Investigation and interpretation of the significant industry for flax and retting in and around Crowle.
This project aimed to chart the industry’s development and impact, together with identifying characters involved and bringing them to life. This theme continued through examination of retting pits and their testing, along with the pilot of growing and processing flax locally with traditional methods.
Lead: Crowle & Ealand Heritage Society
Supported by: North Lincolnshire Council
There is little known about the flax and hemp industry on the Isle of Axholme. Products such as twine, linen, rope and sackcloth was locally produced in the area. Traces of this industry are seen as historic buildings and mills, possible retting pits recorded as crop mark data, street and field names and business/census records.
In 2019, an experimental flax crop has been grown, harvested (hand-pulled) and retted. The flax was then processed using traditional methods by volunteers. Following on from the processing, volunteers attended spinning and weaving sessions. Volunteers also joined the IoAHC team outdoors for coring and surveying workshops. Using the crop mark data, volunteers took samples from these pits to test for evidence of flax.
The project has reconnected local people to their farming landscape and how important the Isle of Axholme historic landscape is of national importance. The volunteers now have a better understanding of how the flax and hemp industry supported Isle households. Using the traditional methods has helped reacquaint people with forgotten practical skills such as scuthcing and heckling.
“It was a very stimulating 4 days with the opportunity to meet people approaching the subject from different angles. I learned a lot and was interested in finding out more with personal research. I also enjoyed being able to contribute to the weaving. The Isle of Axholme is a fascinating area and I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to discover this.”
“Really enjoyed the fully hands on approach, rather than someone just demonstrating and saying this is how you do it.”
“An enjoyable event very informative and a good mixture of people to share knowledge and skills.”
“Enjoyable, thought provoking, informative and interactive. Thank you.”
“Great overview of flax processing, spinning and weaving – would love to learn more – thanks.”
“I really enjoyed the course. The resulting group was diverse and interesting and acquired new skills relating to spinning and weaving.”
“This was a fascinating course, well-run and great fun. The students all came from different areas of interest and degrees of experience, which added to the richness.”