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East Lothian Banknote

Old Scottish money: research guide 7

East Lothian bank note (£5)Download a pdf of this guide.

Scottish money was abolished as a circulating currency at the Act of Union in 1707. However, the valued rent of land and, in many places, feu duties and ministers’ stipends, schoolmasters’ salaries, and other parochial payments were still reckoned by the pound Scots and the merk, or mark, for some considerable time after the union. However, payment was made in English pounds sterling.

Both the English and the Scottish pound were made up of 20 shillings, each of 12 pence. Thus there were 240 pence in a pound. But there were 12 Scots pounds to the English pound. The merk was two thirds of a Scottish pound, or 13 shillings and 4 pence. Information below sourced from

Scottish value Scottish name and value Sterling value
1 penny 1 penny or doyt one twelfth of a penny
2 pennies 1 bodle one sixth of a penny
2 bodles 1 plack or groat one third of a penny
3 placks 1 bawbee * half a penny
12 pennies 1 shilling 1 penny
20 shillings 1 pound 20 pence
13 shillings and 4 pennies 1 merk or mark 13 pence
18 merks or marks 12 pounds Scots £1

* The bawbee was originally a copper coin worth ha’penny (half a penny); in Mary Queen of Scots’ time it was worth 3 pence Scots money, and later raised to 6 pence.

Explanation of currency abbreviations

Latin names were used for the abbreviated money forms, so where 2d meaning two pence, the ‘d’ abbreviation derives from ‘denarius’:

English Latin Currency abbreviation
Pounds Librum L
Shillings solidus s
Pence denarius d

4 thoughts on “Old Scottish money: research guide 7”

  1. Archie Milne says:

    It is said that Robert the Bruce gave 100 merks in approx. 1328 for the bilding of the square tower at Brechin Cathedral.
    How much would that equate to in todays currency?
    Hope you can help

    1. HanitaR says:

      Thank you for your enquiry, Mr Milne. We cannot provide you with an exact amount. Originally, I merk was valued at roughly 13 shillings and 4 pence. A historical currency converter at the National Archives has helped to calculate 100 merks at roughly somewhere between 40 to 50 thousand pound sterling.

  2. iain says:

    comprehensive monetary terminology yes, well done; but what is the value of a tosser? I can only find the more modern meaning.
    When I was young when something was of little value the term used was

    ” Not worth a tosser”

    I presume it has no connection to a tocher, a dowry, but I cannot find any more.

    1. Jane Hanley says:

      Surely it’s ‘not worth a toss’, as in tossing a coin

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