Salt working

Salt workings are one example of an industrial process that is both land and shoreline based. At least 50 examples of salt works are listed in the RCAHMS database, and a number of sites have been thoroughly investigated (for example, see Lewis et al. 1999; Hooper and Aitken 2008; Hambly 2011).

Little is known about pre-Medieval saltmaking processes in Scotland. Medieval saltmaking may have largely used the sleeching process, but other methods are also possible; different processes leave very different field remains, and non-recognition and misinterpretation of these may be severely hampering our current understanding. The Late Medieval development of coal-fuelled ‘panhouse’ saltmaking may have been centred in Scotland and was of major importance to the Scottish economy in the 16th and 17th centuries (Cranstone 2006, 2009). Whatley (1987) has provided a major historical survey of the Post-Medieval industry.

Salt was a product that was widely used and hence there is a transportation component that comes with salt works and this can be both land and sea borne. It is these peripheral aspects of sites, processes and communications infrastructure that are often overlooked or not given equal treatment as the sites themselves. However, salt works embody this nodal type of site, which is not an isolated phenomenon and should be considered with a more holistic approach, which includes the attainment of the raw materials and the distribution networks associated with the finished products.

More information on the salt works at Brora can be found on the project webpage:

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