Experimental Pottery Making Project

The Second Phase of our Experiments. September 2020

At last we are able to fire the second batch of pots made by Jennifer, from a number of different clays gathered from within the old manor of Chewton Mendip.

This is part two of our Experimental Pottery Making Project, where we are trying to replicate the pottery we find on the dig dating to Saxon and Medieval times.

Jennifer had been very busy over the winter making various pots in the traditional medieval way.This time all the pots she made had no added inclusions and were made without the use of a slow wheel.

Without using added inclusions we knew it most likely that most of the pots would not survive the firing, but we had to prove the point! However, three pots did come through it more or less intact. Next time we shall use some of the same clays that didn't survive, but add various inclusions before firing. We will then know which clays have potential and which are just useless whatever the case.

Here are some photos of the afternoon's event

The pots before firing. Note the colours of the different clays from around Chewton

During the firing process, which only takes about 45 minutes.

The three surviving pots albeit with cracks. These were from the Dig field clays or mixed with the Alluvial clays from the valley bottom. They have the most naturally occurring inclusions of all the clays we used.

The First Phase of the Project in 2018

Below are some photos of the first phase of the project in December 2018 when we made 10 pots from local clays and fired them in a bonfire. We then broke some of them and compared them with the pottery sherds we have been finding on the dig site. We have a match in Type 18, but remarkably we don't have any others. This is one of the reasons for widening our sources of clay to various sites around the old Manor of Chewton.

Firing of pots in progress

Fired pots in the embers. Most still intact.

Bars after firing used to assess shrinkage

Successfully fired pots