“Whin”

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Abstract

CAN you or any of your readers furnish a probable etymology of the word whin? Over all the north of England and south of Scoland basalt is so called. Here we have the whin-sill or stratiform basalt—whin-dykes, or geological fissures filled with basalt. The vocabularies in treatises on geology give no derivation of this prevalent mining term. In Scotland whin seems to typify the hardest mineral known. Burns makes Death say in “Hornbuik,” “I micht as weel hae tried a quarry o' hard whin rock.” Surely a satisfactory root for the word in question can be found in Celtic, Old Norse, Danish, or Anglo-Saxon! The Old Norse “fors” is found in the names of several local waterfalls, as for instance “High Force” in Teesdale. At this “force” the river Tees is precipitated over a whin-stone cliff, 80ft. high.

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