Salt box

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Daniel Ezra

Salt box

Postby Daniel Ezra » Wed Sep 03, 2008 7:31 am

I seem to recall coming accross the idea that as salt was so valuble that the lady of the house would have a special container for salt.

Can anyone give me a reference for one of these for the C10th or C11th?


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Postby Hobbitstomper » Wed Sep 03, 2008 1:30 pm

Salt was cheaper than most people think (and are taught in schools). One of the archeological organisations in Worcester procuced a really good booklet about the Droitwich salt industry.

Around the time of the conquest Droitwich was meant to be producing up to 10000 tons of the stuff. It was used all over the South West, transported in big cakes on donkeys. The tax to good king William was £76 which seems a lot until you divide it by the quantities produced.

There are similar places producing salt all over the country- most of which end in wich.

The 14th/15th century price for home grown salt is similar to that of grain. Imported stuff was more expensive.

Much later (18th century or something) salt was very heavily taxed so it was worth locking up. I don't know whether this was specific types of salt as it would still be needed in large quantities for food preservation.

It is reasonable to keep salt in a box with spices (which would be worth a lot in the 10th and 11th century).

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Postby Benedict » Thu Sep 11, 2008 10:57 pm

Salt-working is indeed associated with places in 'wic'/'wich', but it can also mean 'trading place'. As a rule, if you have a 'wic' inland (eg Droitwich, Nantwich, Redditch), usually in Mercia, it will be a salt-working place. If you have a 'wic' on the coast (eg Sandwich, Fordwich, Ipswich, Hamwic) it will be a trading place, typically from the seventh and eighth centuries, often categorised as an 'emporium' as it was probably a seasonal market-place rather than a permanent town.

There are references to establishing salt-pans in a couple of Worcester charters from (IIRC) the eleventh century, ie the bishop and chapter wanting to develop the resources on their estates. Even if the king applied hefty dues, salt was still a valuable commodity and worth producing.


Daniel Ezra

Postby Daniel Ezra » Fri Sep 12, 2008 7:37 am

I'll look up Domesday for the Maldon area, and see what it says.


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