Fort, Minor Settlement and Salt-working
Salinae – The Salt Pans
The sole classical geography which mentions the Roman name for the Middlewich settlement is the Ravenna Cosmology of the 7th century, wherein is listed a town called Salinis (R&C#90), between the entries for Derventio (Littlechester, Derbyshire) and Condate (Northwich, Cheshire). This name is derived from the Latin word salis ‘salt’, and the commonly accepted Roman name for Middlewich is Salinae, which is easily translated as ‘The Salt Pans’ or ‘The Salt Workings’.
The Local Salt Industry
Perhaps the most profitable industry of the Cornovii tribe was salt extraction which was carried out at several sites in Cheshire, notably here at Middlewich, although there is evidence of considerable Romano-British salt production at Northwich in the north-west, also at Nantwich in the south which has only recently been discovered. All of these Cheshire salt-factories were closely interconnected via the local Roman road network, which was no-doubt used to ship this precious commodity far and wide.
The Harbutt’s Field Roman Fort
Middlewich Cheshire SJ 70216696 On the W side of King Street, to the N of Middlewich (Salinae) and just to the S of the crossing of the River Dane, geophysical survey and sample excavation in 1993 revealed a camp, almost square in plan, which enclosed an area of approximately 1.2 ha (3.2 acres). In the E and W sides there was a gate, marked by a causeway across the ditch at the central point; on the N and S the gates were offset to the E towards the Roman road. The excavators suggested the possible presence of a timber building within the interior. (Information from Gifford and Partners.)” (RCHME, p.181)
Excavations in 1970
SJ705665 – Excavations conducted in 1970 at the south end of the settlement uncovered a number of timber buildings dating to the 2nd and early-3rd centuries; all fourth-century occupation levels had been removed during modern times. Four small pottery kilns arranged in two facing pairs were apparently in use for a short period. Debris associated with brine extraction was found in the area to the west of these timber buildings.
References for Salinae (cornoviorvm)
- Roman Camps in England – The Field Archaeology by the R.C.H.M.E. (H.M.S.O, London, 1995);
- Britannia ii (1971) p.255; Britannia i (1970) p.282.
Map References for Salinae (cornoviorvm)
NGRef: SJ7066 OSMap: LR118