From Transblawg I learn of the word udal; in the OED’s words, udal land or lands are “land(s) in Orkney or Shetland held by the old native form of freehold tenure.” The word is the “Orkney and Shetland form of Norw. odal, odel, ONor. óthal odal,” and odal is defined as “Land held in absolute ownership without service or acknowledgement of any superior, as among the early Teutonic peoples; esp. such an estate among the Scandinavian peoples, or in Orkney and Shetland (where the usual form of the word is udal, q.v.)”—it’s related to German edel ‘noble.’ Some islanders are highly upset about the usurpation of udal law by Scottish feudal law, and you can read all about it at their website; me, I just like the word. It’s so much handier than allodial.


  1. The accursed feudal innovations must go.

  2. Hmmm… I’m tired this morning and my mind is wandering but I wonder very much if libertarian activist Jim Davidson didn’t have this word in mind when he began his Awdal Roads Company project (www.awdal.com). Cool coincidence if not. I’ll have to mention it to him.

  3. Awdal is a place: see http://awdal.com/faq.html.

  4. wendy wickwire says

    I am reading the letter of James Teit (1864-1922) who was a Shetlander who emigrated to Canada in 1884. He says is is Secretary of the Udal League of B.C. Do you know anything about this?

  5. Not a thing, sorry. I just like the word.

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