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St Monance, East Braes, Saltpansalternative Names: St Monans; Coalfarm; Coal Farm (1310)

Current Priority
2
East
353340
North
701800
Site Type
Industrial/ Extractive/ Salt Pans
Period
18th-19th C

Erosion along the shore below the windmill described on NO50SW 48 has revealed in section coal ash deposits, brick and stone-lined flues, and the remains of the wooden pipe which drew sea water to the pans. On the foreshire, extending to low water mark, rock-cut channels, sluice slots, a pipe tunnel and an evaporating tank have been identified. The remains are probably of mid to late 18th century date. C Martin 1979.

'Coastal erosion threatened the easternmost of a series of nine 18th century salt pans. Excavation revealed a panhouse, approximately 9m square and surviving to a maximum height of about 1.5m. Within the building intense heat had necessitated numerous repairs to the masonry upon which the pans had stood. Coal, from a nearby mine, was introduced into the furnace via a narrow passage presumably leading from the forehouse which was outwith the area of excavation. There was no evidence of a chimney at the excavated level. Ancillary structures in the vicinity included bucket pots and windmill NO50SW 48.' J H Lewis 1985.

Described by the minister of St Monans in 1790 as 'One of the neatest and best combined salt-works upon the coast', this saltworks was established by Sir John Anstruther, who inherited these lands in 1753. In 1771 (with Robert Fall) he establsihed the Newark Coal and Salt company, integrating a colliery (on the site of Coalfarm, NO50SW 312), a windmill (NO50SW 48), a waggonway and salt pans; these last were built along the shore in 1772-4. Salt was exported through St Monans harbour (NO50SW 81). The waggonway went out of use in 1794, on account of reduced coal production resulting from a major underground fire. Mining continued on a small scale (apparently to supply the pans) but pumping stopped in 1803; the pans themselves were abandoned by 1823. Taken together, these remains represent an early intergrated development which has not been obliterated by later works. Public information boards have been put in place. P Martin 1992.

NO 533 017 In accordance with the specification produced by the Regional Archaeologist, resistivity survey was conducted on a narrow strip of land, of about 1ha, bordered by a steep slope up to the N and a sharp drop to the S. A windmill (NO50SW 48) is located above the N slope and the saltpans can be seen to the S, many eroding out of the cliff face. Documentary evidence suggests that the saltpans were in operation between the mid-1770's and 1823. A sewage pipe running roughly NE to SW across the survey area produced a very strong signal which may have obscured any archeaological features present in this vicinity. A series of apparent structural remains, possibly workers' cottages, were detected at the western end of the survey area. A waggon-way is known to have linked a colliery on the site of the presnt Coal Farm with the saltpans. Its route is visible descending the N slope, but no trace was visible on the survey plot. Seven test pits were placed over selected anomalies. Two of these were placed on the cutting for the waggon-way, and exposed deposits of compactable rubble. Test pits excavated at the W end of the survey area all contained layers of compacted rubble, which are probably associated with the traces of structures indicated by resistivity survey. Sponsor: Fife Regional Council CFA 1993

