Foto: Claire Eamer for Hakai Magazine

No wool, No Vikings

Foto: Claire Eamer for Hakai Magazine

Utdrag fra artikkel i Hakai Magazine, publisert 23. februar 2016. Nydelig fortelling om ullas røtter og betydning i norsk historie:

“In 1989, workers repairing the roof of a medieval church in Trondenes in northern Norway found pieces of 600-year-old woolen sailcloth stuffed into the attic. While it dates from about three centuries after the height of the Vikings’ dominance, it belongs to the same sailing tradition. Chemists, historians, textile experts, and archaeologists have pored over the chunk of fabric. They learned it was a variation of wadmal, the basic woolen cloth woven for everyday use throughout the North Atlantic region, from Viking days right through the Middle Ages. The wool itself came from northern European short-tailed sheep—the kind the Vikings kept. Jørgensen says their unusual coat was a key element in making woolen sails.

The sheep are double-coated, with an outer coat of long, strong guard hairs and a soft, warm inner coat. Both kinds of fiber showed up in the old sail. To create a strong fabric, the weaver used the coarse outer hairs in the sail’s warp (vertical fibers on a traditional warp-weighted loom). The weft (horizontal fibers) came from the soft inner coat that fluffs out a bit, filling the gaps in the weave. The finished material was “fulled”—that is, treated to shrink it slightly and tighten the fabric.

But that wasn’t the whole secret of a windproof woolen sail. Analysis showed that the sail fragment was soaked with resinous material. After centuries crammed between the joists of the old church, it was almost as stiff as the boards that protected it. That goopy stuff proved to be crucial to making a functional woolen sail.”

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