Length and Distance ConversionsWiki How

How Many Alen in a Ell?

Delve into the history of the ell, a traditional unit of length once widely used across Europe, including in England, Scotland, and Germany. Discover its significance, measurements, and how it relates to the Scandinavian alen.

Understanding the Ell

  • Definition: The ell was a historical unit of length utilized for measuring various quantities such as fabric length, people’s heights, and water depths.
  • Measurement: The ell was approximately equal to 45 inches or 114.3 centimeters.
  • Conversion: There are 1.5 Scandinavian alens in an ell, equivalent to approximately 0.6864 Scandinavian alen per ell.

Historical Significance

  • Roman Origins: The ell traces its origins back to the Roman Empire, where it was initially used.
  • Centuries in Use: The ell continued to be widely employed until the 19th century, after which it began to be supplanted by the metric system in the 20th century.

Modern Interpretation

  • Cultural Heritage: While no longer in common use, the ell remains a part of Europe’s cultural and historical heritage.
  • Historical Records: Researchers and historians may encounter the ell when interpreting historical records or dealing with heritage-related projects, requiring conversions to more modern units.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Which countries historically used the ell as a unit of measurement?

The ell was employed in various parts of Europe, including England, Scotland, Germany, and other regions.

What are some contemporary contexts where the ell might still be encountered?

The ell is often found in historical records, architecture, and heritage preservation projects.

Is there a standard conversion factor for the ell to modern units like centimeters or inches?

Yes, the ell is approximately equal to 114.3 centimeters or 45 inches.

When did the ell’s use decline, and what led to its replacement?

The decline of the ell began in the 19th century, and it was eventually replaced by the metric system in the 20th century.


The ell, with its rich historical legacy dating back to the Roman Empire, offers a fascinating window into Europe’s past measurement practices. While it has been succeeded by the metric system, the ell still plays a role in cultural heritage and historical research. Understanding conversions from the ell to contemporary units is essential for interpreting historical documents and preserving heritage sites.

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