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Ipswich Anglo-Saxon pottery created in replica kiln in Tunstall, near Woodbridge





Anglo-Saxon pottery first created more than 1,400 years ago has been made once again in a replica period-appropriate kiln.

A new ‘experimental’ archaeology project hopes to investigate how pottery was fired in Ipswich between 680 and 870 AD, using similar methods as our ancestors.

Known as ‘Ipswich-ware’, the pottery was simple in design – featuring cooking pots and pitchers and distributed across the East of England – and reportedly among the first of its kind in post-Roman Britain.

Teams in Tunstall have been recreating 1,400 year-old Anglo-Saxon pottery, known as 'Ipswich-ware'. Picture: Suffolk County Council
Teams in Tunstall have been recreating 1,400 year-old Anglo-Saxon pottery, known as 'Ipswich-ware'. Picture: Suffolk County Council

Cash for the project was donated by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

This comes after an Anglo-Saxon kiln was uncovered under the Buttermarket shopping centre in Ipswich.

Faye Minter, from Suffolk County Council, said project such as this were important as they allow teams to test hypotheses.

The replica kiln was made after one was found under the Buttermarket shopping centre. Picture: Suffolk County Council
The replica kiln was made after one was found under the Buttermarket shopping centre. Picture: Suffolk County Council

She said: “They allow us to test historical methods and techniques based on evidence from excavations.

“This can give invaluable insight into our history - the lives, skills and industry of people who lived in the past.”

“The results so far suggest that there was a high level of skill, knowledge and significant resources needed to successfully produce Ipswich ware, much more than we anticipated.

“There is more for us to learn and already the volunteers have come up with a plan for a second firing later this summer to test more theories.”

The replica kiln was built over the course of three days in Tunstall, near Woodbridge.

The pots were made in collabroation between the Hands on Heritage archaeology site, Keith Wade from the Ipswich Archaeological Trust, and Suffolk County Council’s Archaeological Service, who wanted to make the pots using historical methods.

Back in April, a team of volunteers gathered in the village to fire more than 100 pots over a 27-hour period.

In addition, a team from Anglian Potters had been researching Ipswich-ware for more than a year, which included conducting experiments with raw clay processing and trying their hand at making replica pots alongside pupils from Rushmere Hall Primary School in Ipswich.

More than one tonne of clay was donated for the project by building materials firm Tarmac, while another bulk delivery was made by The Bulmer Brick and Tile Company.

Councillor Melanie Vigo di Gallidoro, who sits as Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for archaeology, said: “It is wonderful to see that the finds from our local excavations and archaeology, are bringing together local people, schools and organisations over 1,000 years later.

“Not only is the project providing a better understanding of Suffolk’s important past but is giving the local community a hands-on opportunity to discover more about their heritage, connecting them to the Anglo-Saxon way of life.”