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Published: 23 February 2019

By Andy Ross

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A strange link between Shetland and Wales

In the tweed research project many interesting and unusual links are cropping up.

The research is fascinating. It is taking me through politics, manufacturing, geography, gender, identity and much besides. One especially interesting aspect is the making of Wadmal, a cloth which was used in place of coin from the Viking expansion into Shetland, circa 800 AD onwards. This cloth has a very unusual and marked place in the history of Shetland, but also Iceland, Denmark, Norway... This week though that link could possibly have extended to Wales.

A small book, The Flannel Makers, a gift from a dear friend who Knows-Who-She-is, sets out a "Brief history of the Welsh Woollen Industry" and there, in black and white in a section on the "Products of the Industry", Wadmoll! By the stage that this book is concentrating on, 1540 on, the cloth was used for covering horse collars and saddles, and was rough and undressed fabric. Is it possible that WelshWadmoll has its roots in the same cloth that we made in Shetland? A clearer picture of Viking and Norse influence is emerging all the time in this research, to which I shall add this item. An unusual and useful nugget of information to follow up on as I learn more about the history of woven cloth in the British Isles.