The Orkney Bailies and their Wattel

J Clouston (Author)

Silver Foil
1494, Norse


It has previously been considered that the tax called the " Wattel formed (in the case of Orkney) a payment to the parish bailies, or (in the case of Shetland) to the corresponding underfouds. The word probably derives from veizla ( = veitsla), the\r\nreception or entertainment which the Norse kings, or their barons and stewards, were entitled by law to exact from the landowners of the different districts visited. In Orkney the earl would, of course, take the place of the king, and that this obligation should then crystallise into a tax, and its name be corrupted from "veitsla" into "wattel," seem very natural developments. The earliest documentary evidence is contained in the grants of the island of Burray to the Bishop of Orkney in 1494, and of the lordships of Orkney and Shetland to Lord Sinclair in 1501, and in Lord Sinclair's rentals of 1492 and 1502-03.


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How to Cite
Clouston, J. (1921). The Orkney Bailies and their Wattel. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 55, 265-272. Retrieved from