Woven in Ulster: Ulster-Scots and the Story of Linen

Woven in Ulster: Ulster-Scots and the Story of Linen

Lesson 3: Preparing the Plants

In this lesson pupils will become familiar with the series of processes through which the flax plants are broken down and prepared for spinning into yarn. Pupils have an opportunity to use historical evidence, become familiar with Ulster-Scots vocabulary related to the processes and also to carry out a drama freeze frame activity.

Lesson Plan

Keywords and Phrases

retting breaking scutching hackling drying

Learning Intentions

Pupils will:

  • be able to recognise and discuss the terms retting, breaking, scutching and hackling, as processes in linen production;
  • be able to explain and demonstrate to each other what the processes involve; and
  • be able to use and understand Ulster-Scots and other vocabulary, relevant to the processes.


Ask pupils to join with another group and review the Thinking Skills and Personal Capabilities they used during their freeze frame activity and decide what could be improved. A debrief afterwards could focus on the nature of body language used in the freeze frame, why pupils decided to depict the scene in the way they did, and why others might have depicted the event in a different way.

Additional Pupil Activities

1. Photo Story Activity

Pupils working in groups could take photographs of a stage of the linen process and use the photographs and some Ulster-Scots words to make an audio visual presentation. (Photo Story 3 software is available in Create tab of MyApps on C2K.)

2. Using Ulster-Scots

Watch Scutching Today to remind pupils of the scutching process. Now provide pupils with an opportunity to listen to poet and author James Fenton as he talks about ‘lint’ – growing it, retting it, drying it and taking it to the lint mill. To encourage active listening, give pupils some linen related words such as ‘lint’, ‘beet’ etc that they have already come across and ask them to listen for them in the audio.

Links to Curriculum

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