Date: Sun Jan 5, 2003 10:28 pm
Subject: Links: Medieval and Renaissance Pottery

Greetings, all. Hope you all are enjoying a tad LESS snow than I have been these last few days. We've had just over 4 feet of snow the last two weeks, here in the northern extremes of Riverouge!

I'd like to extend my apologies up front to our cunning and patient list ministers for passing along this missive, which is sure to set off bounce-alarms due to length :)

This week's Links post is quite long and contains 51 active links regarding Medieval and Renaissance pottery/ceramics. It will be useful both for folks who collect pottery for dining or cooking purposes, and for those who wish to make such objects. Please pass these links along wherever they may find an interested audience and feel free to use them to update your own Links pages. As always I make no claims to the accuracy of the contents of the pages, but they looked good to me. YMMV.

I'd like to note that in the US there is a distinction between the words Ceramic and Pottery that apparently does not exist elsewhere in the world. Thus any of the webpages dedicated to "ceramics" do not necessarily mean the items were made from poured slip (liquid clay, in the US called ceramics), but were probably rather thrown or hand-shaped from solid clay (in the US called pottery).

Cheers, and a Happy New Year


Experiments in Early Medieval Pottery
(Site Excerpt) In Viking age North-western Europe ceramics were mostly made for local use, with only a few centres (notably in the Rhineland and England) producing high quality wares for export, though in many cases the export was incidental, as containers for trade goods such as wine. As a result there was much regional specificity in the shapes and quality of pottery. As an example, take Scandinavia, and the most common pottery vessel, the cooking pot. In Jutland the standard form was hemispherical, with the rim usually turned inwards (Fig. 1-a), a form existing prior to the Viking period. At the trading ports Hedeby and Ribe, and a few other West Jutish sites globular pots ('kugeltopf') with turned-out rims are found (Fig. 1-b), this is the characteristic 'North Sea' form originating in the Frisian area......

Medieval Pottery Construction
(Sie Excerpt from the Handles page) The most common handle on English medieval jugs is probably the 'pulled' handle. It is rapidly and easily made, and has the advantage of being stronger and less prone to failure than handles produced by other methods. Pulling, in effect, is a form of throwing. The action of stroking the clay re-aligns its plate-like particles
in the direction of pull, as in throwing the walls of a pot. This results in an overlapping configuration of platelets lying in the same plane, which allows the handle to be thinned without rupture.

Medieval Pottery from the Church Excavation at Portmahomack
(Site Excerpt) Grass-marked ware. This fabric is commonly recovered from excavations in the Northern Isles and is normally assigned an early medieval date (MacAskill 1982a, 405). Hand-made pottery very similar to this, known as craggan ware was being made as late as the 19th century in the West Highlands and the Hebrides, but is normally in identifiably modern forms such as cups and tea-pots (Quail 1979, 39).

Shards of the 15th century
Broken pieces of history under their feet
(Site Excerpt) While workmen have been busy restoring the college - where artists such as Clarice Cliff and Susie Cooper learned their trade - to its former glory, a team of archaeologists have been seeking treasures from the Mother Town's past. Large pottery bowls and jugs from the 1400s were uncovered when experts sifted through drains and trenches at the back of the school. It is the first time such strong evidence of large-scale pottery manufacturing from as far back as the 15th century has been found in Burslem. Historians have suspected pottery was being produced in Burslem a long time before it was officially documented- and they now have the proof in a find of pieces that were discarded at an ancient factory on the site.

Ancient Touch
An antiquities dealer with photos of medieval pottery, beads, etc.

Spoilheap Medieval Pottery
(Site Excerpt) Rural potteries probably only operated part-time and the potters were peasants who spent most of their time farming. It was a family industry, continuing through generations. Clay pits were usually dug quite close to the kiln, on the peasant's croft or common. However, in the Middle and Late Saxon period (mid-7th to 11th centuries), many potteries were based in towns.

Regia Anglorum Anglo-Saxon Pottery
(Site Excerpt) The British Isles has large and diverse areas of clay that are suitable to make pottery. Broadly speaking, the area diagonally south of York and down to Cheshire has in various places clay deposits that are close to the surface. This enabled people from much, much earlier times and up to the Viking period to dig clay for pottery without having to go too deep.
Clay is very heavy, and difficult to dig out. The rest of Britain by and large had to make do with 'costly' imports that could have come from a few miles down the road, or possibly several days travel away. Their only other alternatives were wooden vessels, or in other more remote areas, 'soft' soap-stone containers.

