Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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WADMAL, n. Also -mall, -maal, -mel(l), -male, -mail, -meal, -mi(e)l; wodmell, -meal, woodmail, -mill; and hist. forms vadmal, -mel, -mell (Ork. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XIV. 326), vademel (Sh. 1879 G. Low Tour 143). A kind of coarse woollen homespun cloth woven in Shetland and Orkney, and formerly used as part-payment of Skatt. Now only hist. [′wɑdməl] Sh. 1733 T. Gifford Hist. Descr. (1879) 54:
The scat yearly payable thereout in butter, fish, oil, and a sort of very coarse cloth called wadmill.
Sh. c.1772 A. C. O'Dell Hist. Geog. Sh. 241:
This Woodmill, at what time is not certain, was converted and reduced to a money payment at the rate of 4/- Scots for one Cuttle or 24/- for one guilding.
Ork. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XIV. 326:
The old men and women still continue to wear good strong black clothes without dying, called by the ancient Norse, vadmell.
Sc. 1822 Scott Pirate v.:
Her upper garment, which dropped with water, was of a coarse dark-coloured stuff, called wadmaal.
Sh. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XII. 143:
A merk of land was originally of definite though not of uniform extent; the superficial measure being regulated in each case by the quality of the soil. It contained as much land as was estimated to be worth a mark of Wadmail.
Sh. 1871 R. Cowie Shetland 164:
The native dyes are said to have been extensively used in colouring wadmel.
Sh. 1899 J. Spence Folk-Lore 195:
The women were occupied carding and spinning wool, although the manufacture of wadmil had long ceased.
Sh. 1918 T. Manson Peat Comm. 148:
Fower men guid ta da woman's hoose wi a lent o wadmil, an pat her up on da aeshins.

[O.Sc. vedmell, id., 1506, Norw. vadmål, O.N. vaðmál, from vað, cloth, + mál, measure.]

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"Wadmal n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jul 2020 <>



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