Saturday 6 November 2010

Roman Sunken Kiln Under Construction

I can't believe that it has been so long since I've recorded my work here, it's been a very busy summer so there's lots of catching up to do, but I'll get to that over the winter.

Over the past couple of days I've been building a sunken type Roman kiln for my own use not far from my workshop.  The site was kindly offered by retired potter (I'm not sure that such a thing exists) Alastair Hardie & his wife Kate at Westfield Farm, Thropton Northumberland.  It is situated at the rear of the farm on a raised sand bank about two meters above the flood plain of the Wreigh Burn.  The ground consisted of about 50cm of compacted soil and building rubble, the residue of the concrete floor of an agricultural building which once stood on the site, over natural compacted sand.  This has proved to be an ideal situation, the compacted surface gives strength to the structure while the sand is relatively easy to work and provides a very well drained base for the kiln.

Although I was working alone, the digging of the ware chamber, stoking pit and fire box and the lining of the latter with ceramic brick took less than eight hours.  For the sake of speed I have used some recycled fire brick in the lining of the firebox.  This is the area of the kiln that most archaeologists would refer to as a flue, this is an incorrect use of the term, as the function of a flue is only to carry gasses from one part of a kiln or furnace to another, as in 'exit flue' which as the name suggests carries waste gasses out of the kiln.  The firebox by contrast is where the fuel is burned.  

Today I'll be setting the floor, again for the sake of speed, using modern refractory but I may replace this later for experimental purposes.  I'll report back later today.

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