Marshchapel A Late Anglo-Saxon salt production site
Small-scale excavations were carried out in January 2000 at a site south-west of the village of Marshchapel in the Lincolnshire Marsh. The site had been found by a local landowner, who had recovered much medieval pottery. Geophysics revealed various 'high-anomaly'features, and four small trenches were dug, where there was evidence for ditches and pits which may have held seawater for salt production. Filling these features was a pronged bone implement used in textile-working, two spindle-whorls, and pottery of the 10th and 11th centuries. Evidence for salt extraction came from some badly degraded fired-clay supports.
There is a lot of evidence in Lincolnshire for Iron Age and Roman salt-extraction by boiling seawater in troughs. Medieval saltproduction is also evident in the survival of waste mounds created in a filtration process by which salt was extracted from sea-sand. When and why there was this change in the manufacturing process we do not know. Until the excavations at Marshchapel, there was little evidence for salt production in the
Anglo-Saxon period - though the Domesday Book records over 260 salt-pans in the county. Only a small percentage of the Marshchapel site has been excavated, and it has not been possible to work out exactly what technique was used. •
Schoolchildren on a visit to the excavation at Marshchapel in the Lincolnshire Marsh.
Left. A close-up view of one of the Roman bridge timbers.
Far Right. Two of the parallel rows of bridge supports that carried the Roman road over the River Idle at Scaftworth. The bridge span may have exceeded 7SOm.
coring, suggest a settlement located on an island in the River Trent or on the banks of the River Don.
The best example of Roman-period ingenuity comes from the roads that were built in the wetlands. In CA151, we reported on a 'turfand timber' road near Scaftworth, on the South Yorkshire-Nottinghamshire border. This road had been built as a raft that floated on the waterlogged peat. In 1997, we returned to excavate the bridge that carried the road over the River Idle. The excavations found the bridge-structure to consist of parallel rows of three oak posts, which had been driven into the clays beneath the water and peat. We can only guess at the total span of the bridge, but it may have been more than 150m. The quality of carpentry was exquisite, and the state of preservation of the archaeological timbers excellent. •