Heritage Crafts

Hazel basket making

The making of frame baskets using split hazel, also known as whiskets.
Craft category
Historic area of significance
Mid/East Wales, North Wales Brecnock, Radnorshire, Montgomeryshire, Ceredigion
Area practiced currently
Origin in the UK
Current No. of professionals (Main income)
Current No. of professionals (Side income)
Current No. of trainees
1 (Stan McNulty, part time apprentice)
Current total No. of serious amateur makers
Current No. of leisure makers
Not known


These were agricultural frame baskets made using split hazel weavers. They vary in style and technique across the UK.

In North Wales, there was no special name for the hazel baskets. They were referred to according to their use e.g. basged dillad (clothes basket). There was also no particular style of basket. Individual makers used ribs, weavers and hoops creatively to produce the size, shape and style of basket they wanted.

Whiskets (Wales and borders): A whisket is a round or oval bottomed, frame basket. It was made using split hazel weavers, split hazel ribs running along its length and a hazel hoop, the hoop often constructed from two spliced half sections. The basket has two handles formed on the sides of the hoop which are often wrapped around with weavers. Whisket or wisket may have same etymology as whisk.


  • Sourcing suitable hazel rods at right time of year for yielding good long weavers
  • Dressing and preparing rods, splitting consistent hazel weavers and ribs
  • Dressing weavers and ribs
  • Assembly of frame basket


  • Cockle baskets of the Gower Peninsular

Issues affecting the viability

  • Market issues: Low potential income for effort involved in processing raw materials.
  • Skills issues: Baskets of this kind might have been made on upland farms where required using limited availability of a raw material (hazel rods, not necessarily coppiced). This was a traditional rural Welsh craft, practiced often by farmers for own use, with limited opportunities for marketing. Little written evidence of skills or techniques so knowledge and skills faded as old generations of farmers died, and farms broken up with no young practitioners. Baskets were made to be used, so had finite life. Hazel is susceptible to woodworm so old examples are rare.

Support organisations

  • Basketmakers Association

Training organisations

There are a few tutors who offer courses in hazel basket making:

Craftspeople currently known

Individual craftspeople:

Other information



National Lottery Heritage Fund
Swire Charitable Trust
The Royal Mint
Pilgrim Trust
Maxwell/Hanrahan Foundation
William Grant Foundation

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