According to legend, salt was first manufactured in Maldon nearly two thousand years ago by slaves of one Casius Petrox, commander of a Roman legion billeted near the town. The fog, damp and icy winds which swept across the open marshes to his camp were a great discomfort to a man used to the sunnier climates of Italy and caused his bones to ache. His only relief was to bathe in a bath of hot sea water prepared by slaves at the end of each day.
On one occasion, his return to camp was delayed and the slaves, fearful of punishment for not having the bath ready, kept the fire burning. As a result, the water was near to boiling so they still did not avoid their master's wrath. However, his temper calmed a little when Casius noticed small white crystals at the bottom of the bath - his slaves had inadvertently discovered a method of producing salt from sea water. Anger turned to praise after Casius sent samples to his brother officers who asked for more. Demand increased so the slaves made more and more salt and the commander resigned his commission to devote his energies to salt making.