Dig finds 2,000-year-old salting site at Willow Tree Fen

Hundreds of artefacts have been unearthed at a 2,000-year-old salt making site on the Lincolnshire fens.

Pottery, hair pins and tools were found during a two-week dig at Willow Tree Fen, near Bourne.

Archaeologist David Trimble said the full story of salt production at the site had been unravelled.

Experts were invited to carry out excavations by Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust prior to the area being turned into a nature reserve.

Essential in 25AD

Two thousand years ago the fens would have looked very different, with tidal creeks running far inland, experts said.

Mr Trimble, the site's project manager, said: "Salt making was fairly common on a small scale on the Lincolnshire coast.

"Each village community might be going out on to the salt marsh and making a bit of their own," he said.

Seawater would have been collected in ceramic pans and boiled, leaving behind the salt.

The community who settled on the site in 25AD would have used salt in their diet, for preserving meat and for trading for food and goods.

Remnants of the salt making process found at the dig at Willow Tree Fen will be analysed before being given to a local museum.

The site is to become part of a 114-hectare nature reserve attracting wildlife such as wading birds and dragonflies.

Marcus Craythorne, from Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, said: "My primary concern is what's happening on the surface, establishing the grassland habitat to bring in the wildlife, but to go down just a foot and travel back 2,000 years is really interesting."

The archaeologists' finding and the story of the site will be to be told in an interpretation centre at Willow Tree Fen.

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