Potweb: Ceramics Online at the Ashmolean Museum
(Site Excerpt) The Ashmolean, Britain's oldest public museum, has one of the finest collections of ceramics in the world.Now the Museum is launching an ambitious and pioneering project for the twenty-first century - PotWeb - to create an online catalogue of the entire ceramic collection. The online catalogue will be fully illustrated and supported by a computerised database, bringing together the fruits of fifty years of historical and archaeological research. Together these resources will form the basis of a wider interactive educational package with supporting resource packs. A new interactive facility will also be made available within the Museum for visitors and researchers.

Medieval Pottery Research Group
(Site Excerpt) MPRG was founded in 1975 to bring together people with an interest in the pottery vessels that were made, traded, and used in Europe between the end of the Roman period and the 16th century. On these pages, you can find details of our publications and conferences, and other information such as how to join MPRG. (See also their Bibliography page at ).

Two Medieval London-type Jugs
(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.

Anglian Pottery in York
(Site Excerpt) Excavations at Fishergate unearthed traces of Anglian buildings and some of their internal fittings, including nails, keys, handles and wooden chest hinges. A range of domestic utensils, including iron knives, were recovered along with a few fine glass vessels, metal implements and, most commonly, pottery. Environmental evidence suggests that rushes were used either for roofing or strewn on the floor, perhaps both. Finds of counters of stone, bone and pot suggest that the inhabitants of Eoforwic were as fond of board games as their Roman predecessors or their Viking successors.

Kent Archaeological Society's Archeologica Cantiana
An archived digest of their publication online.

Corpus Middeleeuws Aardewerk (Medieval Ceramics of the Netherlands and Flanders)
(Site Excerpt: Note that this is a journal for subscribers) Ceramics from a cesspit belonging to the inn `De Drye Mooren' at Breda (1661-1663) The cesspit was discovered during the restoration of a Breda house called `De Drye Mooren' (The Three Moors). During the 17th century an inn was kept in the house, which was owned by the Breda Reformed Church and its `Table of the Holy Ghost' (poor relief) from 1626 to 1703.

Japanese Ceramics
(Site Excerpt) Japan has a rich tradition of designing, forming and firing some truly unique and artistically fulfilling ceramics. The earliest Japanese ceramics date back to the prehistoric Jomon ("cord marked") period which extended roughly from 10,500 to 300 BC. The early Jomon pieces are usually large, cone shaped cooking pots. They have pointed bodies and the outer surface of the pots are usually stamped or rolled with rope or cord patterns. These early pieces were formed by the coil method in which successive coils of clay were placed on each other. This created a thick, slightly irregular and highly built-up appearance. Firing took place in open pits or ditches and since the heat rarely exceed 700 degrees, the pots are low-fired ceramics or earthenware that are generally largely water-soluble.

MOAS Atlantia Pottery Links
An exhaustive list of links. Not necesarily up to date, many useful links and many broken ones.

A History of Pottery
(Site Excerpt) The production of pottery is one of the most ancient arts. The oldest known body of pottery dates from the Jomon period (from about 10,500 to 400 BC) in Japan; and even the earliest Jomon ceramics exhibit a unique sophistication of technique and design. Excavations in the Near East have revealed that primitive fired-clay vessels were made there more than 8,000 years ago. Potters were working in Iran by about 5500 BC, and earthenware was probably being produced even earlier on the Iranian high plateau. Chinese potters had developed characteristic techniques by about 5000 BC. In the New World many pre-Columbian American cultures developed highly artistic pottery traditions.

Williams College Excavations at Psalmodi, France
(Site Excerpt) The ceramic assemblage at Psalmodi includes a small number of sherds from the Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Early Roman periods. There is a large amount of Late Roman material as well as an excellent collection of Medieval and Early Modern wares. While most of the pottery at Psalmodi is local, imports are represented by African Red-Slip vessels, Amphoras, Medieval Spanish glazed wares and Italian products

Medieval Ceramic Industry of the Severn Valley
(Site Excerpt from an unpublished thesis) The subject of this thesis is the medieval ceramic industry of the Severn Valley. A large proportion of the ceramic artefacts used in the study region has been characterised by petrological analysis. This has involved the manufacture and study of over 1,200 thin-sections.

Museum of Medieval Tiles
(Site Excerpt) 13th. Example of tile found in the chamber of Queen Philippa's apartment in the Clarendon Palace, Wilshire, England. Product common of the Wessex school. Size aprox. 5.5" x 5.5", circa 1237.

Lund University Laboratory for Ceramic Research
(Site Excerpt) The Laboratory for Ceramic Research is mainly involved in ceramic/archaeological research. This activity serves the archaeological science by providing laboratory investigations of ceramic artifacts. The aim of the technological analyses is to establish choice of raw materials, manufacturing techniques and vessel functions. Working with these data in combination with studies of vessel shapes and decorative elements, it is possible to shed light on questions concerning provenance and distribution of prehistoric and medieval ceramic materials.

