The Salt House - Port Eynon Point, South Gower Coastal Properties

Record ID:  89067 / MNA135108
Record type:  Monument
Protected Status: None Recorded
NT Property:  Gower; Wales
Civil Parish:  Port Eynon; Abertawe - Swansea
Grid Reference:  SS 4693 8459
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Summary

Situated on Port Eynon Point overlooking the bay are the ruins of a building known as 'The Salt House'.

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Monument Types

  • SALT WORKS (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Description

Situated on Port Eynon Point overlooking the bay are the ruins of a building known as 'The Salt House'. These ruins lie outside NT property, it is a scheduled ancient monument and has been extensively excavated by GGAT. The site consists of a set of stone built structures, some now hidden beneath the sands. The beach structures consists of 3 stone lined chambers with walls over 1m thick the largest chamber being 20m x 3m. At a higher level are a group of 2 storey buildings with thick fortified walls.

This site has attracted some interesting stories about its history. The so-called historical annotation of the Lucas family claimed the building was erected in the mid C16th, and fortified by John Lucas who also apparently also fortified Culver Hole, connecting the two via an underground passage. From this stronghold, aided by a group of lawless men, he engaged piracy, resisting all attempt b the authorities to dislodge him. The history claims that 7 generations later another John Lucas found a rich vein of paint mineral and exported it from his base at the Salt House but shortly after his death the building was ruined in a storm. The name of the building was said to come from the fact that the sea washed against the battlements. Although interesting this history was later shown to be a fabricated family history written by the Rev. Dr. J. H. Spry during the 1830s in connection with a family lawsuit over the ownership of the property.

The steady erosion of the site by the sea prompted excavation of the site, undertaken by GGAT in 1986-8 and again from 1990-3, which revealed the true history of the site. It appears to have been originally built in the mid C16th as a site of salt production. The main building still visible today was used for occupation and storage whilst three large chambers on the beach were used for salt production. The sea water would enter the beach chambers at high tide where it would be stored in a reservoir. The water would be pumped into large iron pans and slowly heated and evaporated. As the salt formed it would be scooped off and stored in the northern part of the main building to dry. The first knowledge of a salt house at Port Eynon is also mentioned in a document of 1598. It would seem Welsh salt houses of the later C16th were amongst the most advanced of their day. The value if the salt is perhaps shown by the fact that the site was enlarged and fortified during the C17th, with the inclusion of musket loops within the thick walls. It appears salt production ceased around the mid C17th. Some of the structures were subsequently demolished but occupation continued in the main house. The most recent being the use of the northern end as oystermen's cottages, which were finally abandoned c1880.

References

  • SZO50086 - National Trust Report: Philip Poucher. 2003/4. The South Gower Coastal Properties, Mewslade - Port Eynon, Pilton Green, Pitton Cross and Oxwich - The National Trust Archaeological Survey.

Designations

None Recorded

Other Statuses and References

  • HER/SMR Reference (External): 192w

Associated Events

  • ENA3026 - Field Survey, The South Gower Coastal Properties 2003/4, Mewslade - Port Eynon, Pilton Green, Pitton Cross and Oxwich

Associated Finds

None Recorded

Related Records

None Recorded