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HER Number:MDV14040
Name:Saltworks on Seaton Marshes

Summary

Saltworking has been carried out at various locations on Seaton Marshes from the prehistoric period through to the 18th century.

Location

Grid Reference:SY 250 907
Map Sheet:SY29SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishSeaton
DistrictEast Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishSEATON

Protected Status

  • SHINE: Saltworking on reclaimed land of the former (medieval) harbour of the Axe Estuary at Seaton

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SY29SE29
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SY29SW/144
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SY29SW20
  • Pastscape: 897741
  • SHINE Candidate (Yes)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • SALT WORKS (Early Iron Age to XVIII - 700 BC to 1800 AD (Between))

Full description

Unknown, Lease (Record Office Collection). SDV348483.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, SY29SW20 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV348477.

Stukeley, W., 1776, Itinerarium Curiosum, 159 (Monograph). SDV120084.

Rectangular saltpans alongside the river are shown in Stukeley's drawing of 'Moridunum' dated August 20 1723. He wrote that 'beyond the great bank of beach, is a marsh which the sea has made….this is full of salt-pans, into which they take the sea-water at high tides.'

Ordnance Survey, 1806-1807, No. 45, Part 4 (Cartographic). SDV348474.

The Ordnance Survey drawing of 1806-1807 shows three untitled features within the marshes, which have been drained.

Unknown, 1840, Seaton (Cartographic). SDV348475.

The Tithe Map and Apportionment of 1840 showns the marshes under pasture and largely in the owership of Sir John Trevelyan, Lord of the Manor. There are some 'Salt' field names.

Pulman, G. P. R., 1865, The Book of the Axe, 839-843 (Monograph). SDV124122.

Stukeley's view over Seaton dated 20th August 1723 identifies salt pans in the marshes. Three rectangular features are portrayed. An extract from a lease of 1700 gives details of structures and features relating to Saltworking. According to Davidson in 1861, saltworking had existed until a recent date.

Skinner, A. J. P., 1908 - 1909, Salt Officers of Seaton, 85-87 (Article in Serial). SDV348468.

William Stukeley in his description of Seaton in his Itinerarium Curiosum of 1726 writes 'more inward toward the land, beyond the great bank of beach is a marsh which the sea has made, landing itself up when its free flux was hindered. This is full of salt pans, in which they take the sea water at high tides'. Seaton parish records, inscriptions and a gravestone at Seaton Church give the names of some Salt Officers between 1706 and 1748.

Gosney, E., 1968, Seaton, 1785-1842, 352-354 (Article in Serial). SDV348469.

Saltworking at Seaton ended circa 1710 when the first unsuccessful attempt to embank the marshes was made.

Timms, S., 1983, Untitled Source (Personal Comment). SDV348476.

Site visit 15th February 1983. The system of drainage in the marshes is as shown on the 1806-1807 Ordnance Survey drawing and the Tithe Map although it has been considerably eroded by holiday camps, car parks etc. Earthworks within the marshes are taken to be the remains of saltworking which seem to have ceased in the early 19th century (contra Gosney). The earthworkds consist of banks and mounds, some rectangular in plan. They are concentrated in two areas as shown by the features depicted on the 1806-1807 Ordnance Survey map. Earthworks at SY24789025 are being obliterated by dumping for car park extension. The history of Seaton Marshes is currently being studied by Parkingson. Other details: Note states that worksheet not in parish file, 4th June 1985.

Gosney, E., 1984, Untitled Source (Correspondence). SDV348480.

A survey undertaken by Radford and Gosney in 1958 found visible remains of salt pans and the embankments of 1744-1756.

Parkinson, M., 1985, The Axe Estuary and its Marshes, 39-48 (Article in Serial). SDV122290.

