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Brora (11937)

Current Priority
2
East
290365
North
903271
Site Type
Salt Works
Period
18th century

Nothing visible as previous excavation by Clyne Heritage Society has been backfilled.

ShoreUPDATE comment:

This record refers to the whole site of the 18th century or 'New' Salt Pans in Brora. The SCAPE Trust with Clyne Heritage Society and local volunteers carried out substantial excavations on the site in 2007, 2008 and 2009. (Refer to Brora Back beach Data Structure reports 2007, 2008, 2009 for full details and wesite http://www.shorewatch.co.uk/brora).

Developed by John Williams for the Sutherland Estate in 1767, the Salt Pans only operated for a decade, closing in 1777. They are depicted on estate maps of 1772 (Kirk) and 1813 (Farey).

Excavations identified 3 buildings identified on the estate plans as well as an 'Intended Waggon Road' [see Site Record 11938]. Two of the buildings were comprehensively excavated. The ground plan of the buildings was almost identical. They measured 14.8m in length and 4.8m wide. A central wall divided the buildings into 2 large rooms. The dividing wall contained evidence of a central chimney with a fireplace opening into the east room and a more substantial hearth structure opening into the west room. The buildings were constructed with local sandstone, bonded with clay and harled with lime mortar. The hearths and chimneys were of brick. One of the buildings had a pantiled roof. In the other building, labelled the Salt Mans's House on Farey's 1813 map, ([see site record 11936] there was no evidence of roofing material. Historic documentation mentions turf roofs, so it was posssibly turf. It is probable that these buildings were multi-functional - with a salt pan on one side and accommodation, storage and drying room on the other. Only a fragment of the back wall of a third building survived, the rest of having been lost to erosion. However, it is depicted in the same way and with the same dimensions on the 1772 estate plan, and so is likely to have been very similar to the two excavated.

Two further buildings depicted on the 1772 plan nearest to the coast edge are now completely destroyed. Their location is now within the intertidal zone.

A rich artefact assemblage from the buildings included numerous domestic items including high status imported pottery and gin bottles, drinking glasses, animal bone, fish bone, very numerous Fe objects (mostly nails and fittings and fixtures from the buildings), and a pair of scissors.

Coastline regression using historic mapping showed that between 30 and 50m of coastline has been lost in the vicinity of the 18th century. Most of the historical loss occurred between 1772 and 1813. The current rate of loss, however, appears to be the most rapid yet documented.

Although this site has been excavated, continued rapid erosion of the dune face here will almost certainly reveal additional evidence, and possbly uninvestgated buildings. The known buildings and intended Waggon Way are clearly visible in the dune face as layers of coal dust, stone walls, and brick and pantile debris.

Condition and current recommendations:

Condition
Fair
Action
None

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Record 235 on map 10 in East Sutherland Coastal Zone Assessment Survey, 2010

Other records:

NMRS
294450
SMR
MHG32955

ShoreUpdates

1 ShoreUpdate accepted and 0 pending.

Click on an update to expand it.

27th February, 2015 by jo
Survey Information
User:
jo
Date:
Feb. 27, 2015
Tidal state:
low
Site located?:
Yes
Condition Information
Proximity to coast edge:
coast edge
Coastally eroding?:
active sea erosion; has eroded in the past
Is there a coastal defence?:
no
Description:

Nothing visible as previous excavation by Clyne Heritage Society has been backfilled.

ShoreUPDATE comment:

This record refers to the whole site of the 18th century or 'New' Salt Pans in Brora. The SCAPE Trust with Clyne Heritage Society and local volunteers carried out substantial excavations on the site in 2007, 2008 and 2009. (Refer to Brora Back beach Data Structure reports 2007, 2008, 2009 for full details and wesite http://www.shorewatch.co.uk/brora).

Developed by John Williams for the Sutherland Estate in 1767, the Salt Pans only operated for a decade, closing in 1777. They are depicted on estate maps of 1772 (Kirk) and 1813 (Farey).

Excavations identified 3 buildings identified on the estate plans as well as an 'Intended Waggon Road' [see Site Record 11938]. Two of the buildings were comprehensively excavated. The ground plan of the buildings was almost identical. They measured 14.8m in length and 4.8m wide. A central wall divided the buildings into 2 large rooms. The dividing wall contained evidence of a central chimney with a fireplace opening into the east room and a more substantial hearth structure opening into the west room. The buildings were constructed with local sandstone, bonded with clay and harled with lime mortar. The hearths and chimneys were of brick. One of the buildings had a pantiled roof. In the other building, labelled the Salt Mans's House on Farey's 1813 map, ([see site record 11936] there was no evidence of roofing material. Historic documentation mentions turf roofs, so it was posssibly turf. It is probable that these buildings were multi-functional - with a salt pan on one side and accommodation, storage and drying room on the other. Only a fragment of the back wall of a third building survived, the rest of having been lost to erosion. However, it is depicted in the same way and with the same dimensions on the 1772 estate plan, and so is likely to have been very similar to the two excavated.

Two further buildings depicted on the 1772 plan nearest to the coast edge are now completely destroyed. Their location is now within the intertidal zone.

A rich artefact assemblage from the buildings included numerous domestic items including high status imported pottery and gin bottles, drinking glasses, animal bone, fish bone, very numerous Fe objects (mostly nails and fittings and fixtures from the buildings), and a pair of scissors.

Coastline regression using historic mapping showed that between 30 and 50m of coastline has been lost in the vicinity of the 18th century. Most of the historical loss occurred between 1772 and 1813. The current rate of loss, however, appears to be the most rapid yet documented.

Although this site has been excavated, continued rapid erosion of the dune face here will almost certainly reveal additional evidence, and possbly uninvestgated buildings. The known buildings and intended Waggon Way are clearly visible in the dune face as layers of coal dust, stone walls, and brick and pantile debris.

Management Information
How visible are the remains? (above ground):
not visible
How visible are the remains? (in section):
limited visibility in section
How accessibile is the site?:
accessible on foot (no footpath)
The site is:
is well known; has local associations/history
Comments and recommendations
Recommendations:

Regular monitoring. Provision for rapid recording and investigation of additional material. Upgrade to Category 2.