I wonder if the location of these recent sites between Middlewich and
Nantwich were found during the ecxcavations of the Gas Pipeline in 2002 (
foot and mouth was at its height). If so then I would guess contacting
Network Archaeology ( who were based in Lincoln) as they carried out this
excavation work. I do remember that we discovered 3 Romano British round
houses and there was a possible marching camp but I don't remember any talk
of Salt. I do remember the soil there reacting with my skin to the point it
burnt and I looked like my hands had been roasted in the oven. The last
thing I remember was some "experts " coming to the site and comparing it to
the finds discovered during the Manchester Airport excavations.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Bea Hopkinson" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Sunday, July 23, 2006 11:35 PM
Subject: Re: [BRITARCH] Wicks, vics and wiches
> 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
> resources also.
> 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
>>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
>>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
> Lincolnshire >
>>and East Anglia Fenlands and along the Essex coastline. Here the sea water
>>concentrated in pottery pans 60cm wide, 120cm long , and about 12mm
> 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
> goes on:
> > and the strong brine was then evaporated in small pottery vessels
> >on pillars to give the lump of salt which was obtained by breaking
> the vessels.
> 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 :)
> It says
> >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 ???)
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