NO 533 018 Excavation by Scotia Archaeology Limited within a field lying between the windmill and the St Monans to Pittenweem coastal path revealed an extensive array of structures associated with the 18th/19th-century saltworks. These included: the forehouse of one of the salterns; two stretches of channel that may have been asssociated in some way with the transfer of seawater to the pans; part of a stone and brick building (perhaps a store); and a section of the wagonway that connected the saltworks with the coal pits further N. The forehouse: Within a trench measuring 15m by 15m and below recendy deposited rubble and other debris up to 2m deep, were the remains of a roughly rectangular building, 9. 1 m E-W by more than 5m N-S. Its sandstone walls were 0. 60m thick and stood to a maximum height of 1. 5m. Projecting from the N wall was a coal chute with a sloping back wall and a deposit of small coal at its base. The floor of the main chamber comprised sandstone flags and bedrock, both of which were covered with ash. There were doorways in the W and E walls, the latter deliberately blocked. This building was not fully exposed and its link with the nearby panhouse was not established. The channel and associated features: Extending northwards from the outer face of the E wall of the forehouse was a rock-cut, stone-lined channel, 0.90m wide, its base lined along part of its length with heavy, yellow clay. This channel continued as far as the base of the cliff upon which the windmill stands. The precise function of this channel and its relationship with the salterns, the seawater reservoirs and the windmill are far from clear although the latter appeared to be connected with the channel via what may have been two beam pits cut into the cliff. To the W of the channel, at the base of the cliff, were the partially excavated remains of a masonry structure whose overall dimensions and function remain unresolved. The foreshore: A rock-cut channel had carried seawater from an outer bucket pot (or perhaps settling pond) to a smaller, inner pot/pond, now barely discernible in the bedrock. From this point another channel extended 14m northwards where its course continued into a tunnel. Within this channel were two jointed wood pipes, 0.17m internal bore, one of which was built into a cross bulkhead. Raggles were cut into the side walls of the channel at three points, probably to accommodate wooden sluice gates. The store/gimel: Exploratory trenching some 60m E of the excavated forehouse revealed the remains of two walls of what may have been a store, or girnel. The walls, which stood to less than 0.5m in height, appeared to have been of brick construction on foundations of sandstone masonry. Within the interior of the building were two rows of unbonded bricks, forming what may have been a raised platform, which perhaps allowed air to circulate below any materials which may have been stored therein. The wagonway: A trench, measuring approximately 5m N-S by 2m wide, was cut across the presumed wagonway that climbed up the raised beach at the E end of the site. Below topsoil were two somewhat indistinct linear features, 0.20m wide and 1.Om apart, perhaps the impressions made by tram lines. Sponsors: Fife Regional Council, North East Fife District Council. R Murdoch 1994

NO 533 018 The outlines of all nine panhouses were revealed when the overlying topsoil and deep deposits of rubble and other debris were removed by tracked, mechanical excavators operating under the archaeological supervision of Scotia Archaeology Ltd. At the excavated level, only minor variations were evident between the buildings, each of which measured approximately 15 x 9m. The interior of the best-preserved panhouse was totally cleared of debris and will be displayed at a later date. At the back of this building was a coal chute which led into the rear of the fore-chamber whose floor was partially flagged. The flags extended into the curved, brick-lined passage through which coal was transferred to the pan-chamber. At the S end of the passage was a doorway with checks, probably for a shutter. The dwarf walls (sieges) used to support the brine pan had survived reasonably well. Sponsor: Fife Regional Council R Murdoch 1996.

References CFA (1993 l) 'St Monance salt pans (St Monance parish): resistivity survey: waggon-way and workers' cottages', Discovery Excav Scot, 1993, 31-2, Lewis, J H (1985 b) 'St Monance (St Monance p), salt pans', Discovery Excav Scot, 1985, 16, Lewis, J (1990 h) 'The excavation of an 18th-century salt-pan at St Monance, Fife', Proc Soc Antiq Scot, 119, 1989, Martin, C [J M] (1979 a) 'St Monans (Monans p), salt workings', Discovery Excav Scot, 1979, 10, no.53, Murdoch, R (1994 d) 'St Monans saltpans (St Monance parish)', Discovery Excav Scot, 1994, 21, Murdoch, R (1996 c) 'St Monance Saltworks (St Monance parish), panhouses', Discovery Excav Scot, 1996, 52, Whatley, C A (1987 ) The Scottish salt industry 1570-1850: an economic and social history, Aberdeen, 5, 25-6, 76, 89, 90, 105.

ShoreUPDATE May2017: Coastal defence has failed in front of easternmost panhouse, and is beginging in the mid section of coast edge. Deposits are freshly eroded and new material revealed.

Condition and current recommendations:

Condition
Fair
Action
Monitor site to report fresh exposures

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Record NO50SW70 on map 18 in Coastal Assessment Survey for Historic Scotland Fife -Kincardine to Fifeness, 1996

Other records:

NMRS
34266
SMR
Unknown

ShoreUpdates

1 ShoreUpdate accepted and 0 pending.

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24th May, 2017 by jo
Survey Information
User:
jo
Date:
May 24, 2017
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?:
yes
Description:

Erosion along the shore below the windmill described on NO50SW 48 has revealed in section coal ash deposits, brick and stone-lined flues, and the remains of the wooden pipe which drew sea water to the pans. On the foreshire, extending to low water mark, rock-cut channels, sluice slots, a pipe tunnel and an evaporating tank have been identified. The remains are probably of mid to late 18th century date. C Martin 1979.