Eleven salterns are recorded at the Manor of Fluta, probably Seaton in 1096. There are also reference in 1145 to the 'salt ponds of Bere and Seaton'. The Trevelyan salt venture of the early 18th century was a revival of an industry which appears to have lapsed for nearly six centuries. Medieval saltworks may be remembered in three field names, all called Salterne-Way in a 1682 survey of Seaton Manor. Salterton-Way is also recorded on the 1839-1840 Tithe Map.
The first Salterns at Seaton were built in 1704, possibly as a result of the 1702-12 war with France, which caused a shortage in supply, linked perhaps with Devon's involvement with the Newfoundland cod fisheries. Rectangular salt pans were dug down 2 to 4 feet to the estuarine clay and the walls lined with clay, the spoil forming a bank around the sides. Some were 30 yards by 40 yards, others longer They were filled with salt water via manipulation of sluices. A petition of 1706 refers to salthouses also. Stukeley (1723) refers to the Seaton Marshes as being 'full of saltpans' though his sketch of them is notional. A lease of 1727 refers to 2 saltworks, and a 1733 auction broadsheet records '2 salthouses with four pans thereto belonging in Seaton Marsh now in perfect good order'. Details of the auction in the Trevelyan records refer to saltpans sisterns, boyling pans and the 'lower work' or 'little saltwork' and the 'upper work' or the 'whitecross work'. Stukeley evidently sketched the lower works. They seem to have fallen out of use after the auction and were for lease again in 1741, when 3 saltworks are referred to, and again in 1742 when 'Severall salthouses, pans and other works' are referred to. Peace with France led to cheaper/superior imports and the leases were not taken. A church survey of 1756 refers to fishing as the only local trade.

Griffith, F. M., 1986, DAP/HG, 8-9A (Aerial Photograph). SDV120096.

Griffith, F., 1988, Devon's Past. An Aerial View, 52-53 (Monograph). SDV64198.

Turton, S. D. + Weddell, P. J., 1993, Archaeological Appraisal of the Salt Industry on Seaton Marshes, East Devon (Report - non-specific). SDV120092.

If the information in the lease referred to by Pulman (actually 1709) is correct, the implication is that saltmaking was undertaken at the time of the programme of marsh reclamation by Willoughby. The extent of this industry and the processes involved, or whether it continued from the medieval period is unknown. A document of 1706 refering to saltworks initiated in circa 1704 'where nothing of that kind had been before' (cited by Parkinson) suggests existing operations were small scale. Most leases of the 1720s and 17302 mention the upper and lower saltworks separately, although they were often let together. The lease of 1741 included the whole 200 acre marsh with the saltworks.

Turton, S. D., 1994, Archaeological Assessment of Proposed Axe Estuary Local Nature Reserve, 6 (Report - Assessment). SDV120094.

Reed, S. J., 1994, Archaeological Observations at Harbour Road Car Park, Seaton (Report - Evaluation). SDV348482.

Turton, S. D. + Weddell, P. J., 1996, Archaeological Assessment of Manor Road to Harbour Road Link (North), Seaton, 2, 4 (Report - Assessment). SDV348484.

Oxford Archaeotechnics Ltd, 1996, Proposed New Road, Seaton, Devon (Gradiometer Survey) (Report - Geophysical Survey). SDV348479.

Geophysical survey on route of proposed new road linking Station Road with Fore Street on the west side of town. Much of the area surveyed was too badly affected by modern infilling to produced consistent magnetic results, although some underlying features were suggested. Results from less disturbed ground in the vicinity of the low mound to the north of the survey corridor have confirmed general potential for the use of magnetic survey in detection of saltworking activity on Seaton Marshes. A number of signals were produced suggesting anomalies probably associated with the construction and use of the mound relating to saltworking activity.

Barford, P. + Fielding, A. + Penney S., 1998, Monuments Protection Programme: The Salt Industry. Step 1 Report. Consultation Report April 1998, 82 (Report - non-specific). SDV355881.

Currie, C. K., 2000, An Archaeological Desk Based Assessment of The Underfleet, Seaton, 15 (Report - Assessment). SDV340343.

Bourn, R., 2000, Land off Harbour Road, Seaton: Archaeological Desk Based Assessment, 13-14 (Report - Assessment). SDV120104.

