Mon, 10 May 2004 17:11:20 -0400
Links: Medieval and Renaissance Jugs and Pitchers

Greetings Gentle Readers!

When you sit down to table at feast, what's on your table? Many of us try very hard to have medieval-style mugs, plates, and even historical-style silverware (so to speak) at hand. Candles and lanterns make a lovely atmosphere. However, when the drink is served, what is that drinks container made of? How is it shaped? What is it's color? From what period of history does it hail? Too often, this is where we really fall down on the re-creation job. Not all containers are made the same, and most modern shapes aren't quite right.

The subject of this week's Links List is Medieval Jugs, Pitchers, and the like. With luck, this Links List will inspire you to go out and find a more historical container (or one that resembles a more historical container) for your table and for your group's serving purposes. Many historical jugs were not only meant for pouring but also for drinking. Of course, what that container actually contains is not the subject of THIS Links List, but could easily pop up in future lists....

As always, please send this Links List along to anyone who would find it interesting (I espescially like the Face Jugs and Puzzle Jugs, myself), and use it to update your own web pages.


Dame Aoife Finn of Ynos Mon
modernly known as Lisbeth Herr-Gelatt

German Medieval Face Jug (photos, description)

Freeblown Roman Glass Bottle circa. 200 AD (photos, description)

European Bellarmine Stoneware Jug circa. 1650
page 2
page 3

Spoilheap Archaeology: What can we learn from broken pottery?
(Site Excerpt) There is a large amount of archaeological evidence for the pottery industry from the Middle Saxon period onwards, in the form of products and production sites. The main requirements of the industry were: raw materials: large supply of clay and sand, some water, and fuel (wood), a well drained working area with easy access to roads or water transport. This means that production sites were generally situated on clay subsoils near woodland in rural areas.

Bartmann Jug, c. 1600
(Site Excerpt) Made in Frechen, Germany, saltglazed stoneware vessels such as this jug were produced and exported in great quantities to fulfill England's stoneware needs. England succeeded in establishing her own stoneware industry in the 1680s. The jugs are known as Bartmann or "bearded man" for the bewhiskered face that adorns the neck.

The Bearded Man Bottle of Skriduklaustur
(Site Excerpt) "This type of pottery comes mainly from potters in Germany, and then primarily from Raeren near Aix-la-Chapelle, Frechen and Siegburg near Cologne, H?hr and Grenshausen near Coblenz, and Creussen in Bavaria. In the beginning of the 16th century potters in these towns made the face jugs with brown salt glaze. As well at that time, the faces took a decided change to show the wrinkled face of a bearded man who is good-natured when the jug is upright, and beetlebrowed and grimacing evilly with hair standing on end when the jug is turned upside-down." (Note: The author of this page said, in a private e-mail, "Due to the finding of that jug and some test excavations, the old monastery area at Skriduklaustur has had an archeological dig going on for two summers now, and will head into its third summer this July."

Shaft-and-Globe Utility Glass Bottle c.1630-50

Stefan's Florilegium -- Medieval Pottery and Kilns
(Site Excerpt) One of them is marvelous--it's a period Italian potters' manual! It's very detailed, so it's perfect for majolica info. A friend of mine found out about it and got it through ILL. Once I find them again--it may be...
That would be "Tre Libri dell'Arte del Vasaio (The Three Books of the Potter's Art)" by Cipriano Piccolpasso? Cool stuff! I've got a copy of the Scholar Press (ISBN 0 85967 452 5) facsimile set. One of the translators, Alan Caiger-Smith, has another couple of books out that you should find really interesting, if you haven't already seen them- "Tin Glazed Pottery", Faber & Faber Ltd, London, 1973, and one on lustre ware.

Two Medieval London-type jugs from Longmarket
John Cotter
(Site Excerpt) Two of the most significant medieval pots found on the Longmarket site are the subject of this note. Both are of considerable interest and beauty and although broken they are remarkable for their state of completeness and preservation. The reason for their excellent condition is that both vessels were thrown to the bottom of two separate cess-pits or latrines where they lay undisturbed for the next seven centuries.

Early 14th Century Balluster Jug (Acrobat Reader required)

Medieval Jug Construction
A How-to site with basic information. Click on one of the photos to go to the article indicated. See espescially the bibliography page at:

Medieval pottery jug from Cardiff
Photo of remarkable jug and brief commentary.

Medieval and Renaissance Eating Utensils and "Feast Gear"
An excellent article---too good to quote just one piece here, but please do read it and click on all the links to extant examples. Much information about all types of feast gear including jugs and bottles.

2000 years of pottery forms and shapes
Early Saxon AD 350 - 650 : Sandy ware bottle
This page from Potweb contains a photo and brief description. See also the Stamfordware spouted pitcher: and other excellent examples on the website.

Paris: Glazed Ceramic Jug (site is in French)

Discovering Dante's Damsel in Distress
Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News
(Site Excerpt) Dec. 1, 2003 - A 14th century jug unearthed in a Tuscan castle might shed new light on one of the most touching and mysterious female figures in Dante's Divine Comedy, according to Italian archaeologists.Legend has always linked Castel di Pietra, a castle near the village of Gavorrano in the Tuscan Maremma, with the sad fate of Pia dei Tolomei, a lady supposedly imprisoned there and then murdered by her jealous husband

Gaston Phoebus: Hunters pausing
Click on the photo to enlarge. Note the use of Costrels (ceramic canteens, which are rarely found extant, archaeologically speaking---go to potweb (linked above) to find a rare example of a medieval costrel).

