleir watter of Tay xli vnce that is for to say ii pundis & ix vnce troyis swa weyis the galone xx punde & viii vnche swa weyis the furlote xli pundis. Ande the bol contenande four furlotis weyis viiixx & iiii pundis the old bol frist maide be king Dauid contenit a sextarn the saxtarn contenit xii galonis of the auld mete ande ilk galone weyit ten pundis trois & foure vnce of diuerse vatteris swa weyit ye bol vixx iii pundis sua this new bol new maid weyis mar than the auld boll be xli lib quhilkis makis twa galounis & a half & a chopyn of the auld mete ande of the new mete new ordanit ix pyntis & thre muchekynis.

 Item. They ordained the boll to measure all victuals to be divided into four parts, viz., four firlots in a bol, and that firlot neither to be made after the first measure nor that now used, but in a middle measure between the two.

Item. The firlot measure is this: It shall contain within the sides 16 inches under and above, and in depth 6 inches. The thickness of both the sides shall contain an inch and a half. The half-firlot and the peck thereafter following, etc.

Item. The boll shall contain in breadth 29 inches within the sides and and above 28½ inches and in depth 9 inches. The firlot shall contain two gallons and a pint, and such pints contain by weight of clear water of [the river] Tay 41 ounces, that is to say, two pounds 9 ounces troy weight. So the gallon weighs 20 pounds, 8 ounces. So the firlot weighs 41 pounds. And the boll containing 4 firlots weighs 164 pounds. The old boll first made by King David contained a sextern. The sextern contained 12 gallons of the old measure and each gallon weighed 10 pounds troy and 4 ounces of diverse waters, so the boll weighed 123 pounds. So this new boll, new made, weighs more than the old boll by 41 pounds, which makes two gallons and a half and a chopin of the old measure and of the new measure, newly ordained, 9 pints and 3 mutchkins.

From the Assize of James 1, 11 March 1426
William Robertson.
Records of the Parliament of Scotland 1240-1573.
Edinburgh: 1804.


And that four fulles of either of the foresaid Firlots conteine and bee repute to bee ane just BOLL in all tyme comming allenerlie.

From the Assize of 1618
Act of James VI, 19 February 1618
Thomas Thomson and Cosmo Innes, editors.
The Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland. Volume IV.
Edinburgh: 1814-1875


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