1) A local glossary has the following definition: ‘an instrument used in weaving to keep the threads straight. It also acts as a support to the shuttle as it runs, and, on being pulled to the piece, it drives the threads of the woof closer together’.
A word of Old English origin, on record from before the Norman Conquest. In most references it is linked with ‘heald’: 1498 unum bastard-lome cum iiij heyldes et slayes pro panno lato, Beverley
1559 I give to Thomas Dawtre one wolane slea and one pair of heldes, Wombwell
1602 to William Simpson my new lynnen loame with all the slayes saving thre or fower of the smallest, Winsley.