Thursday, 29 April 2010


The next workshop in my new series at Elsdon is on the subject of Roman Samian Ware. In this one you will learn to make and decorate high status Samian Ware pots, just as Roman potters did two thousans years ago. All of the techniques and equipment you will use are based on excavated examples or experimental research. This workshop is suitable for anyone with an interest in ancient potting techniques but will be of particular interest to archaeologists both professional and amateur as well as museum curators and those involved with Roman archaeological sites.

Using replicas and original potsherds we will look at making methods, clay bodies, tools used, firing methods, potential uses, methods of deposition, preservation vs. decomposition, etc

Punches and Moulds: Based on replica examples, images of originals and potsherds, you will make your own set of Samian potters decorative stamps. You can even make your own Samian makers mark. These will then be used to create your own mould for a Form Dr37 (these pots have such romantic names!) bowl using a pre prepared mould blank.

With lots of information, hints, tips, help where needed and encouragement, all participants will have the opportunity to make at least two pots, possibly many more. Using a reconstruction of a Roman potters’ wheel you will begin the process of making pots in moulds and free throwing pots which can be decorated using Barbotine, Sprigging, rouletting, chattering and stamping methods. Pre prepared plain pots to decorate will also be provided.

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Monday, 26 April 2010

The Roman Pottery Workshop

The Gods of the Lararium were smiling upon us over the weekend. The workshop went really well with everyone producing several Roman Pots, lamps and goddess figures.

A great time was had by all and the food was fantastic.

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Thursday, 22 April 2010

Workshop Nearly Ready

The workshop is ready to go and there are many workshops planned for the future. I don't suppose that a collection lof different types of ancient potters whee like this, , can be seen anywhere else in the country.


In this workshop you will learn to make and decorate pots, just as the Romans did, on both stick and kick wheels. In addition you will have the opportunity to create your own Roman Head pot using a pre prepared pot and you will make your own Roman oil lamp and Goddess figure.

Day 1:

Looking at the Pots: Using replicas and original potsherds we will look at making methods, clay bodies, tools used, firing methods, potential uses, methods of deposition, preservation vs. decomposition, etc

Raw Materials: How to find and prepare your materials. We will look at the types and sources of raw materials and their storage. All participants will prepare their own clay with appropriate inclusions.

Demonstration of the various types of potters' wheel and mould making techniques

Wheel practice working in pairs and with lots of assistance

Day 2:

Making & Decorating: With lots of information, hints, tips, help where needed and encouragement, all participants will have the opportunity to make at least two pots, possibly many more. You can choose from a variety of techniques.

All materials and equipment will be provided. All pots and tools that you make during the workshop are yours to keep. As it is not possible to dry the pots sufficiently to be able to open fire them during the two day course, firing is offered as a separate one day event. This will be an optional third day of the workshop at a later date, at no extra charge, if you can't attend, your pots will be fired for you and can be shipped to you by DHL at cost. Photographs of the firing will be taken. The cost of the workshop includes lunch at the Coach House, delicious home made soup and a roll with a choice of deserts, coffee and home made cakes at break time. If you have any special dietary requirements please inform us in advance.

Accommodation and travel are not included, but a list of local accommodation providers is available on request.

Phone 01669 622890
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Friday, 16 April 2010

Volcanic Sunset in Northumberland

From Inner Golden Pot at the top of the Coquet Valley looking out, over the Cheviot Hills, into the Scottish Borders, what a way to relax after a hard day of workshop building!

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The First Pot on a New Wheel

What a joy, to create a new wheel in the image of a very old wheel and then make the first pot on it. I'm delighted to say that it performed beautifully. Counting down to the first Roman pottery workshop in my new studio. Shelves are up, the number of wheels is growing by the day and I'm getting quite excited.

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Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Six Wheels on my far

And I'm aiming for ten. Today I built two stick wheels, one floor mounted and one a seated wheel, and cast the flywheels for two momentum kick wheels. I'm trying to cover a wide variety of wheel types and from the Stibbington, wheel alone it's obvious that the Romans used both stick and kick. I want participants in my workshops to have the opportunity of experiencing both types. As you will see from the photographs, today I've made wheels which utilise old cart wheels as the flywheel. This type of wheel was certainly used during the mediaeval period as shown in various mauscripts, it's still used in India and I can't believe that Roman potters would have missed the opportunity to utilise an old cart wheel.

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Friday, 9 April 2010

Bronze-Age Jewellery

I'm hoping to recreate some sets of Bronze-Age grave goods so I'm setting myself the challenge of making a jet necklace from Kyloe in Northumberland. I suspect that this reconstruction from the 1928 edition of Archaeologia Aeliana isn't quite correct but .............

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Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Magic Sites in Northumberland

Simonside & the Coquet Valley from Castle Hill

Today was our day off, a luxury that we allow ourselves now and again. Today we decided to wander round a few of the more remote archaeological sites in North Northumberland. Few visitors to Northumberland ever leave the main tourist route of Coast and Castles and they really miss a treat, in this county you really can get far from the madding crowd. Our first stop was the Iron Age hill fort on Castle Hill above Alnham. It's hard to find, you're not alerted to its presence by its silhouette on the horizon, as you are with many of the other hill forts. The approach is via a single track, unfenced road, which passes Alnham church (a gem in itself but that's for another day) and snakes its way up the hillside, through a farm yard and over a ridge heading into the heart of the Cheviots. It's at this point that you have to find somewhere to leave the car. No brown boards, interpretation signs or National Trust car park to welcome you. An unpromising narrow sheep track leads up the hill, through a couple of gates onto the top. Suddenly you are presented with a breathtaking view, over deeply dug ancient bank and ditch ramparts, to my beloved Coquet Valley and the Simonside Hills in the South and the snow covered Cheviots to the North and West. When I was last here, about four or five years ago, rabbits were rapidly digging away the banks, this now seems to have abated, possibly because they have realised that the thin topsoil masks ramparts composed almost entirely of sharp Cheviot redstone lavas.

Now I’ve called today’s blog 'Magic Sites in Northumberland' which may be a little romantic but as we sat on the ramparts looking out at the view the sun broke thorough the clouds and the silence was broken by the song of rising skylarks all around us. It really was pretty magical but an even more magical site awaited us.

From Alnham we headed for Milfield and a great lunch at the Milfield Country Café, after which I bought a useful little book by Archaeologist Clive Waddington;Maelmin a pocket guide to archaeological walks'. Walks centered around the Maelmin Heritage trail. One in particular caught my eye, a place that I have meant to visit for years, Roughtin Lynn.

The waterfall, Roughtin Lynn (or Linn), is hidden in an overgrown gorge with, dare I say it, a quite magical atmosphere. It's not a big waterfall, it's certainly doesn't carry a large volume of water, but it is a very beautiful waterfall. Most importantly as far as I'm concerned it lies at the heart of an ancient landscape containing England's single largest rock art site, which did not disappoint, right next to a deeply ditched and banked enclosure, which may be a strangely placed hill fort but is possibly much older. This site certainly warrants a second visit and it will get one.

Anyway, back to the workshop I've got to make potters wheels for my forthcoming Roman Pottery workshop and canopic jars for a couple of museums.

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Saturday, 3 April 2010

Great 'History of Pottery' website

I just found the most amazing historical pottery website by fellow potter Steve Earp Check it out.

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