There are records of whale oil being used to proof cloth but I don't know how wide spread it was. I could imagine that it was a technique more common/restricted to the west coast and islands.

Quote Originally Posted by Mark E. View Post
On the note of waterproofing-I have heard this spoken of before, in trek circles-as much for kilt as other woven wool pieces. I wear wool jackets and suits/pants, and it is the tightness of the weave that makes them water-resistant, followed by a chemical treatment. How was it done back then? Waxing (as with canvas) would have made things heavy and likely stiff, while smoking (according to popular belief in living history groups, smoking tent canvas makes it more water proof) would be nearly impossible, given the main fire fuel of the era was peat...Could it possibly have been a lanolin treatment from raw sheepskin? My kilt is 8 yards long and 22 ounces...that's a lot of rubbing...Also, a principle function of wool is that it is denser and more insulate when it is wet-one big reason base layers in extreme climates are constructed of the material. Granted, kilts weren't a snug garmet, but could have had a value as far as insulation went, since it can be very cold, and still rain.

I have taken to wearing a greatcloak of waxed cotton-much more maintainable, and lighter.