Skeet or Shat?

18th August 2014 — 17 Comments

Most seasoned UK detectorists know that Sceattas [singular ‘sceat’] were small, thick silver coins minted in England the 7th and 8th centuries. Here’s a typical example – for the purposes of this short blog post it’s enough to say that Eadberht who died in 768, was king of Northumbria from 737 or 738 to 758. If you wish to see detailed information on sceattas, please click HERE.

Eadberht of Northumbria

Eadberht of Northumbria – Courtesy of PAS – CC BY-SA licence

Although they may recognise the coin, many detectorists seem to be unaware of the correct pronunciation. The version I hear most of all is SKEET, which seems reasonable enough and it doesn’t annoy me. I am relieved – forgive the pun – to be excused the other pronunciation of SHAT.

miug

I Love You Treasure – Courtesy spreadshirt.de

I suspect that only snobs and archaeologists use the ‘shat’ version. Perhaps they don’t want to be seen as coarse as the treasure hunter Bazza Thugwit, beloved creation of a foreign based blogger. To hear the correct pronunciation, just click on the word > SCEAT or SCEATTA 

It’s interesting to know that the name SCEAT derives from an old English word meaning ‘wealth’, a word with the same linguistic derivation as the German SCHATZ, which can be translated as ‘treasure’.  In Germany sweethearts are referred to as ‘SCHATZI’, a lovely term of endearment.

I don’t want you to think of me as an old bore, but before I leave, just a word of warning – refrain from checking the word SKEET on the Web, especially the Urban Dictionary. You could be in for a shock … I was!

Without exception ALL my readers now hotfoot it over to the WWW and check it out for themselves! Now tell me that I’m wrong!

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OTHER MEANINGS

SKEET shooting also refers to a sport in which a clay target is thrown from a trap to simulate the flight of a bird. One definition I cannot find anywhere refers to the wooden guides that kept the cage on track when miners were descending a shaft. It was a word that I often used in my formative years. 

Bowburn Local History Society of County Durham mentions a memorial made from a skeet and dedicated to the honour and memory of all those who died in the quest for coal.

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Muddy Fingers says:

Everybody in the numismatic world always pronounced the word sceat as “skeet” years ago (Plural “skeets”). My understanding of the situation was that some noted archaeologist in the academic world decided that the name of such coins should be pronounced as “shattas” after the German word for treasure, “Schatz”.

Not wishing to offend, and in order to flatter him, other lesser scholars also used the pronunciation “shattas”. Perhaps an element of snobbery was present here as the lesser scholars sought to demonstrate to others that they only moved in the highest of academic circles. The latest word on the subject is that the pronunciation used in the academic world has returned to “skeets,”  it being accepted that the English Saxons themselves would have said “skat” or “skeet”.   

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In memory of the late Jim Patterson – aka Old Yellowbelly

John

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17 responses to Skeet or Shat?

  1. Yes, its true. Words can get you in trouble even if you don’t mean what the other person in the conversation hears. Thanks for the information. Never heard of these but am always glad to learn.

  2. Thanks for the response, Marty.
    They are not something that would be familiar to the average Canadian detectorist.

  3. well I never, thanks for that John.

  4. Personally I don’t give a skeet how it is pronounced. Just let me find some.

  5. Strange really, being an Essex boy, I have always referred to these as “SAY ATS”, having heard them being called that in my learning days, which of course will always be on going.

    Must admit, I nearly s–t myself after seeing the skeeters..

  6. Like many I read this word long before I heard it spoken and my assumption was that it should be pronounced SKI-AT or SKI-ATTA. I think the ‘SHAT’ pronunciation is a bit, well……’shite’!

  7. Great story as usual John, and yes I did go straight to the urban dictionary so I learned two things today 😉

  8. I call them Sceats or I would if I could find some. lol

  9. Interesting post as always John.
    Round these parts, skeet, and a similar word, skat, is something you hope you don’t step in while searching.

  10. Very interesting read john hope all is ok .

  11. Try living with the name. No-one knows how to pronounce it when they see it written down, and no-one knows how to spell it when you say it for them.

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