I have just had the most fantastic and exhausting day at SWARCH. I worked with the pottery expert all day, it was suggested that I should sort the finds alongside Graham Langman , I was told to put them into four piles: roof tile, floor tile, pottery and slate kiln shelf, I added a bone pile and a don’t know pile! It was a bit of a test to see if I knew anything and thankfully I picked it up really quickly.
A lot of the pottery we were sorting through comes under the category of Coarse Ware. It is often the fabric of the clay which determines the date, the more black and rough it looks the more likely it is to be old. Another term used was gravel tempered: using mica, quartz or calcareous material (crushed shell) to strengthen the ware. There was also gravel free ware which was finer more refined and more likely to be later.
During the day we found a great deal of evidence to suggest that there had been a pottery on this site. Apart from what the team had found during the dig which was a pit full of pottery that was at one end of a clay seam (already strong evidence of pottery production). The strongest piece of evidence was finding parts of a saggar, these would have been used to protect more delicate items such as cups. There were also pieces which looking like kiln fabric, kiln wasters including warped pieces which had been very overfired and the slate which was covered in glaze indicating that it had been used as a kiln shelf.
These are just a few images of the numerous boxes that we sorted. Image 1 is a general view, 2 shows a part from a cider jar, an overfired piece of clay and a cup handle, 3 shows the bottom of a floor tile the 4/5 scoops indicate that it could be medieval, 4 is of roof tiles (some jug handles also have these marks which look decorative but are actually to reduce thermal shock, 5 more cider jars and glaze colours, 6 handle styles, 7 interesting pattern possibly 15th century also the glaze is more dry and I was told that this was due to flour being added to the glaze however this happened around 1510, 8 more applied decoration and handles, 9 and 10 show a late 13th early 14th century inlayed floor tile, a very beautiful and exciting find, 11 pieces of saggar, 12 various handles applied and stamped patterns, 13 there was some discussion as to the origin of this mark, I later found an image of it in a book on Tudor pottery which I found at Corsham.
I also discovered that the fireman was paid the most because if he got the firing wrong no-one would be paid!