Project Overview

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.

Other Projects
Project lead organisation and other organisations involved

Lead: Crowle & Ealand Heritage Society

Supported by: North Lincolnshire Council

Project Outcomes


Identifying and record features associated with flax industry
Presentation on flax industry to local groups
Numbers attending presentations
Training sessions for 20 volunteers
Number of volunteer hours contributed
Archaeological study of retting pits
Compare the local flax industry findings with other places




What difference has this project made reconnecting people with their landscape and cultural heritage?

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.

Other Information


Tags peatlands-wetlands,crafts-and-activities,woodland,landscape,moorland,peatland-railway,retting,crafts-and-activities,retting-pits,peatlands-railway,lost-landscapes,peatlands-wetlands,flaxen-locks-to-retting-pits,landscapes-of-heros,retting-pits,isle-of-axholme-hatfield-chase-landscape-partership,weaving-and-spinning,crowle-peatland-railway,crowle-peatland-railway,lost-landscapes,

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