Monday 29 December 2008

Replica Pots for Christmas....what else?

I am guessing that all the people who ordered from me, replica pots for their loved ones, will by now have given them so that I can now reveal a couple of my favourites. Firstly I there's this replica of a Bronze Age food vessel excavated from the Bawearie Cairns at Old Bewick, Northumberland, by Canon William Greenwell in 1866, which I made for one of the Archaeologists involved in the More recent excavations of the same cairns. The original pot is in the British Museum.

Then there is this replica of a Neolithic, Mortlake Bowl made for another Archaeologist:

This one is decorated using a whipped cord tool to produce what are known as "maggot marks". Both have been open fired in a "bonfire" firing just as their archetypes would have been.

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Tuesday 23 December 2008

Mediaeval Pottery Kiln at Shotton

A few days ago I was invited to visit the archaeological excavation of a pottery production site at Shotton, to the north of Newcastle upon Tyne. This site is sceduled for surface coal extraction by Banks Development and has been excaveted in advance of this by Tyne and Wear Museums. What they have found is a small medieval settlement with evidence of pottery production including a kiln and clay extraction pits. The whole site is on solid clay a fact that has made the conditions in the trenches less than pleasant. As you can see in this photograph of the kiln mud and ice were the order of the day but they were kind enough to remove the ice and pump out the water so that I could inspect it. These conditions suggest that some of the post holes around the kiln must surely have been supports for a roof, otherwise the kiln would have been inoperable during most of the year.

I have taken clay samples from the site with the intention of firing them under an assortment of different firing conditions so that they can be compared with the potsherds from the excavation.

Sunday 21 December 2008

Roman Replicas for Nottingham University

Over the next few weeks I will be making a collection of Replica Roman Pottery for the Archaeology Museum at the University of Nottingham. Most of the pieces will be from the Margidunum site Excavated by Felix Oswald. This will include head pots, mortaria, goddess figures, cooking pots, Samian ware and much more. Various different types of firing will be involved from fully oxidised red wares through greyware to heavy reduction for the blackwares.

A great little head pot from Margidunum.

One of the things that I love about working on a project like this is the opportunity to handle the original aretefacts and in doing so to place my hands in the impressions left by a fellow potter thousands of years ago. In the picture below you can actually see his/her fingerprints.

Watch this blog for more information on this project.

Saturday 20 December 2008

Roman Pottery at Newcastle YAC

I spent today working with a great group of young people at the Newcastle branch of the Young Archaeologists' Club (YAC). The theme for todays meeting was the Romans, so we looked at various pieces from my handling collection of replicas and then I gave them a demonstration of throwing on a stick wheel. These youngsters showed a great deal of enthusiasm and posed some very intelligent questions. The participants then each made a small moulded Roman figure to take home before indulging in a fantastic Roman Feast (Great food!). Dr Jane Webster of Newcastle University and Dr Rob Young of English Heritage who run this YAC group along with a few helpers are obviousl doing a great job, long may it continue. Thanks for inviting me and I hope that you'll invite me back sometime soon.
Throwing on the stick wheel (photo by Ken Lister)

Friday 19 December 2008

Prehistoric firing

Last week you'd have found me bent over a small fire in the corner of a Northumbrian field, replicating the firing techniques of the Neolithic in order to complete several commissions before Christmas. I've had several orders this year from the partners of archaeologists wanting replicas of pieces that their loved ones had been instrumental in excavating or that had come from Archaeological site in which they had an interest. So several new beakers, food vessels, Mortlake and Fengate bowls have come into existence thousands of years after the originals upon which they were based.