Plaiden Ell

Contributed by Historylinks Museum

The Ell was an ancient measure of length mostly used for measuring cloth. It came from the latin for arm 'ulnia' and was assumed to be the average length of a person's arm. There are Flemish, Polish, Danish, English and Scottish Ells and they were all of different sizes. The Scottish Ell was standardized in 1661 to 37 inches (the English Ell was 45 inches but was never standardized). In 1824 English measurements were imposed in Scotland and the Ell fell into disuse. Here in Dornoch is one of the very few Ells to survive as currently only 2 others are known - at Dunkeld and Fettercairn.
The Ell at Dornoch is named the Plaiden (cloth) Ell and is situated in Dornoch Cathedral graveyard where in the Medieval period several fairs were held each year. This stone is marked with two metal points which measure 39 inches so possibly the stone may pre-date standardization.

Comments are closed for this object

Most of the content on A History of the World is created by the contributors, who are the museums and members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the BBC or the British Museum. The BBC is not responsible for the content of any external sites referenced. In the event that you consider anything on this page to be in breach of the site’s House Rules please Flag This Object.

About this object

Click a button to explore other objects in the timeline




View more objects from people in Highlandsand Islands.

Find out more

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.