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Thursday, 7 July 2011

Help excavate the New Forest National Park

Volunteers excavating at a Salt Boiling house
near Lymington
To celebrate the ‘Festival of British Archaeology’ the New Forest National Park Authority invites you to explore some salty archaeology secrets at a series of events for all ages.

From Monday 18 July to Friday 22 July the Authority’s Maritime Archaeology Education and Outreach Officer James Brown will be running a guided walk called ‘Salty Secrets’ at Pennington Marshes.

The two-mile walk through the remnants of Lymington’s hidden salt production landscape will take you to where volunteers are currently excavating in an attempt to find the earliest evidence of salt production along the New Forest coast.

Along the way you will have the opportunity to learn about the long forgotten history of the salt boiling houses in Lymington, how they dominated the coastline, brought huge wealth to Lymington and some private individuals, before they went into rapid decline and nearly disappeared completely which is why the remaining examples are now so important.

Salt was a vital trade and the building which you will visit ceased production in 1865 - it was one of the last sea salt producers in the country to close. Evidence shows that at the industry’s peak in around 1730 there were 163 pans in the Lymington area. Between 1724 and 1766 Lymington exported 4,612 tons of salt in 64 ships - 12 cargoes were destined for Newfoundland, 33 to America and others to Norway, Ireland and the Channel Islands.

On Saturday 23 July an ‘Antiques Roadshow’ style event gives you the chance to bring along your archaeological finds to the New Forest Centre in Lyndhurst.

Every year thousands of objects are discovered, many by metal detector users but also by people out walking, gardening or by going about their daily work. Such important discoveries offer valuable clues into our past.

Experts from the Portable Antiques Scheme and the National Park Authority will be at the free event to answer your questions, provide information and tell you a bit more about your finds.

James Brown, the Authority’s Maritime Archaeology Education & Outreach Officer, said: ‘These events showcase a small example of the rich cultural heritage of the New Forest National Park. The national “Festival of Archaeology” is a great opportunity to learn about your own local heritage, to get involved and see archaeology in action.

‘The “Salty Secrets” walks will offer people an insight into a lost trade that ceased over 100 years ago. Anyone who comes along will have a great time and have a chance to talk to some of our volunteers about the work they do.

‘I’m really looking forward to what I could potentially discover at the identification day. Who knows what we may find. That is the beauty of archaeology- you never know what is going to turn up next.’

For event times and dates visit

Recommended Reading: Lymington and Pennington (Then and Now)

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like a great project. The New Forest has a lot of history.