Salthouse Farm, Millom (Evaluation)

Salthouse Farm, Salthouse Road, Millom, Cumbria: Archaeological Evaluation

Following submission of a planning application for the demolition of a group of farm buildings and construction of new dwellings at Salthouse Farm, Salthouse Road, Millom, Cumbria, Greenlane Archaeology was commissioned to carry out a targeted evaluation of those areas that were thought most likely to be of archaeological interest.

A previous desk-based assessment confirmed Salthouse Farm as the probable site of a salt works of medieval date and revealed the surrounding area is relatively rich in medieval and potentially earlier remains. The two trenches excavated in the paddock area on the west side of the site revealed a complex of field drains, although these were unusual in being cut through a lower layer of subsoil rather than into the natural. Two pits, one very small and one very shallow, were also revealed, the former of which contained a large piece of industrial residue perhaps deriving from salt making. In addition, the subsoil in one of these trenches contained a relatively large number of fragments of thick ceramic tiles of uncertain function. Both trenches were, however, disturbed by the presence of live electrical services.

The two trenches excavated close to the buildings revealed a thick layer of apparently sterile sand in one and a more complex arrangement of sandy deposits in the other thought likely to have resulted from waste material produced during salt manufacture. Again, the latter of these trenches had a number of thick ceramic tile fragments amongst the overburden, as well as an iron item, perhaps a rake head, hoe, or remains of a shovel or ladle, all of which may relate to salt manufacture, although the associated deposits were disturbed by a pair of active water pipes and a large associated cut. A small amount of residual medieval pottery of probably 12th to 14th century date was also recovered from the subsoils in the paddock area.

Although no significant features were revealed and there was considerable disturbance of the deposits, a number of finds were recovered that suggest salt was being manufactured on the site, although and perhaps significantly, in the post-medieval period. It is considered likely that other deposits and possibly structural remains relating to the saltworks are likely to be situated in close proximity or perhaps beneath the standing buildings adjacent to the farmhouse.

The full report is available on the Archaeology Data Service website: http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archiveDS/archiveDownload?t=arch-700-1/dissemination/pdf/greenlan1-102681_1.pdf