This richly illustrated and well researched book takes a thorough look at the salt industry. Information on how and where it was made and how the production has changed through time are highlighted.
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Since prehistoric times salt has played an important part in our diets, not only being essential for the preservation of foods like meat, fish and dairy products, but also as a necessary ingredient for bread making. In addition, salt was used in a number of industrial processes such as tanning and in the chemical industry. Today it is widely used on icy roads in the winter.
As salt was such an important commodity, its production and trade were established from early times. The Salt Industry traces the history of the industry in Britain and explains the processes used to obtain it from nature. Salt can be obtained a number of ways: by evaporation from seawater or inland from brine springs or from mining rock salt deposits. Inland, salt was found in six areas of Triassic salt beds stretching from Cumbria to Somerset.
Obtaining salt from the sea dates back to prehistoric times. A common method of evaporation used the sun’s heat as a first step. Pottery found around the coast pinpoints some of the prehistoric sites. In Anglo-Saxon times charters were given for salterns. Some of these sites also survive. It was still necessary to import much salt from the continent during medieval times to supply all needs.
In Britain the main areas of production were in Cheshire and at Droitwich, Worcestershire, as well as many coastal and estuarial sites. Over 20 lead salt pans from medieval times have been found in Cheshire. The Lion Salt Works Trust has a recreation of salt making in a replica Roman lead salt pan. Rock salt mining and vacuum salt works are also included in the detailed production information. Salt refining was a step later added.
A chapter on the salt workers gives a picture of their daily work. Both men and women participated in this industry. There is information on the transport of salt and the salt tax. In 1694 Parliament passed a bill for England and Wales to tax salt at the point of manufacture. They needed finance for William III’s wars. The tax came in and out of use over the next decades.
A glossary of specialist terms is a helpful addition to the book. Also included in the book are a gazetteer of historic salt-making sites and relevant museums as well as suggestions for further reading and a list of places to visit.
Authors Andrew and Annelise Fielding have been experimenting with historic processes of salt making since moving to Cheshire in 1989. Both are archaeologists. Annelise has written and edited books on the salt industry for the Lion Salt Works Trust and Andrew has been employed by Vale Royal Borough Council to restore the Lion Salt Works at Marston, Northwich, Cheshire, as an industrial monument and working industrial museum. He contributed to the English Heritage, Monument Protection Pro¬gramme, Step 1 report on the salt industry.
We highly recommend this informative and interesting book.
The Salt Industry
by Andrew and Annelise Fielding (Shire Album 454)
Published September 7, 2006
Shire Publications Ltd
For 400 other titles and to order visit the website Shire Books
Cromwell House, Church St
Princes Risborough, Bucks
Tel. 01844 344301
Email: Shire Books
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The Lion Salt Works
Ollershaw Lane, Marston, Northwich, Cheshire
Tel/Fax. 01606 41823.
Open: Sun-Thu, 1.30-4.30pm.
Exhibition and shop open 1.30-4.30 daily, but phone to confirm.
On the Trent and Mersey canal in Marston; Victorian industrial heritage, designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument by English Heritage. Interpretation centre; horizontal steam engine, “nodding” donkey brine pump, 1900s pitch roofed salt van on original private siding, permanent and temporary exhibits; herb garden. Salt made using open pans during special events. Salt, salt pigs, and salt glazed ceramics for sale.
Web: Lion Salt Works