Ancient Monuments

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St Monans windmill and saltpans, 350m east of 45 Miller Terrace

A Scheduled Monument in East Neuk and Landward, Fife

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Latitude: 56.2061 / 56°12'21"N

Longitude: -2.7532 / 2°45'11"W

OS Eastings: 353369

OS Northings: 701753

OS Grid: NO533017

Mapcode National: GBR 2S.DZB6

Mapcode Global: WH7SS.P84P

Entry Name: St Monans windmill and saltpans, 350m E of 45 Miller Terrace

Scheduled Date: 28 September 1993

Last Amended: 22 July 2011

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM5529

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Industrial: chemical

Location: St Monance

County: Fife

Electoral Ward: East Neuk and Landward

Traditional County: Fife


The monument comprises the remains of a saltworks of 18th-century date, surviving as a complex of upstanding walls, earthworks and rock-cut features at 0-10m above sea level. The monument lies on gently sloping land extending onto the foreshore, 350m from the village of St Monans. The monument was first scheduled in 1993, but an inadequate area was included to protect all of the archaeological remains; the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The monument's most visible feature is a slightly tapered wind-engine tower, circular in section and 4.5 m in diameter, built of 1m thick rubble and sandstone walls. The tower sits on a raised shoreline and survives to a height of approximately 9m. Beneath it, the exposed walls of one panhouse and the remains of eight more are visible at the coast edge. Nearby, evidence for the shore end of a wagonway has been traced by excavation. The wagonway ramp is still visible and is also included in the scheduling. It was used to bring coal to the complex from a coal farm to the north of the saltworks site. On the foreshore below, intertidal remains include evidence of a rock-cut channel and associated reservoir features.

The area to be scheduled is irregular in shape, to include all elements of the wind-engine tower and saltpan complex and an area around these in which evidence for the site's construction and use may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The area is bounded to the south-east by Mean Low Water Springs. On the west, it is bounded by the E end of the lido, which is specifically excluded from the scheduling. Above-ground elements of public interpretation boards and warning signs, benches, post and wire fences, gates and banister and the top 20cm of all public footpaths are specifically excluded from the scheduling. Also specifically excluded are the spiral staircase, including the viewing platform, the roof, windows and indicative sails of the wind-engine tower, except for any fittings that hold these elements to the wall.

Cultural Significance

The monument's cultural significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics

The Newark Coal and Salt Company's St Philips saltworks were constructed on the St Monans shore in 1772 and remained operational into the 1820s.

The wind-engine tower was subject to a programme of reconstruction completed in 1992 that included re-roofing, replacement of the wind-engine, installation of a new spiral stairway and upper viewing platform. We know that the wind-engine tower was used to pump sea water uphill through a rock-cut channel. Excavations of the channel between 1990-96 revealed a well-preserved wooden pipe, the remains of two beam pits and two courses of clay-bonded rubble masonry interpreted as the building remains of a possible header tank. Although no evidence of machinery survives, cylinder pumps were in extensive use by the second half of the 18th century and it is likely that such a pump, connected in some way to the wind engine, was used to lift brine into the header tank, for subsequent gravity feed to the panhouses.

Surviving earthworks on raised shoreline deposits beneath the wind-engine tower delineate the remains of nine panhouses, arranged in a gentle arc spanning a distance of 133m. At the time of the abandonment of the works around the 1820s, the panhouses were almost completely demolished and robbed of stone. However, complete excavation of Panhouse 4 revealed walls still standing 1-2m high in places and internal compartments of a building comprising a pan-chamber, fore-chamber, passageway, and doorways leading to the outside. External wall features have been interpreted as a drain and a coal shute. Panhouse 7 was also excavated to floor level, and less extensive investigations were undertaken to expose the outlines of the remaining buildings, confirming the likelihood of some masonry survival throughout. The panhouses were supplied by coal from the nearby coal farm via a wagonway; the wagon-way ramp leading down to the saltpans is still visible.

In the intertidal zone, the main visible features are the continuation of the rock-cut channel, descending in steps towards the low water mark, and a sub-rectangular excavation into the rock measuring 36m by 7.5m. This has been interpreted as the seating for a reservoir tank, although any masonry lining walls have long since disappeared. In the channel below the reservoir feature, checks in the rock indicate the use of a sluice system to allow the reservoir to retain water at low tide.

The St Philips saltworks were in operational use only for a period of half a century. Due to the almost complete survival of all major elements of the saltworks operations, unaltered by subsequent development, this complex has very considerable potential to enhance understanding of the operation of the salt industry during the post-medieval period in Scotland.

Contextual characteristics

St Philips is the best preserved example of a series of saltpans built in the East Neuk of Fife in 1772-1774 by the Newark Coal and Salt Work Company. This was at a time when demand and prices for salt were high, with salt required in large quantities for an expanding sea fishery and for export. Documentary sources indicate that small-scale coal and saltworkings had been carried out along the Fife coast since the Middle Ages. However, the Newark company's developments at St Monans were on a much larger and more intensive scale than any earlier workings along the Fife coast. We know from detailed socio-economic research that the Newark Coal and Salt Work Company was a thriving and profitable concern for about 25 years, and that its success came at the end of a period of economic stagnation which had characterised the East Neuk for over a century. Its relatively short period of operation reflected the trials of the Scottish salt industry in general, which fell into severe decline with the abolition in 1823 of the duty on imported salt.

