The Roots of Papermaking

Paper-making was invented in China at the beginning of the second century AD (examples survive from between 150 and 200) and slowly spread westwards through Kashmir and Persia reaching the Arab states of North Africa by the eleventh century. From there the Arabs introduced it to Spain where a paper mill was operating in Toledo in 1085. The craft had reached France by 1190 and Italy by 1276. The first recorded papermill in Scotland was in 1590 at Dalry on the Water of Leith.

Paper is distinguished from other writing materials, such as papyrus or parchment, by a process of maceration until the fibre of the original raw material becomes individual filaments that can then be pressed into thin sheets. Cellulose is a polymer, that is, a substance with a long, strong molecule chain, that gives these thin sheets a seemingly disproportionate strength.

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