A series of drinking jugs of Raeren stoneware
(Site Excerpt) At the end of the 15th century the manner in which food and drink were served at table in Exeter households, as in much of England, underwent great changes. An element in these changes was the adoption of individual drinking pots, replacing the medieval practices of communal drinking and the use of wooden cups. Much of the new demand for drinking pots was supplied by the importation of salt-glazed stonewares from Belgium and the Rhineland. The most important source of such wares throughout England was the potting town of Raeren in eastern Belgium.

A stoneware jug from Siegburg
(Site Excerpt) With its hard off-white fabric and patches of ash glaze, the vessel is one of the few complete examples of the late medieval stoneware made at Siegburg in the central Rhineland ever found in Britain. It is datable to the late 15th century or the beginning of the 16th.

The Exeter Puzzle Jug - Interactive Spin
(Site Excerpt) Made in the Saintonge, western France, c. 1300, this is among the most celebrated examples of medieval pottery found in Britain. It was discovered in fragments in South Street, Exeter, in 1899. The jug shows a
tower in which are two bishops (with croziers); young ladies disport themselves from its windows and musicians play below. The scene points fun at the morals of the medieval clergy. (Note: and interactive section is slow to load but will show the jug at various angles. The "Puzzle" is to figure out how to drink from it---since it's sides are pierced...Several medieval puzzle jugs exist. Another is located at the potweb site: ).

Medieval Pottery Links:
Nearly 100 links to medieval pottery web-pages are provided on this page.

1911 Encyclopedia--JUG
(Site Excerpt) JUG, a vessel for holding liquid, usually with one handle and a lip, made of earthenware, glass or metal. The origin of the word in this sense is uncertain, but it is probably identical with a shortened form of the feminine name Joan or Joanna; cf. the similar use of Jack and Jill or Gill for a drinking-vessel or a liquor measure. It has also been used as a common expression for a homely woman, a servant-girl, a sweetheart, sometimes in a sense of disparagement. In slang, jug or stone-jug is used to denote a prison; this may possibly be an adaptation of Fr. joug, yoke, Lat.jugum. The word jugis probably onomatopoeic when used to represent a particular note of the nightingales song, or applied locally to various small birds, as the hedge-jug, &c.

French pottery in medieval Wales
By Dr Mark Redknap, National Museums & Galleries of Wales Published: 8 March 2004
(Site Excerpt) Elegant forms and decoration are distinctive features of pottery imported from south-west France in the wake of Edward I's armies. Thanks to the careful restoration of broken vessels we can enjoy this beautiful tableware today.

Museum of London: Medieval Jug

A Vessel for everyman and his family
(Site Excerpt) Ceramic forms can be classified according to shape or profile. There is considerable variety in size and height and therefore in capacity. The site of the New Bodleian, Oxford included tall, closed vessels where the diameter of both the opening and the maximum girth are smaller than the overall height; these are defined as jugs for serving and standing at table....

In Their Cups - The Story of the English Puzzle Mug
by Delia Robinson (Ceramics Today)
(Site Excerpt) Unless held to the mouth in exactly the right way, a Puzzle Mug would spill beer down the drinkers shirt. This was a big hit with the tavern crowd. The mugs were designed with multiple dribble holes and tunnels inside the handle and cup rim, the handle or walls connected to a drinking spout at the lip of the cup. This would allow the drinker to suck up his beverage, providing his fingers covered the right combination of false drinking spouts also placed around the cup lip. If he attempted drinking from the cup in the customary fashion, the beverage would pour out through perforations carved just under the lip. As the evening progressed into a rowdy uproar, finding the safe spot from which to drink would become increasingly chancy, providing merriment for all.

Lastly, from , a list of drinking vessels and their historical names:
.. Piggin-from the middle ages, a small leather cup
.. Noggin-small wooden mug around 1/4 pint
.. Goddard-pewter vessel used by the church
.. Bombard-tall, holding several gallons, richly decorated
.. Hanap-a tall, ornate largely ornamental vessel, eventually only used on special occasions and stored in a hanaps basket, hence a hamper
.. Tappit-Hen or Stirrup Cup-A tankard with a cup shaped lid originating in Scotland, used to send off guests late at night with a final brew, the lid keeping the brew safe when the guests departed on horseback.
.. Fuddling cup-vessel with three or more small cups with interlinked handles and joined through a small hole in the walls, the idea was to drink from one cup without spilling the contents of the others.
.. Whistle cup-From the Middle ages, whoever could drink the most for the longest got to blow the whistle as the 'last man standing' to order more drink.
.. Puzzle jug-Jug with many holes around the neck which have to be closed with fingers and thumbs to make sure you can drink from the top.
.. Yard glass-traditionally a quart measure from the mid 1600's with a bulb at one end which had to be drunk without taking it from ones lips
........(note: there's more, but we've run out of room to list them all :)