Salt has been used to preserve and flavour food for thousands of years.
The sea is virtually a never-ending supply of salt, which is gathered by allowing seawater to evaporate in shallow pools. Salt was produced in this way at Salthouse, situated at Port Eynon overlooking the bay. It was once thought that the building got its name because the salt water washed up against it.
The ruins of this building are now a scheduled ancient monument and a reminder of the local industry that once thrived here. A salthouse was first recorded at Port Eynon in the late 16th century. The main building that you can see today was occupied, whilst the salt production took place in three large chambers on the beach.
Seawater was stored in reservoirs to allow sand and other impurities to settle to the bottom. The seawater would then be taken by a wooden suction pump to large shallow pans. Here it would be heated using coal power to evaporate off the water. The salt was then stored in wooden baskets in the main building to dry.
It wasn’t until the 18th century that this process became widespread, making Salthouse a rare example of the early salt-making industry. It is thought that the Salthouse was built for John Lucas and his wife by his father, David.
The Lucas family had a long and distinguished history of living in Gower, spanning over 500 years. George Lucas famously fought for King Charles I during the Civil War in the 17th century before Oliver Cromwell ordered his execution.
The Lucas family left Salthouse around 1700 and made Great House in Horton their main residence. The Salthouse continued to be occupied as oyster-fishermen’s cottages until around 1880.