Other details: Not in Parish File (23rd November 2011).

Currie, C. K., 2001, An archaeological evaluation at The Underfleet, Seaton, Devon, 4 (Report - Evaluation). SDV359641.

Saltworking is known to have been carried out in the Axe estuary around Seaton from the late Saxon period until at least the 12th century. There was a revival of the industry in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Exeter Archaeology, 2003-2004, East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Archaeological Survey, Site No. 1222 (Archive - Survey). SDV351568.

In 1724 it was said that the River Axe above Seaton (Seaton Marsh) was full of saltpans. It has been suggested that the salterns could have been worked in the Roman period.
SMR.

ARCA, 2008, Axe Estuary Westlands, Seaton, Devon. Geoarchaeological Survey, 56-57 (Report - Scientific). SDV347891.

LiDAR data shows the presence of earthworks in the south-easternmost field of the study area [corresponding with the site of the Lower Saltworks] which do not seem to have an agricultural application and therefore may be related to saltworking. No similar earthworks are present elsewhere in the study area, although this does not mean there are not further saltworking sites in the area. It is possible that prehistoric saltworking sites have been deeply buried by sedimentation within Axe Haven in the southern part of the study area. However, less than 0.7 metres has been deposited in the central and northern part of the study ares since the end of the Iron Age while less than 0.8 metres of deposits overlie the marine sands of medieval date. Therefore salt working features should be visible of the Roman and later periods in the northern part and of medieval and later date in the southern part respectively, if they exist.

National Monuments Record, 2011, 897741 (National Monuments Record Database). SDV348657.

Stukeley, writing in 1724, says that the Axe, above Seaton, was 'full of salt pans' and indicates their situation on an engraving in the area of Seaton Marsh. Pulman, in his Book of the Axe, published in 1875, suggests that the salterns could have been worked in the Roman period. Other details: SY29SE29. Record last updated: N/A.

Clarke, C., 2011, Land Adjacent to Harbour Road, Seaton, Devon. An Archaeological and Geoarchaeological Investigation Report, ii (Report - Evaluation). SDV348253.

No evidence for features associated with prehistoric to post medieval salt production was encountered during the course of an archaeological trench evaluation on land adjacent to Harbour Road, the site of a former holiday camp.

McConnell, R., 2011, Land Adjacent to Seaton Cemetery, Colyford Road, Seaton, Devon, 9 (Report - Evaluation). SDV348181.