'Coastal erosion threatened the easternmost of a series of nine 18th century salt pans. Excavation revealed a panhouse, approximately 9m square and surviving to a maximum height of about 1.5m. Within the building intense heat had necessitated numerous repairs to the masonry upon which the pans had stood. Coal, from a nearby mine, was introduced into the furnace via a narrow passage presumably leading from the forehouse which was outwith the area of excavation. There was no evidence of a chimney at the excavated level. Ancillary structures in the vicinity included bucket pots and windmill NO50SW 48.' J H Lewis 1985.

Described by the minister of St Monans in 1790 as 'One of the neatest and best combined salt-works upon the coast', this saltworks was established by Sir John Anstruther, who inherited these lands in 1753. In 1771 (with Robert Fall) he establsihed the Newark Coal and Salt company, integrating a colliery (on the site of Coalfarm, NO50SW 312), a windmill (NO50SW 48), a waggonway and salt pans; these last were built along the shore in 1772-4. Salt was exported through St Monans harbour (NO50SW 81). The waggonway went out of use in 1794, on account of reduced coal production resulting from a major underground fire. Mining continued on a small scale (apparently to supply the pans) but pumping stopped in 1803; the pans themselves were abandoned by 1823. Taken together, these remains represent an early intergrated development which has not been obliterated by later works. Public information boards have been put in place. P Martin 1992.

NO 533 017 In accordance with the specification produced by the Regional Archaeologist, resistivity survey was conducted on a narrow strip of land, of about 1ha, bordered by a steep slope up to the N and a sharp drop to the S. A windmill (NO50SW 48) is located above the N slope and the saltpans can be seen to the S, many eroding out of the cliff face. Documentary evidence suggests that the saltpans were in operation between the mid-1770's and 1823. A sewage pipe running roughly NE to SW across the survey area produced a very strong signal which may have obscured any archeaological features present in this vicinity. A series of apparent structural remains, possibly workers' cottages, were detected at the western end of the survey area. A waggon-way is known to have linked a colliery on the site of the presnt Coal Farm with the saltpans. Its route is visible descending the N slope, but no trace was visible on the survey plot. Seven test pits were placed over selected anomalies. Two of these were placed on the cutting for the waggon-way, and exposed deposits of compactable rubble. Test pits excavated at the W end of the survey area all contained layers of compacted rubble, which are probably associated with the traces of structures indicated by resistivity survey. Sponsor: Fife Regional Council CFA 1993

