Roman briquetage mounds on Burtle Moor
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1006148
Date first listed: 30-Apr-1976
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Sedgemoor (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: ST 39461 44433
Part of a Romano British salt works 390m north west of Burtle Moor Farm.
Reasons for Designation
Salt has been produced from sea water or, in inland areas, from brine springs since before Roman times, and the technology used 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. Salt workings or 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 particularly in demand for food preservation and curing.
Despite partial excavation the part of a Romano British salt works 390m north west of Burtle Moor Farm survives well and will contain important information concerning Roman salt manufacturing techniques.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 26 August 2015. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.
This monument includes part of a Romano British salt works situated within the Somerset Levels in an area known as Burtle Moor between the River Brue and the Sand Ditch Rhyne. The salt workings survive as a series of at least five roughly circular mounds standing between 6m and 22m in diameter and from 0.3m to1.2m high and identified by their high briquetage content. They form part of a much larger identified complex of salt workings in the area. Although first noted as possible Roman potteries, the excavations by Bulleid in 1914 found the mounds were generally circular and composed of large quantities of briquetage including potsherds, tiles and bricks intermixed with fine ash but with no specific kilns. Although pot wasters were found many felt the kiln-sites were actually for boiling salt water, to evaporate it thus producing salt. The mounds date to the 3rd-4th centuries AD and have been linked to marine transgressions into the areas where they are usually found, which seems to confirm this suggested purpose.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: SO 429
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
PastScape Monument No:-617674 and 192290
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing