Retting pools and retting areas.

Author : Andrée Le Gall-Sanquer / June 2023

In the Trégor area, the number of retting areas, where linen was treated, is impressive. Different records kept over time at different periods in history estimate as many as 4 500 such places ! They were also called Linen or hemp washing pools, « rottoirs » or « douets »…

These rectangular stone pools, sometimes built in a row, or opposite one another, were often close to the sea. Thus, a system that gave a constant supply of flowing water was elaborated in each place. The bunches of flax were placed at the bottom of these pools, covered by wooden planks that were held in place by large stones. Water was then added, and the soaking process would continue for several days. This process is the basis for all of the production techniques that followed.

Over the years, these retting pools have been abandoned, becoming waste dumping areas, or have even disappeared completely due to urban development. If excavated, they would once again become an integral part of our collective memory.


Author : Andrée Le Gall-Sanquer , « Retting pools and retting areas. », Bécédia [en ligne], ISSN 2968-2576, mis en ligne le 29/06/2023.


Contributed by : Bretagne Culture Diversité