The monument sits within the wider industrial landscape of the Fife coast, with interconnecting links to other industrial monuments nearby. The saltworks depended for fuel on adjacent coal workings; and salt was shipped mostly for sale up and down the east coast of Scotland from the harbour at Pittenweem. In turn, the parish of Pittenweem benefited both from anchorage dues for coal and salt boats, but also from significant investment in its harbour infrastructure by Sir John Anstruther on the back of success in the salt industry.

Given the links with Sir John Anstruther, the history of the St Philips saltworks is also linked with that of Elie Estate and Elie House, Sir John's seat during the 18th and early 19th centuries, and more recently a convent listed at Category A. In addition, the history of the wind engine and saltworks is linked to Balcaskie House, 2km to the north, also listed at Category A. Balcaskie was owned by Sir John's second cousin, Sir Robert Anstruther. There is an avenue within the designed landscape at Balcaskie, which provides a vista from Balcaskie House culminating in the wind-engine tower. There was a feud between the cousins about the salt and coal works, which resulted in a lawsuit in 1785, the outcome of which is not recorded in surviving documents.

Associative characteristics

Described by the Minister of St Monans in 1790 as 'one of the neatest and best combined salt-works upon the coast', this monument is a key site in helping us to understand the role of Sir John Anstruther in the industrialisation of Fife at the time of the Enlightenment in the late 18th century. The monument also helps us understand the role that capitalising landowners played in socio-economic developments during this period. The Newark Coal and Salt Work Company was a partnership venture between Sir John Anstruther and his brother-in-law Robert Fall, a grain merchant in Dunbar, a town with which the East Neuk burghs had long and close links. Fall had been described by Robert Burns, who dined with him in 1787 as 'an eminent merchant and most respectable character, but undescribable, as he exhibits no marked traits.' Despite this, Fall's involvement in the Newark Coal and Salt Work Company came to an end in 1788 when he was declared bankrupt, after which the burgh of Pittenweem acquired an interest in the company.

The St Philips complex has been the subject of extensive research by social historians and archaeologists. A monograph has been published and the archive for these investigations resides with the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS). As a result, this monument is arguably the best understood of all the saltworks across Scotland. Today, its accessible location on the Fife Coastal Path ensures that it attracts considerable public interest.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

This monument is of national importance as a particularly well preserved and relatively unaltered complex of saltworks developed during the important period of industrialisation. Extensive investigations confirm good levels of preservation, including the presence of extensive buried archaeological deposits and building remains. Survival of historical records relating to the monument's use and a published archive of its investigation enhance the potential of this monument to inform us about the significant and distinctive industry of saltworking in Scotland. This was an industry that was widespread on the Scottish seaboard between the 16th and 19th centuries and is important to our understanding of the industrial history of Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the wind-engine tower as NO50SW48 and the associated salt pans and workings as NO50SW70.

Part of the monument lies within the Firth of Forth Site of Special Scientific Interest (Index No: 8163)


CFA 1993, 'St Monance Salt Pans (St Monance parish): Resistivity survey: wagon way and workers' cottages', Discovery and Excavation in Scotland 1993, 31-32.

Donnachie, I L and Stewart, N K 1996, 'Scottish windmills - an outline and inventory', Proc Soc Antiq Scot 98, 276-299.

Gillies, A 1799, Parish of St Monance (County and Synod of Fife, Presbytery of St Andrews), in Old Statistical Account 9, 337 & 343.

Hall, D 2005, Hives of industry: Scottish monastic industries. Report to Historic Scotland. SUAT.

Lewis, J H 1985, 'St Monance (St Monance p): Salt pans', Discovery and Excavation in Scotland 1985, 16.

Lewis, J 1989, 'The excavation of an 18th-century salt-pan at St Monance, Fife', Proc Soc Antiq Scot 119, 361-370.

Lewis, J 1990, 'St Monans (St Monans parish): Salt pans', Discovery and Excavation in Scotland 1990, 13-14.

Lewis J, Martin C, Martin P and Murdoch, R 1999, The Salt and coal industries at St Monans, Fife in the 18th and 19th centuries, Tayside and Fife Archaeological Committee Monogr. 2.

McDonald, M (ed) 1996, A Guide to Scottish Industrial Heritage, Glasgow: Scottish Industrial Heritage Society.

Martin, C 1979, 'St Monans (St Monans p): Salt workings', Discovery and Excavation in Scotland 1979, 10.

Murdoch, R 1994, 'St Monans Saltpans (St Monans parish)', Discovery and Excavation in Scotland 1994, 21.

Murdoch, R 1996, 'St Monance Saltworks (St Monance parish): panhouses', Discovery and Excavation in Scotland 1996, 52.

Paxton, R and Shipway, J 2007, Civil Engineering Heritage: Scotland Lowlands and Borders. London, Thomas Telford.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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