Arch-pot email group at

The Potteries Museum at Stoke-on-Trent
(Site Excerpt) The home of the World's finest collection of Staffordshire Ceramics. Discover the story of Stoke-on-Trent's people, industry, products and landscapes through displays of pottery, community history, archaeology, geology and wildlife. Explore rich and diverse collections of paintings, drawings, prints, costume and glass. More than 2000 objects on-line.

Alan Vince Archaeological Consultancy
Includes a slide show of medieval pottery.

Potteries Museum and Art Gallery
(Site Excerpt) The Museum has a collection of more than 650,000 objects. You can see many in the fantastic displays in our galleries. The Designation Challenge Fund has enabled us to provide on-line access to images and information about more than 2000 objects via this website.

Portable Antiquities Scheme
(Site Excerpt) The Portable Antiquities Scheme is a voluntary recording scheme for archaeological objects found by members of the public. Every year many thousands of objects are discovered, many of these by metal detector users, but also by people whilst out walking, gardening or going about their daily work. Such discoveries offer an important source for understanding our past.

Statistical Analysis of Medieval Pottery Database from Kinet, Southern Turkey
(Site Excerpt) Kinet is the modern name for Issos, a port town on the Mediterranean. In the medieval period, the Crusader Knights Templar resettled the site and used it for a lucrative trade in iron, timber, ceramics, cloth, and luxury goods like gems, silk, and spices. Senior Academic Technology Coordinator Christopher Nagle is working with Dr.
Redford to construct a database of the medieval pottery that has been recovered from the site.

Reproduction Medieval Pottery (A merchant's site)
(Site excerpt) Stamfordware - Circa 10th - 12th Century. Produced in Stamford, England, this type of pottery was widely distributed throughout England and was used by its Viking, Saxon, and Norman inhabitants. It is typically made of fine white or pinkish clay and is glazed pale green, pale yellow, or orange, depending on the clay and whether copper was added to the glaze

The Medieval and Post-Medieval Pottery (A report from the Tyneside/Durahm, England Find)
(Site Excerpt) Local Wares. These show marked similarity to well-known local traditions on Tyneside and in Durham but, with occasional exceptions, the fabrics cannot be identified with specific fabric types from those areas. Presumably, therefore, they have a more local provenance. (Following is the composition, probable provenence, and glazing descriptions of various types of pottery wares).

Medieval Pottery from Leominster (Adobe Acrobat required)
(Site excerpt) One Hundred and seventy-seven sherds of pottery and ceramic building material from an evaluation in Bridge Street, Leominster, carried out by Hereford City and County Archaeological Group (trading) Ltd were
submitted for study.

Vasilla's Photo Gallery
(Site Excerpt, a SCAdian page whose author is a potter interested in Russian and English Medieval Pottery)To most potters, it's not surprising that many of the items made of clay in Russia were similar to the shapes of those items being made elsewhere in the world. Items were made that were plain or fancy with utilitarian function. Cooking pots, pitchers, jugs, bowls, cups and various other items have been found that are made of clay from the medieval period.

Oxbow/David Browne Book Co. Offerings on MedievalPottery
There are 18 selectionon the subject available for sale.

A Petrographic studyof Scottish White Gritty Medieval Pottery (Adobe Acrobat required)
(Site Excerpt) This appendix presents the detailed results of thin section analysis of a selection of White Gritty ware sherds; the aims, methodology and results have been sumaraized in section 5.2 but are repeated here for the sake of completeness. The study treated a large body of material from 10 sites....

Light, and the Culture of Medieval Pottery
(Site Excerpt) This paper is specifically concerned with medievel pottery because that is my particular specialism but the philosophy behind this discussion should lend itself to the study of any type of object of any date. The basic premise is that the colours of the medieval pots are related by the lighting conditions that medieval people were accustomed to. Some pots are brightly coloured and highly decorated, others are dull. This is related in part to vessel function but must also reflect the intended place of use and thus variations in lighting conditions.

Brief Bibliography, Medieval Pottery Construction

(Site Excerpt) The Rocca of Campiglia is a large monumental complex located close to the town of Campiglia Marittima (Livorno). This area has been continuatively inhabited from the IX century to nowadays, as shown by several archaeological excavations. The 36 samples object of the present study are representative of the cooking ware and the common ware -with or without an engobe or a glaze- used in the Rocca between the IX and the XV centuries.

SCA-Arts Ceramics and Ceramic Feastgear (a bibliography)

Bubl Link: Pottery

The Ceramics Web
(Site Excerpt) The SDSU CeramicsWeb is an experimental web site for ceramics. It includes a such things as databases of glaze recipes and material analyses, links to other ceramics web sites, health and safety information, and a variety of educational materials related to ceramics.

