Crosscanonby – Saltpans
Location : Crosscanonby
Grid Ref : NY 067401
Just south of Allonby, located on Hadrian’s Cycleway, are Roman Milefortlet 21 and the Saltpans of Crosscanonby.
This site is the remains of the Elizabethan salt pans. For nearly 700 years, salt was made from seawater along the Cumbrian coast, and the Crosscanonby site is a remarkably well-preserved example of this tradition.
The large, circular, elevated structure is the sleech pit or kinch. The wall is cobble built with a clay infill. In use, it was clay-lined and the floor covered with reeds acting as a filter. Salt laden sand was gathered from the shore in a horse-drawn rake called a hap.
In the church of St John the Evangelist at Crosscanonby, you can see the tomb of local salt tax officer John Smith, who died in 1730. The tomb has an unusual panel showing the salt officer working at his desk.
Milefortlet 21, the first total excavation of a milefortlet, and a designated World Heritage Site, reveals a wealth of information about the lifestyle of Roman troops in Britain.
Find out more about the Saltpans from Cumbria Coast Salt Industry.
There is a car park beside the coast road, and a viewing platform for the fort.
The fortlet is part of the Roman fortifications between Maryport and Bowness-on-Solaway, the western end of Hadrian’s Wall, though no wall was built down the west coast.