Plant fibres are known to show a large variability in stiffness, which makes it time-consuming to experimentally characterize this property by conventional tensile testing. In this work, an alternative method is used, where the average fibre stiffness is back-calculated from compaction tests of in-plane randomly oriented fibre mats. The model by Toll is used to relate the load-displacement curve from the test to the Young modulus of the fibre, taking into account the natural variability in fibre cross section. Several tests have been performed on hemp fibre mats and compared with results from single-fibre tensile testing. The average back-calculated Young's modulus of the fibres was 45 GPa, whereas the average value from tensile testing ranged from 30 to 60 GPa. The straightforward compaction test can be useful in ranking of fibre stiffness, provided that the mat is composed of well-separated fibres and not of twisted yarns.