To answer the famous question posed by actor John Cleese, the Romans were the first to properly exploit the beds of pure rock salt lying 200ft below Droitwich. The salt rose naturally to the surface in brine springs around what is now Vines Park.
The Romans called the town Salinae, meaning salt workings, and used the adjacent River Salwarpe to transport the precious preservative to other settlements. ‘Saltways’ also spread out from Droitwich across the country. They built a fort on Dodderhill and two villas in the Bays Meadow area below.
Excavations revealed one of the villas had 18 rooms – some decorated with colourful mosaics – and underfloor heating. It was destroyed in a fire, perhaps an indication of anti-Roman feeling locally.