Medieval Potters Kiln Unearthed in Front Garden
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Extracts from Hilda Faux's memories of a Village
A 24th Century potters’ kiln said to be “one of the finest examples of the medieval periods to have been excavated in this country,” has been unearthed in the front garden of a house in Potterspury.
The find was announced yesterday by Mr Dennis Mynard, Northampton Development Corporation’s archaeological officer, who is also secretary of the Wolverton and District Archaeological Society.
The excavation was carried out during June and July but was kept secret to avoid attracting souvenir hunters.
The kiln is in the front garden of the home of Mr Douglas Cuthbertson of the High Street, Potterspury. (Now referred to as Corn Cottage previously Pattimores Farm)
It came to light when Mr Cuthbertson employed a contractor Mr John Marchant who is a member of the WAS to landscape the garden.
Mr Marchant was taking off an 18 inch layer of soil with a mechanical digger when he noticed some pottery. He examined it and remarked on it to Mr Cuthbertson.
“I was very curious about it”, said Mr Cuthbertson, who up to that time, had no interest in archaeology. “That evening I had a dig around and as I got further down there was more pottery”. By common agreement, all work stopped and Mr Marchant informed Mr Mynard who organised a rescue excavation by members of WAS which took four weekends.
Mr Mynard said “The kiln is one of the finest examples of the medieval period to be excavated in this country and is the only one with a stone lined stoke-hole”. “We were very lucky that the kiln was in the garden of someone like Mr Cuthbertson. He became very interested and without his help the kiln might never have been recorded”.
“The pottery is a pink buff colour with a rich green glaze and the main products were jugs, cooking pots and bowls”. The finds have been taken to Thronton convent near Buckingham where the nuns are allowing a cellar to be used as a workroom. The pottery is being washed, sorted and reconstructed.
“This kiln dates from the late 14th Century but Potterspury was a centre of the local medieval pottery industry from before that time. The name of the village was probably changed from East Perie in 1287,” said Mr Mynard.
“It supplied an area within a 20 mile radius. The industry developed throughout the medieval period and right up to the 18th Century when the Staffordshire pottery industry took over”.
The kiln will probably be filled in now that it has been recorded, as the detail will deteriorate quickly if it is left exposed to the weather.
Mr Mynard hopes to find others in the town centre of Northampton when it is re-developed. The medieval pottery industry is his speciality and he has found references to a medieval kiln at the top of Newland.
A history book refers to “Poters” field situated at the top of Newland, which was built over in the last century. Mr Mynard believes the kiln was making potter similar, but slightly inferior to that made in Potterspury. “I hope to locate and excavate this kiln whent he Newland area is re-developed”, he said.
PICTURE CAPTION: This 24th Century potters’ kiln, said to be “one of the finest examples of the medieval periods to have been excavated in this country” was unearthed in the front garden of a house in Potterspury. Mr D Mynard (right), Northampton Development Corporation’s archaeological officer and Mr D Cuthbertson, in whose garden the kiln was found, are seen looking at fragments of the kiln structure.
Kilns were also found in Church Land when the houses were built.