A SECTION of a 700-year-old oak tree discovered under an area of Nantwich soil excited archaeologists, museum officials, and others – with good reason – back in 2004. For this was an ancient salt ship – or vessel in which brine (salt suspended in water) was stored as part of the salt-producing process. (It was not a sailing craft).
Clearly, as a wooden utensil it could not be used to boil the brine! That was done in pans.
The ship was found under land on which houses once stood. After the initial discovery it was reburied while a Lottery grant was applied for. Thanks to Cheshire County Council that bid was successful and the Heritage Lottery Fund provided £100,000 for the painstaking project to save the salt ship for posterity.
The medieval salt ship was taken from the ground in January 2004 at the start of a two-year preservation project.
Six barrels which had the same purpose were also unearthed, but it was not possible to save the fragile structures. ONE section of the salt ship (sadly, just a third) found in Nantwich is on display in our second gallery.
Call in to see it – and to SMELL the Nantwich mud in which the ship lay buried!
Mirrors help you to see the salt ship from all angles, and there are photographs and other displays which tell the story of the rescue and preservation mission. There is also a display of artefacts found with the salt ship.
In addition, on sale in the Museum Shop is a video called “Ship Ahoy – The Raising of the Nantwich Salt Ship” which tells the story of our top exhibit