Information about Salt Routes in Cheshire and Trent Valley, England

Simon Marchini (SimonMarchini@MSN.COM)
Sun, 26 May 1996 21:33:25 UT

Outlined below is an extract from a paper I am producing on this matter.  What
I would like to know is there anyone with any specific information which might
link the Salt trade routes along the Trent valley and Cheshire.  I suspect
that there was such a route - however, I have not been able to establish any
firm information.

For your information Measham is situated in the West of Leicestershire.  It is
equidistant between the important Mercian sites of Tamworth, Lichfield, Repton
and Breedon on the Hill.  The salt routes outlined in this extract were in
existence by the Mercian period - and may well have been developed by the
The places mentioned in the extract are small villages in the Mease/Tame/Trent
Valley area.

I look forward to anybody's comments and help.

Simon Marchini

Salt Trade Routes

Placing Measham in it's wider context is not easy, however, from research of
relative materials the following picture develops.  Through the dark ages a
number of trading routes may have developed between the villages of the Mease
Valley and West Leicestershire. These routes may have been ' Salt Ways..'
There were at least three of these ways through the Mease valley area.  They

Walton Way

This ran from Walton on Trent, Coton in the Elms, Grangewood, Seal, Acresford,
Measham.  The evidence for this is:
The road from Measham to Walton is known as the Walton Way;
This road crosses a brook just to the west of Measham.  This brook and area is
known as Saltersford;
Whilst this road is now predominantly country lanes it was made into a
turnpike in 1833;
There is a connection between Seal and in Ridware as one of the major
landowners in the late 1200th century has major land interests in Seal.

 Salt Street

This ran from Salter's Bridge crossing of the River Tame near Alrewas, through
Edingale, Harlaston, Haunton, Clifton Campville, No Man's Heath, Twycross,
Sheepy Magna.

The evidence for this is that part of this road as follows:

Salter's Bridge
Salt Street name between No Man's Heath and Twycross
The turnpike road between Twycross and Sheepy Magna. (Though this probably was
turned into a turnpike because of the traffic between the coal field around
Measham and the North Warwick coalfield Nichols writing in 1804 bemouns the
fact that the turnpike goes towards Sheepy from Twycross and not towards
Nuneaton.   This may indicate that the traffic always went that way)


The third of these roads  ran from Harlaston, Portway, Wigginton to Tamworth.

The evidence for this is as follows:

The name of the road and village of Portway
A long passage in Nichols describing this road as such.

The establishment of a long standing trade route through Measham would also
fit into the known history of the village.  By c1300 AD  a market has been
established at Measham.  Also an assize court sat there.  This would make
sense for a major trading route for an essential commodity to pass through
area.   This would then reinforce the evidence to support the Walton Way as a
salt way into the heart of west Leicestershire.

Implications for the Salt Trade

These salt routes into West Leicestershire would seem to indicate that the
source of salt for this area would come from Cheshire.   The other known
source of salt at this time were sea salt and salt industry at Droitwich.
Neither of these would appear to be likely candidates for the source of the
salt; the first is too far away and the second would not use the Salt Ways to
get to Measham.  The routes of the salt ways points towards the Trent and from
there by implication towards Chester.

By the norman period of history there would also be a political motive to
believe that the salt came from Cheshire as much of the Repton Wapentake, into
which Measham fell, was controlled by the earls of Chester.  It would seem
unlikely that they would allow salt into their captive markets which they did
not get fee from as they  gained considerable income from the Cheshire salt

Measham and the west of Leicestershire must have formed the furthest point of
the Cheshire salt market as in the east of Leicestershire there are several
Salt Ways which would seem to indicate that they came from the salt industry
of the Lincolnshire cost.  The consequence of this might have been that the
salt from Cheshire may have supplied much of west Leicestershire up to the
Soar valley.  The eastern part of Leicestershire would have been supplied from
the east coast.   Interestingly this also fits the known political spheres of
influence as set out in the 1148 treaty between the earls of Chester and
Leicester.  Perhaps this is why the earl of Leicester agreed to destroy the
castle at Ravenstone as it threatened the Chester's salt trade coming into
west of Leicestershire