Below the Salt is a 1972 album by Steeleye Span, and considered by many fans to be one of their best. The album has a slightly medieval theme, most notably in the artwork and title. The album cover shows the band in period costume at a feast, while the title refers to practice in the Middle Ages of placing salt (something of a rarity) in the centre of the table separating the family from the servants, who were situated "below the salt". Also on the cover, Kemp carries a child on his back, but it is unknown who that child is, and whether or not he is a son of either member of the band. Some of the music on the album has a medieval motif, but only a few of the songs arguably date back quite so far. The ballad "King Henry" (Child Ballad 32), and the a cappella "Gaudete" are certainly very old, and the lyrics to "Royal Forester" date from 1293. However, while "Gaudete" is performed in an authentic style, electric guitars abound in the performance of "King Henry".
Gaudete became the band's first hit, reaching number 14 on the UK charts. To give the impression of the choristers approaching and then moving away, as if on a pilgrimage, the song was given a long fade-in and -out on the album. The single release, however, featured no fade.
By this point, Ashley Hutchings had left the band, leaving Maddy Prior and Tim Hart as the only remaining founding members. The album reached number 43 in the UK album charts.