Alfred Watkins and Salt Leys

  • 16 Jan 2012
  • Old Roads
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Alfred Watkins, famous for his book 'The Old Straight Track' and Ley Lines, gave a lecture to the Woolhope Society in 1922, at which he put forward the view that place-names containing 'White' or a corruption of White, pointed to ancient salt roads or leys.

Salt Leys through Herefordshire came from Droitwich by way of White House, Suckley, Tupsley, Hoggs Mount, Hereford, and on its terminal on Mynydd Ferddin Hill, through Whitfield Mansion. Another salt ley passes through Henwick and Rushwick, Worcester, over Storridge, passing through Whitman's Wood, and ultimately gets to White Castle, (Mon), passing over the White Rocks at Garway. Similar leys pass through such places as Saltmarsh Castle, Whitewell House, the two White Crosses, Whitcliffe, Whiteway Head, the Wyche pass over the Malverns.

It was clear, he maintained, that the 'white man' carried salt; the 'black man' was a smith who worked in iron with charcoal, while a 'red man' was an itinerant potter. It was an obvious fact that places were named where a particular trade or commodity could be found. Trees were at one time called 'stock' - hence places like Stockton.