News and Alerts About Hengistbury Head Pottery Project
Welcome to the second news and alert about the Hengistbury Head Pottery Project.
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The project is coming along very well, my webpage about the project gives updates of the various aspects of the project, which involves me making groups of pottery replicas for the display in the new visitor centre at the Head. There is now an extra page about a couple of days we spent making and firing some pots while being video filmed - that will be edited and used for the video loops at the centre.

The workshops being run during the week, from 15th to 17th April, have been popular with local people and those from farther away with an interest in ancient pottery.
Thanks to you all for making your bookings, sorry some of you are unable to make it along this week.
There are still a few places left, so if you know anyone else who wants to attend please tell them to come along - although Monday is almost full so Tuesday and Wednesday would be better..

Below are the poster and the other details - these are repeated from the first of these messages as a reminder.

The additional information is that I am afraid the weather is set to be a bit damp at times, so bring wet weather gear for the walk from the Car Park and if you want to watch the firing. The pottery making workshops are being held inside the heated centre classroom.
I have prepared various batches of clay for you to try out, so you can aim to make a beaker and an urn using that. If there is time you will be able to blend some clay and inclusions yourself, grinding seashells and fired flint, just like the ancient folk. Another item that would be great for some of you to bring is tools for crushing and grinding these things - for instance some large flat stones.

I am away from the internet now for the days of the workshops, so please do not expect any response to emails.

There will be another of these emails telling you about the further opportunities related to the pottery project, hopefully we can sort out how to fire what is made over the next few days. Meanwhile keep an eye on the website.

I look forward to meeting you,
Bill Crumbleholme - The Beaker Folk Potter.
Hengistbury Head Pottery Workshops Flyer
Collared Urn

Workshop Details.

The workshops and firings are being hosted by the Outdoor Education Centre which is down a short road to the north of the car park.
There is a link to a map on the right, if you are unsure of the locations, click the link and zoom in.
If you have not seen it recently then allow time to visit the new centre - the thatch is looking very splendid. Take a look at the website for more information about this building.
Pottery making sessions start at 10am and 2pm.
Allow a few minutes to walk from the main public car park (Pay & Display just over a pound for the day).
There should be some signs pointing to the firing area, which will also have a white circular Yurt - north west of the main building - head there and you will be taken to the classroom on the north side of the building when we start making pots.
We will be starting from scratch, maybe digging and certainly preparing clay, adding the inclusions to make it workable and "fireproof".
Various methods of constructing the different types of pots will be demonstrated (expect a bit of Blue Peter style "here's one I made earlier"!) and then everyone can make their own pots.
The pots will be decorated with some of the patterns and motifs found on local pottery, using a variety of simple tools - or just fingers!
At about noon each day we will take a look at the firing processes. On Monday we will start a simple bonfire firing, on Tuesday a turf "igloo" kiln and on Wednesday we will unload the igloo and maybe do another open bonfire firing.
The wares made on one day may be dry enough to fire the following day. Otherwise they can be taken home and brought back when another firing will be arranged later in the summer (?!)
The firings will go on all afternoon and into the evening. visitors can stay and watch if they wish. The igloo turf kiln will be built on Monday late afternoon.

What To Bring

We are experimenting with different clays and inclusions (the more inert materials often found in ancient pottery). So attenders are encouraged to bring along their own contributions.
Clay needs to be fairly "clean" that is with not too many lumps of gravel or tree root! It is best to dig it from undisturbed ground, to keep it pure. Construction sites are a great source, but ask permission and be safe.
Sand is useful - preferably found away from the seaside so that any salt has been washed away.
Seashells were often used - there is a worry about them creating small pits in the finished pots because they expand on heating, buit we need to test this.
We will be bringing some flint that has been pre-heated to help fracture it.
Large stones for grinding - both for hammers and flatter pieces for working on, maybe like quern stones used for preparing flour?
Ways of seiving small grains - try open weave textiles, perhaps pans (as in gold panning, using swirling to separate grain sizes)
The Tools for decorating can be made of anything "authentic" - wood, bone, string, cord - so keep the bones from the Sunday Roast! Bird bones sawn across make great circular marks or shoulder blade bones can be used to make combs and scrapers.
Wear old warm clothes. thick socks and gloves etc for watching the firing. The classroom is warmer!
Bring a camera to record your efforts!
We will provide tea and coffee, but welcome cakes and biscuits, sandwiches or whatever you fancy to bring and share.

There will be plenty of clay available, so don't worry if you cannot bring any, we can also allow you to take away some of the materials to make your own pottery at home or in groups - "cascading" your knowledge learnt to others. We will alert you to subsequent firings, if you wish to bring your pots back at a later date.
Grooved ware bucket

Background Research

The Beakerfolk website gives some details of ancient pottery and experiments conducted to see how it might have been made, the page about this project has a set of images of the pots being made for the displays.
Dorset boasts some very good collections of ancient pots in its museums, check out this website to find where they are. The County Museum in Dorchester is a very good place to start.
The British Museum website has an excellent searchable catalogue with images.
There will be some suggestions available on the day, but a bit of planning is a great idea - perhaps you can make a sketch of the pattern you want to make on your pot?

These are a few of the first pots made for the project, using clay dug from the Head. They were fired in a bonfire. Although they just about held together, the surfaces are covered with fine cracks and deposits of salt and possibly chalk powder which have discoloured the earthenware clay.

This is a Google Map of the locations, for those of you not familiar with the site.

View Hengistbury Head - Pottery Project Map in a larger map
The Ancient Wessex Network CIC is a group of craft makers and artists who work in the "Heritage Industry".
Bill Crumbleholme is one of the founder members and Mark Vyvyan-Penney who will be tending the firing is another.. The members conduct research into ancient technologies and carry out experimental archaeology. They work with various materials, pottery, wood, metal, stone, textiles and more to produce functional and decorative articles inspired by the ancient evidence. They "perform" at a variety of locations and events in "Wessex" - working with the National Trust, AONB and English Heritage among others.
The network is negoatiating to have a display of their goods for sale in the new centre at the Head.
If you are interested in this project then you should take a look at what the network also offers. You can sign up on the website to receive a bulk email of a similar nature to this one.

Grooved Ware Bucket - Detail
This is a detail from one of the Neolithic Grooved Ware buckets being made.

Grooved Ware Bucket - Detail
This is a copy of an "incense cup" which was found on the Head, inside a larger urn.

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