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Hampshire Countryside Service

History and Archaeology

Signs within the landscape

The landscape we see today has been shaped by more than 2000 years of human activity. If you look carefully there are signs of a major industry which once thrived here.

The manufacture of salt

Salt was made by impounding seawater in shallow lagoons, known as salterns, where it was left to evaporate. Wind pumps were then used to draw off the brine solution into large metal pans where it was heated until only the salt remained.

A series of narrow docks were constructed to enable sailing barges to import coal for the boiling houses and to export the salt. Moses Dock is the only remaining navigable dock, other examples include Maiden Dock and Pennington Dock. The production of sea salt was important in this area from the Middle Ages until 1865, when cheaper mined salt from Cheshire forced the closure of the last saltern.

The Lymington-Keyhaven Nature Reserve contains the best preserved examples of medieval and later salt workings in southern England.