Persistence and risk: salt production in post-medieval Ireland

Wes Forsythe, R McConkey, C Breen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
674 Downloads (Pure)


Salt was a common trading commodity in a post-medieval Europe of expanding horizons and populations. It was, however, expensive and laborious to produce in northern Europe and foreign supplies were vulnerable to disruption. Its importance was especially pronounced in countries such as Ireland, which failed to industrialize on the scale of Britain, and relied on its agricultural produce and exports. This paper explores the changing fortunes of salt in Ireland by examining a complex of sites at Ballycastle. In operation for three centuries, it was one of the more enduring and resilient sites of manufacture. The authors identify individual agency, innovation and legislation as key factors for its relative success. Conversely, the business was periodically jeopardized by social and political unrest, factionalism and incompetence. As part of the wider Atlantic world, Irish salt and salted provisions exploited emerging colonial networks of trade; however, these market forces perpetuated social inequalities with attendant risks to food security.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)603-619
Number of pages17
JournalWorld Archaeology
Issue number4
Early online date3 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 8 Aug 2018


  • post-medieval
  • salt
  • industry
  • Ireland
  • colonialism
  • Atlantic
  • economy
  • Archaeology
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'Persistence and risk: salt production in post-medieval Ireland'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this