Images of the excavation site at Brora

The site of the Old Salt House (1598-1617)



Lady Jean Gordon, Countess of Sutherland, established the first salt pans in Brora in 1598. In 1618, there is a reference to the iron of the pans being sold, probably to help pay off Estate debts following the death of her son John the 12th Earl in 1616. The site of Jean’s ‘Old Salt House’ is marked on John Farey’s 1813 Mineral Map of the Coal Field at and near Brora.

Bit by bit, the results of excavations in 2004, 2007 and 2010 have opened up a window into the character of Brora’s earliest industrial buildings and their builders and workers. The evidence, so far, reveals that the Old Salt House comprised two very large stone buildings. The largest of these, almost certainly the pan house, was located at beach level, close to the supply of sea water. Almost nothing of this building now survives, but until relatively recently, the remains of its back wall, known as the ‘long wall’ was a feature of Brora’s Back Beach. A second eroding building, currently under excavation, is located very nearby but higher up in the dunes. This may have functioned as the storehouse and offices for the early salt pans.

Use the links above to find out more about the site of Jean Gordon’s salt pans.

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