Glaze Calculator
(Site Excerpt for the free download) The Glaze Calculator Website is provided to enhance the support services for our customers. The resources will help you resolve problems, report bugs, and suggest improvements to our products and service and discuss glazes with other users.

Medieval Pottery Manufacture in Beverly
(Site Excerpt) During the Middle Ages one of Beverley's major industries centred around the use of the abundant sources of local clays for the manufacture of pottery, bricks and roof-tiles. Most of this activity took place in an industrial suburb called Grovehill, on the eastern side of the medieval town: before the construction of the Beck (an artificial waterway
which gave better access to the town). In the late 1120s, Grovehill would have been the main landing-place for goods shipped up the River Hull, and it continued to be the only place in the vicinity where larger vessels could load and unload cargoes.

Byzantine Ceramics Project
(Site Excerpt) Two separate provenience studies were performed on Byzantine pottery and ceramic tiles from Northern Greece and the area around Istanbul (Constantinople). NAA, XRD, and SEM/EDS, were the primary techniques used. In
the first study, seventy-two pottery samples recovered from three sites in northern Greece-- Serres, Thessaloniki, and Philippi--were analyzed to determine whether stylistically similar pottery was manufactured at one site or several. A large sample of the pottery was recovered at Serres, a known pottery manufacturing center. NAA demonstrated that most of samples were, in fact, manufactured at Serres, but a smaller group was produced in Thessaloniki.

2000 Years of Pottery Forms and Shapes
(Site Excerpt) During the highly decorated period, jars included some examples with handles and some fine-walled vessels. Jugs predominated and were used for decanting wine or ale. Ceramic vessels began to copy metal prototypes: such an example is the aquamanile. Shelled lamps and skillets (frying pans) (not illustrated) were new innovations. The wide variety of jugs were often well decorated and many displayed a good sense of spatial design. White slip was sometimes found to cover the entire vessel and then concealed with green or mottled green glaze. These colours gradually became more evident than the clear glazes associated with the Early medieval period. Plastic decoration was very popular during the second half of the thirteenth century, but face masks were amongst the less usual styles of decoration.

Romeins Aardwerk (Roman Artwork): Cermics reproduction on a non-english site
I have included this site becasue of the stunning variety of pots represented in photos. Click on the links across the top or scroll down to see some great but slow-loading photos of replica pots. Also great representations of an historical kitchen.
(Site Excerpt) aims to provide an international collection of internet pages, concerning historical and contemporary ceramics. Links to ceramic artists, museums, organisations, suppliers and much more can be found here. The majority of the sites are from Germany, but this is changing.

Burg Kirkel - Virtuelles Museum: - Keramik -
German pottery finds: non-english but with some great photographs.
Hit the In English Button, unless you read French. Not all pages are translated to English

Society for the Study of Ceramic Antiquities in Gaul (french-only site)

Italian Medieval Ceramics (In French)
A few noteworthy photos

French Renaissance Ceramics
(Site Excerpt) The three objects in this tour are examples of "Saint-Porchaire" ware, one of the rarest and most mysterious of all types of Renaissance ceramics. Saint-Porchaire is recognized by its richly patterned layer of colorful paste decoration inlaid into a "clay skin"; its assembly from parts made through a variety of techniques such as molding, wheel-throwing, and hand modeling; and its uniform fine white clay that shrinks little in firing. Fewer than eighty examples are recorded, and the commonest forms are salt cellars, cups, ewers, and candlesticks, most in distinctive bizarre and fantastic designs. What is known is that a wide variety of techniques was used, the type of clay is found in relatively few places, and these ceramics were probably made by a single workshop.

Database for Archaeological Pottery at the Unversity of Venice
(Site Excerpt) Chemical data for the composition of archaeological pottery are listed following the excavation sites. If not otherwisereported, the data are given in percent of the relative oxide or element. These data can be used in a free way by the scientific community. In order to increase the amount of pottery data and then the utility of this database, scientific workers are invited to send us, by e-mail or diskette, chemical data of homogeneous series of archaeological ceramics together with the reference of the publications or meetings

Medieval Pottery Cistern from Newcastle upon Tyne
(Site Excerpt) This was recovered during the 1974-6 excavations of the Castle Ditch of the 'New Castle'. It was presented to the Museum of Antiquities with the rest of the excavation material on long term loan by the City of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1986. The pottery type is Reduced Greenware, probably of local manufacture. The bung is still in position and is made from the same material; this is unusual - the other cisterns recovered from the site appear to have had wooden bungs. It is likely, however, that the lid would have been of wood. The two strip handles have ribbed decoration and there is 'pie crust' decoration applied around the rim. The base is baggy so the vessel does not sit securely on a hard surface.