Ch2 Making Scents

Display Sharing Material Culture

The unmistakable smell of the linen industry

The smell of retting (or rotting) flax is a common smell in any area which has a linen industry. Retting is a process which uses the action of micro-organisms and moisture on plants to dissolve or rot away much of the cellular tissues and pectins surrounding bast-fibre bundles. This allows separation of the fibre from the stem of the flax plant.

We’ve included a bottle of rotting flax in the exhibition so you can experience the smell for yourself!

Retting Flax immersed in Retting Waters from Silverburn

Retting Flax – Raw flax immersed in water for retting, glass bottle and stopper


Rossio beach Towel, by Thomas Ferguson Irish Linen

Rossio Towel – Rossio beach towel by Thomas Ferguson Irish Linen inspired by Rossio Square in Lisbon