I was doing some reading on Hemp seeds and came across this interesting article.

Around the year 1000 we may assume that hemp was grown several places in Norway, but at all times the importation has been greater than local production. At the end of medieval times hempen textiles were common. "Hamp" and "harp" are common elements of place names in several parts of the country and also occurs in Norwegian forms of speech like "inn i hampen" ("in the hemp field", meaning "beyond credibility"). From the thirteenth century the king had taxed hemp growers, and from the sixteenth century we have records of state income from hemp growing in Vestfold.


In Norway, hemp fibre has mainly been the raw material for ropes and rough textiles. If hemp might have supplied textiles as fine as flax, it has, at least with fibres grown in Norway, required more work. Flax has usually been finer than hemp, but Italian hemp varieties could provide a quality comparable to linen textiles. As recently as in 1977, Olav Skarsvaag, a fisherman from the island of Frøya, recalled his family tradition:

Until the end of the last century lines and nets were made from hemp. Cotton came into use around the turn of the century. I guess the cotton was not asstrong as the hemp, but it was a little cheaper. ... The hemp mostly came from Russia and Italy, and I believe the Italian was considered finer and smoother than the Russian. Until around 1880 it was usual to spin hemp-yarn in the household.

In "The King's Mirror", an instruction book from the thirteenth century, written for an unknown noble youth, the young man is advised to cover his shirt with a (woolen) cloak before approaching the king, since "no man can make himself attractive in linen or hemp". (Hellevik 1965) It would seem that hemp was regularly used closest to the body, as underwear. However hemp has also been used for finer textiles, and occasionally even for decorative weavings. Examples of these may be seen at the Nordenfjeldske Kunstindustrimuseum in Trondheim

In more recent times, most Norwegian farms of any size have had their own hempfield, often in the vicinity of the dung cellar. There are reports of hemp cultivation as far north as Velfjord in the county of Nordland. In the central parts of southern Norway hemp was used as a textile fibre, but along the coast, the hempen fibres were utilised for all manner of lines, ropes, nets etc. in the boats and ships. It seems the more beneficent climate in the inland valleys was better suited for hemp cultivation than the stormy coastal districts, and therefore more hemp was grown inland than along the coast were the biggest demand was.

There are also a few reports that hemp has been utilized in popular medicine, against snakebite, mostly, but also for "heatedness of heart" and for eye problems.

In a Norwegian dictionary from the late nineteenth century we learn that hampebraak or hampedengje signifies a "noisy or slothful woman". Of talkative people it might be said that "the mouth went like a hampeklove." These words refer to well known tools from the various stages in the preparation of hemp fibres. Much has been the same as for the preparation of flax fibres, but the hemp tools were rougher than the corresponding tools for flax.

Traditionally the male plants have been harvested first, the females a little later. The plants were pulled up with the roots and dried in bundles. The seeds could then be shaken off before the plants were soaked in water for retting. When the soft parts of the plant have been dissolved, the stalks are dried once more and pulled bit by bit through the hampebraak. This has a "mouth" that breaks the stalks, and makes it possible to remove the fibres from the wooden parts. This is heavy work that was usually done by the menfolk.

The next step is pulling the fibres through the hackle, a kind of comb that separates the fibres. This was considered lighter work and was done by the women. The hackled fibres could be spun and then woven, or used for making cordage.

Those who bought imported fibres in "dolls", bundles of fibres weighing 6-9 kg., avoided much of this preparatory work. The hempdolls were used for ropemaking and other purposes on the farms in wintertime, as reported by Mr. Skarsvaag.
The whole article can be found here http://vindheim.net/hamp/hemp.html