Encyclopedia of Medieval Dress and Textiles

Get access Subject: History
Edited by: Gale Owen-Crocker, Elizabeth Coatsworth & Maria Hayward
The single volume Encyclopaedia of Medieval Dress and Textiles of the British Isles c. 450-1450 is a unique work that intends to bring together in 582 signed articles the latest research from across the range of disciplines which contribute to our knowledge of medieval dress and textiles.

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(417 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
The Middle English Dictionary gives references going back to 1303, with many variant spellings - wad-mol, wadmole, wadmal(e), wademolle, waddemole and (probable errors) wardemol, wadinol, waddewole. The term comes from Old Norse vaðmál: compare Old Icelandic vaðmal; Middle Dutch wad-mael (variation of waet-mael), Middle Low German wat-mal. In Old Norse vaðmál means 'cloth measure', and implies a measure of value that could be used in payment. Hoffmann states that were several qualities, for all of which length, breadth, thread count and weight …

Wall covering

(8 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
See soft furnishings. Elizabeth Coatsworth

Wall paintings

(632 words)

Author(s): Miriam Gill
Wall paintings were an expected element in the internal decoration of medieval buildings both sacred and secular, although the majority survive in parish churches. Church murals were nearly all covered over during the Reformation. Many were subsequently damaged or destroyed during later building alterations most significantly by overzealous 19th-century 'restorations'. 20th-century conservation treatments have also obscured the appearance of some murals. Despite this, wall paintings constitute an extensive and important visual resource for medi…

Walter, Hubert

(800 words)

Author(s): Benjamin Wild
Justiciar, archbishop of Canterbury, chancellor, crusader and papal legate, Hubert Walter was one of the most important political figures in 12th-century England. Born during the reign of King Stephen (1135-1154), Walter was raised in the household of his uncle, the Justiciar of England, Ranulf de Glanville. Although he received no education in the schools of Paris, Hubert nonetheless developed a penchant and knack for matters administrative. During the reign of Henry II, in the 1180s, Hubert served as deputy to hi…


(950 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
It was excavated between 1986 and 1992, the excavations uncovering some 20% of the Viking Age city. It is as important as Dublin in the picture it presents of the Viking Age in Ireland, which lasted until the Norman invasion of 1170, but evidence from the 13th and 14th centuries (including one fine linen in many folds because found in a roll) and the post-medieval development of the city was also discovered. It is particularly important for discoveries of textile remains of the period, published in two reports by Elizabeth Wincott Heckett. Ev…

Weapons as items of dress

(1,161 words)

Author(s): Esther Cameron
Swords from 5th- and 6th-century burials in England often have evidence of scabbard remains of leather and wood on the blades. The wood used was most commonly willow laths which were lined on the inside with lambskin and covered on the outside with a hairless skin to hold the scabbard together. This outer skin was sometime decorated with simple linear designs in low relief. At its upper end, or mouth, the scabbard was straight and sometimes decorated with a metal band of either silver gilt or copper…


(26 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
Those whose occupation was the weaving of cloth. See guilds: London; guilds: provincial towns; laws and prohibitions: cloth regulations; looms; weaving (weaves). Elizabeth Coatsworth

Weaving batten

(17 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
Also known as a weaving sword, weaving beater, knife beater. See tools. Elizabeth Coatsworth

Weaving (weaves)

(1,661 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
Weave may or may not be easily visible on textile, depending on the type of patterning or finishing processes used. The basic requirements are (1) the warp, the fixed element and also the longitudinal element in a length of fabric, the individual threads of which have to be tensioned in some way so that other threads can be woven through them (for example, in a warp-weighted loom , by the use of loomweights tied to the warp threads which have been suspended from the warp-beam at the top). An individual warp is called an end; (2) the weft, the transverse elements in a textile, usually parall…

Weights and measures

(25 words)

Author(s): Gale R. Owen-Crocker
See bolt; cloth: dimensions and weights; clove; ell; last; nail; piece; sack; sarpler; stone; tod; verge; wey; yard. Gale R. Owen-Crocker

Welsh begging poems

(1,177 words)

Author(s): Alaw Mai Jones
The begging poem is one of the main genres of the Welsh bardic tradition. It became popular in the 15th century and the later medieval period in the form of the cywydd (a poem in strict meter). A begging poem was composed directly to ask or to beg a nobleman for an object (e.g. clothing, arms and armour, furniture and horses) and the gift was a 'reward' for the poet's praise (see patrons and patronage). Various garments were especially popular, simply because they were an essential of a poet's life while travelling from one h…

Westminster Abbey

(3,240 words)

Author(s): Gale R. Owen-Crocker
An inventory of the sumptuous medieval treasures of Westminster Abbey, one of the most famous religious establishments in England, was taken in 1388. The church of St Peter, better known as Westminster Abbey, was originally built under the patronage of King Edward ‘the Confessor’ on Thorney Island in the river Thames in London, developing from a tenth-century Benedictine foundation. Known as the ‘west minster’ to distinguish it from St Paul’s, ‘the east minster’, the new building was inaugurated in December 1065. King…


(189 words)

Author(s): Elizabeth Coatsworth
A measure of capacity and a weight for dry products, a wey was a standard measure (of cheese, coal, salt, etc.); the Middle English Dictionary notes the phrase 'the wey', meaning per unit. More doubtfully it might have been a unit of weight equal to a pound -- MED gives only one example of its use as a synonym for pound, and is clearly doubtful. The original Latin term pondus (weight) was replaced in the 13th century by its Middle English translation, weye (but see cloth: dimensions and weights for a pre-Conquest use). Its size varied by product and region. Zupko gave its usu…