I suppose in regards to strategic settlements we have to ask
which came first, the chicken or the egg. Natural resources were a source
of income and necessary to the infrastructure of any settled population,
whether it was to trade goods or make them. No surprise then that Roman
Roads lead to such places like Cheshire and Droitwich and I am sure to
I took a look at the web site you refer to re Middlewich and
Nantwich put out by the "Salt Manufacturers Association" (presumably of
Cheshire ?) and have to comment on some of the statements made, though I
was pleased to see a disclaimer as to their accuracy. These web sites
reach a large number of interested readers and it pains me to see poorly
researched information being so widely propagated, particularly as it is
mixed in with more acceptable statements of fact.
>Archaeological digs at salt making sites in Cheshire and Worcestershire have >
>produced relatively small amounts of briquetage when compared with the
There are some 200 briquetage sites (when last counted) along the
east coast, mainly in Essex and Lincolnshire but in other counties also.
However, the concentration of briquetage at any ONE of these sites is
not to the best of my knowledge, larger than the briquetage deposits at
Droitwich where these deposits are dated to the late Bronze/early Iron
Age . That found in Cheshire that was not extensive (that I am familiar
with) was of Romano-British date, though the statement is made that more
recently Iron Age briquetage has been found between Middlewich and
Nantwich. I'd be grateful to the list if anyone can supply a reference
and date for that. Much work has been done since I focussed on the
Cheshire data and clearly in the last decade there have been many
> Sea water or brine from inland springs was evaporated in these vessels over
>fires to give a residual lump of salt.
The Briquetage vessels I am familiar with in Britain and throughout
Europe were not used for boiling (see BH, Indo-European J. publication
1973), though elsewhere in the world where salt is not so easy to obtain,
jars of 'ordinary' pottery have been used to drain and dry salt in a
process that looks much like boiling.
> There have been extensive finds of Iron Age briquetage in the
>and East Anglia Fenlands and along the Essex coastline. Here the sea water
>concentrated in pottery pans 60cm wide, 120cm long , and about 12mm thick...
This statement regarding the use of this size of pottery vessel for
CONCENTRATING seawater is the first I've seen that correctly understands
the process necessary for recovering salt from seawater. But then it
> and the strong brine was then evaporated in small pottery vessels
>on pillars to give the lump of salt which was obtained by breaking
All of those vessels of briquetage found at coastal sites in England that
I was able to document in my 1973 paper were typically draining and
drying molds for WET SALT CRYSTALS - though I would emphasize that other
types of vessels may have since been found that are different.
Re the Chinese treatise there are several spellings of its title,
but more accurately it should be Pen-tzao-kang-mu (not Png-tzao-kan-mu).
I know that to be the case as I examined these documents at Harvard
University many years ago. Then there is the "health" statement re salt
under a web URL http://www.saltsense.co.uk/...which really pains me :)
>Salt is essential for life and for good health.The sodium it
contains helps >
>maintain the fluid in your blood cells and transmit electrical impulses
>your brain, nerves and muscles.
It would be a good idea if formal web sites did a little original
research to understand why salt really is important!
We then have the misconception that salt was first recovered from
seawater. If it was then we would have to say that the seashores of
every country is where man first settled. Can we say that in
Mesopotamia? Or China - or Cheshire or Droitwich, or anywhere else? The
truth is that salt was a necessity and it was recovered in one way or
another no matter where man chose to settle.
>Salt history page:
>Salt making between Middlewich and Nantwich.
>There does seem to be some evidence that places near where salt was
>collected were called wics. As salt was a resource not available
>everywhere, it would likely to have been traded on a local scale.
>Note the linguistic evidence from the Latin vicus and proximity to Roman
>roads (Stret-ham might have been more like the railway station in
>Victorian terms). Hamm could (more speculatively) been the animal paddocks
>or more likely pastures (does not seem to be an OE word for pasture ???)