NO 533 018 Excavation by Scotia Archaeology Limited within a field lying between the windmill and the St Monans to Pittenweem coastal path revealed an extensive array of structures associated with the 18th/19th-century saltworks. These included: the forehouse of one of the salterns; two stretches of channel that may have been asssociated in some way with the transfer of seawater to the pans; part of a stone and brick building (perhaps a store); and a section of the wagonway that connected the saltworks with the coal pits further N. The forehouse: Within a trench measuring 15m by 15m and below recendy deposited rubble and other debris up to 2m deep, were the remains of a roughly rectangular building, 9. 1 m E-W by more than 5m N-S. Its sandstone walls were 0. 60m thick and stood to a maximum height of 1. 5m. Projecting from the N wall was a coal chute with a sloping back wall and a deposit of small coal at its base. The floor of the main chamber comprised sandstone flags and bedrock, both of which were covered with ash. There were doorways in the W and E walls, the latter deliberately blocked. This building was not fully exposed and its link with the nearby panhouse was not established. The channel and associated features: Extending northwards from the outer face of the E wall of the forehouse was a rock-cut, stone-lined channel, 0.90m wide, its base lined along part of its length with heavy, yellow clay. This channel continued as far as the base of the cliff upon which the windmill stands. The precise function of this channel and its relationship with the salterns, the seawater reservoirs and the windmill are far from clear although the latter appeared to be connected with the channel via what may have been two beam pits cut into the cliff. To the W of the channel, at the base of the cliff, were the partially excavated remains of a masonry structure whose overall dimensions and function remain unresolved. The foreshore: A rock-cut channel had carried seawater from an outer bucket pot (or perhaps settling pond) to a smaller, inner pot/pond, now barely discernible in the bedrock. From this point another channel extended 14m northwards where its course continued into a tunnel. Within this channel were two jointed wood pipes, 0.17m internal bore, one of which was built into a cross bulkhead. Raggles were cut into the side walls of the channel at three points, probably to accommodate wooden sluice gates. The store/gimel: Exploratory trenching some 60m E of the excavated forehouse revealed the remains of two walls of what may have been a store, or girnel. The walls, which stood to less than 0.5m in height, appeared to have been of brick construction on foundations of sandstone masonry. Within the interior of the building were two rows of unbonded bricks, forming what may have been a raised platform, which perhaps allowed air to circulate below any materials which may have been stored therein. The wagonway: A trench, measuring approximately 5m N-S by 2m wide, was cut across the presumed wagonway that climbed up the raised beach at the E end of the site. Below topsoil were two somewhat indistinct linear features, 0.20m wide and 1.Om apart, perhaps the impressions made by tram lines. Sponsors: Fife Regional Council, North East Fife District Council. R Murdoch 1994

NO 533 018 The outlines of all nine panhouses were revealed when the overlying topsoil and deep deposits of rubble and other debris were removed by tracked, mechanical excavators operating under the archaeological supervision of Scotia Archaeology Ltd. At the excavated level, only minor variations were evident between the buildings, each of which measured approximately 15 x 9m. The interior of the best-preserved panhouse was totally cleared of debris and will be displayed at a later date. At the back of this building was a coal chute which led into the rear of the fore-chamber whose floor was partially flagged. The flags extended into the curved, brick-lined passage through which coal was transferred to the pan-chamber. At the S end of the passage was a doorway with checks, probably for a shutter. The dwarf walls (sieges) used to support the brine pan had survived reasonably well. Sponsor: Fife Regional Council R Murdoch 1996.

References CFA (1993 l) 'St Monance salt pans (St Monance parish): resistivity survey: waggon-way and workers' cottages', Discovery Excav Scot, 1993, 31-2, Lewis, J H (1985 b) 'St Monance (St Monance p), salt pans', Discovery Excav Scot, 1985, 16, Lewis, J (1990 h) 'The excavation of an 18th-century salt-pan at St Monance, Fife', Proc Soc Antiq Scot, 119, 1989, Martin, C [J M] (1979 a) 'St Monans (Monans p), salt workings', Discovery Excav Scot, 1979, 10, no.53, Murdoch, R (1994 d) 'St Monans saltpans (St Monance parish)', Discovery Excav Scot, 1994, 21, Murdoch, R (1996 c) 'St Monance Saltworks (St Monance parish), panhouses', Discovery Excav Scot, 1996, 52, Whatley, C A (1987 ) The Scottish salt industry 1570-1850: an economic and social history, Aberdeen, 5, 25-6, 76, 89, 90, 105.

ShoreUPDATE May2017: Coastal defence has failed in front of easternmost panhouse, and is beginning to fail in the mid section of coast edge. Deposits are freshly eroded and new material revealed.

Management Information
How visible are the remains? (above ground):
limited visibility (partial remains)
How visible are the remains? (in section):
limited visibility in section
How accessibile is the site?:
accessible on foot (footpath)
The site is:
is well known; is well visited; has local associations/history
Comments and recommendations
Recommendations:

The site has been excavated relating to it's conservation and interpretation, along with the wind engine, in the mid 1990s. However, the excavations were limited in scope and this rare example of a relatively well-preserved salt pan site is undergoing significant erosion due to failure of the coastal defence. New deposits and structures are being revealed and lost as a result of erosion. The easternmost panhouse is actively eroding and at risk. Reassign Priority 2.