Rebuilding the past

Well it has been coming, I’ve felt a dull acre in my bones – some far way light I just have to move towards.   After a 6 months break I’ve started my historical research again..  For those of you who are not aware I researching the routes of pre historic salt ways (in England that is usually seen as pre 43 AD or CE)

Saltby Pre Iron Age

I’m currently looking at a small village in the north east of Leicestershire called Saltby.  The reason for my interest is the name which would indicate that there was some sort of connection with Salt but that is unknown.    The village has a mineral spring which some have taken to be the source of the Salt element in the name.   However, when you examine this you very quickly realise that whilst the spring has a ‘salt’ element it has nothing to do with Sodium Chloride so this is unlikely to be the source of the name.

Instead I believe it sits on an undiscovered salt route from the Lincolnshire fens and I have been trying to prove this.  To do this I’ve been trying to rebuild the prehistoric landscape by looking at geographical and topological features,  examing the archaeological record  and then plotting them on a map.

Saltby Heath from Bing


I also look at the available air photography, which we are now blessed with a unrivalled supply.  This image is from Bing because it really shows the crop marks up that run village towards the village of Wyville.  The archaeological records mention these features but doesn’t really give any explanation as to what they are.  However, from examining the information I suspect that this are drove tracks for animals to be taken off of the heath, which being on top of porous rocks is very dry.

Once you’ve done all this you then have to look at the bigger picture and then  try to work out how this fits into the hypothesis you are working on at the moment.  It takes time and, in truth, you’ll never have the full answer because we talking about over 2000 years ago and no matter how much you think you know you know very little.  However, it can be really absorbing and hours just seem to disappear.

About Guthlac

An artist, historian and middle aged man who'se aim in life is to try and enjoy as much of it as he can
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3 Responses to Rebuilding the past

  1. Jim Dewhirst says:

    I’m trying to research a village called Southowram near Halifax.
    My 18th – 19th century family all lived there.
    Where do I start ?

  2. jimmidee7919 says:

    I’m trying to research a small hamlet near Halifax called Southowram.
    My family all originate from there.
    Where do I start ?

  3. Guthlac says:


    Thanks for this. Let me say at the outset that I’m not a genealogist so I have no real idea about that. However, as for the village itself the first place to start is google. You will be surprised what information you might pick up. I’ve just done that and there would already appear to be a Wiki page on the village

    After this look in the Domesday book. Whilst much of Yorkshire was wasted by William I believe they still listed the settlements. The Domesday book is usually the earliest record of most settlements in England and will give you a good picture as to what the size of the settlement was before William arrived at least.

    Beyond that, if you are able visit the local library and see what the local history section will hold.

    That should be enough to be going on with.

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