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Group of salterns north of St Peter's Church

A Scheduled Monument in Upper Beeding, West Sussex

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Latitude: 50.8906 / 50°53'26"N

Longitude: -0.3063 / 0°18'22"W

OS Eastings: 519221.288092

OS Northings: 111486.458496

OS Grid: TQ192114

Mapcode National: GBR HLT.1DK

Mapcode Global: FRA B67R.BGT

Entry Name: Group of salterns north of St Peter's Church

Scheduled Date: 16 January 1998

Last Amended: 19 March 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016722

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29252

County: West Sussex

Civil Parish: Upper Beeding

Built-Up Area: Upper Beeding

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Sussex

Church of England Parish: Beeding St Peter and Bramber St Nicholas

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


The monument, which falls into seven separate areas of protection, includes a
group of medieval salterns situated on low-lying ground on the eastern bank of
the River Adur. Before the river was embanked during the post-medieval period,
the salterns lay within the floodplain of the tidal estuary on land
periodically inundated by salt water.

The salterns are represented by at least 23 unevenly shaped middens, or
artificial heaps of waste silt and clay discarded after brine extraction.
These survive to heights of up to around 0.8m.

Investigations of similar middens elsewhere indicate that they will partly
overlie, and be surrounded by, industrial structures surviving in buried
form. These may include wicker or clay-lined pits, water channels, evaporation
kilns, lead boiling pans and the foundations of temporary wooden buildings.
Several of the middens have been partly damaged by past agricultural
operations and the construction of drainage channels and a farm track.

Documentary sources suggest that the salterns were originally operating on
land owned by Sele Priory, situated approximately 350m to the south.

The modern fences which cross the monument are excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath them is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Salt has been produced from sea water or, in inland areas, from brine springs
since before Roman times, and the technology used in the medieval period
displays a marked continuity with earlier production methods. Brine, from
which the water was evaporated to produce the salt, was collected in one of
two ways, either by its filtration from coastal sand, soil or pebbles
impregnated with salt water during high tides and periodic inundation, or by
its collection in pools or pits filled at high tide or by inland springs,
sometimes by way of a system of channels, dams and sluices.
Medieval salterns include a range of features connected with the collection
and evaporation processes, of which the most visually distinctive are the oval
or kidney-shaped middens of waste material which may cover areas of 2ha or
more. Other features usually survive in buried form beneath and around the
middens, illustrating the fact that salterns were often in use for periods of
at least a century, during which time they were occupied seasonally, their
component structures being rebuilt at the beginning of each summer or as
required. Evaporation was often aided by an evaporation kiln fuelled by peat
or wood products, of which several different types are known, and the remains
of temporary wooden buildings, wooden or wicker troughs and clay-lined pits
have also been found during excavation.
Salt was an expensive commodity during the medieval period, particularly in
demand for food preservation and curing. Salterns are known from documentary
sources and place name evidence to have been widely distributed around the
English coast and the inland brine springs of Cheshire from at least the end
of the 11th century. The industry had declined by the beginning of the 16th
century and competition with the superior and cheaper rock salt, mined from
the beginning of the 17th century, led to its demise during the early post-
medieval period.

Historical sources indicate that salt production was a part-time occupation
for small farmers and townsmen in the Adur estuary from later Anglo-Saxon
times. The Domesday Book of AD 1086 records 309 salterns in Sussex, the
largest number for any English county, and many of these were situated within
the Adur estuary. Most salt in the Adur valley was produced to meet local
needs. Originally clustered in eight large groups, some of the Adur valley
salterns have become buried under accumulated layers of river-deposited silt.
Around 133 middens were recorded as surviving as earthworks until the 1960s.
Since then, many have been levelled by agricultural operations, with the
result that only two main groups of salterns, consisting of about 30 middens,
now survive, one on the western bank of the river in Bramber, the other to the
east of the river in Upper Beeding. These represent the only surviving
medieval salterns in Sussex.

This group of salterns north of St Peter's Church form the northernmost part
of the Upper Beeding saltern group. They survive well, despite some damage
caused by modern agricultural operations, and will contain well-preserved
archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to the salt making

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Holden, E, Hudson, T, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Salt Making in the Adur Valley, Sussex, , Vol. 119, (1981), 117-148
Holden, E, Hudson, T, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Salt Making in the Adur Valley, Sussex, , Vol. 119, (1981), 117-148
Holden, E, Hudson, T, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Salt Making in the Adur Valley, Sussex, , Vol. 119, (1981), 117-148

Source: Historic England

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