No evidence for saltworking was found during an archaeological trench evaluation of land adjacent to Seaton Cemetery.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV120084Monograph: Stukeley, W.. 1776. Itinerarium Curiosum. Itinerarium Curiosum. Photocopy + Digital. 159.
SDV120092Report - non-specific: Turton, S. D. + Weddell, P. J.. 1993. Archaeological Appraisal of the Salt Industry on Seaton Marshes, East Devon. Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit Report. 93.93. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV120094Report - Assessment: Turton, S. D.. 1994. Archaeological Assessment of Proposed Axe Estuary Local Nature Reserve. Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit Report. 94.72. A4 Grip Bound. 6.
SDV120096Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1986. DAP/HG. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 8-9A.
SDV120104Report - Assessment: Bourn, R.. 2000. Land off Harbour Road, Seaton: Archaeological Desk Based Assessment. CgMs Consulting Report. A4 Stapled + Digital. 13-14.
SDV122290Article in Serial: Parkinson, M.. 1985. The Axe Estuary and its Marshes. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 117. A5 Paperback. 39-48.
SDV124122Monograph: Pulman, G. P. R.. 1865. The Book of the Axe. The Book of the Axe. Unknown. 839-843.
SDV340343Report - Assessment: Currie, C. K.. 2000. An Archaeological Desk Based Assessment of The Underfleet, Seaton. CKC Archaeology Report. A4 Stapled + Digital. 15.
SDV347891Report - Scientific: ARCA. 2008. Axe Estuary Westlands, Seaton, Devon. Geoarchaeological Survey. ARCA Report. 0708-14. A4 Comb Bound + Digital. 56-57.
SDV348181Report - Evaluation: McConnell, R.. 2011. Land Adjacent to Seaton Cemetery, Colyford Road, Seaton, Devon. Context One Archaeological Services Report. C1/EVA/11/SCS. A4 stapled + Digital. 9.
SDV348253Report - Evaluation: Clarke, C.. 2011. Land Adjacent to Harbour Road, Seaton, Devon. An Archaeological and Geoarchaeological Investigation Report. AOC Archaeology Group Report. 30841. A4 stapled + Digital. ii.
SDV348468Article in Serial: Skinner, A. J. P.. 1908 - 1909. Salt Officers of Seaton. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. Unknown. 85-87.
SDV348469Article in Serial: Gosney, E.. 1968. Seaton, 1785-1842. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 100. Hardback Volume. 352-354.
SDV348474Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1806-1807. No. 45, Part 4. Ordnance Survey 3 inch Surveyors Draft. Unknown.
SDV348475Cartographic: Unknown. 1840. Seaton. Tithe Map. Map (Paper).
SDV348476Personal Comment: Timms, S.. 1983. Worksheet.
SDV348477Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. SY29SW20. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV348479Report - Geophysical Survey: Oxford Archaeotechnics Ltd. 1996. Proposed New Road, Seaton, Devon (Gradiometer Survey). Oxford Archaeotechnics Report. 0960996/SED/EXA. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV348480Correspondence: Gosney, E.. 1984. Letter.
SDV348482Report - Evaluation: Reed, S. J.. 1994. Archaeological Observations at Harbour Road Car Park, Seaton. Exeter Archaeology Report. 94.33. A4 stapled + Digital.
SDV348483Record Office Collection: Unknown. Lease. DD/WO 35/10/29. Unknown.
SDV348484Report - Assessment: Turton, S. D. + Weddell, P. J.. 1996. Archaeological Assessment of Manor Road to Harbour Road Link (North), Seaton. Exeter Archaeology Report. 96.10. A4 Stapled + Digital. 2, 4.
SDV348657National Monuments Record Database: National Monuments Record. 2011. 897741. National Monuments Record Database. Website.
SDV351568Archive - Survey: Exeter Archaeology. 2003-2004. East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Archaeological Survey. East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Archaeological Survey. Digital + Mixed Archive Material. Site No. 1222.
SDV355881Report - non-specific: Barford, P. + Fielding, A. + Penney S.. 1998. Monuments Protection Programme: The Salt Industry. Step 1 Report. Consultation Report April 1998. English Heritage Report. Digital + A4. 82.
SDV359641Report - Evaluation: Currie, C. K.. 2001. An archaeological evaluation at The Underfleet, Seaton, Devon. CKC Archaeology. A4 stapled + Digital. 4.
SDV64198Monograph: Griffith, F.. 1988. Devon's Past. An Aerial View. Devon's Past. An Aerial View. Paperback Volume. 52-53.

Associated Monuments

MDV51124Parent of: Church Plot Field Name, Seaton (Monument)
MDV51124Related to: Church Plot Field Name, Seaton (Monument)
MDV42589Related to: Bowling Green on Seaton Marshes (Monument)
MDV51124Parent of: Church Plot Field Name, Seaton (Monument)
MDV51124Related to: Church Plot Field Name, Seaton (Monument)
MDV17619Related to: Harbour Road, formerly Station Road, Seaton (Monument)
MDV42590Related to: Medieval Harbour at Seaton (Monument)
MDV42560Related to: Medieval Salt Works at Seaton (Monument)
MDV19030Related to: Medieval Salterns at Beer (Monument)
MDV42587Related to: Saltworks on Seaton Marsh (Monument)
MDV42602Related to: Willoughby Embankment at Seaton Marshes (Monument)
MDV42588Related to: Willoughby Embankment on Seaton Marshes (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV5342 - Geoarchaeological Survey of the Axe Estuary Wetlands, Seaton

Date Last Edited:Apr 8 2020 11:29PM