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A medieval face

This little chap turned up today in one of the boxes of medieval pottery excavated by Alexander Keiller between 1937 and 1939, that I am currently examining.

It’s quite an unusual piece, almost certainly from a 13th-century jug. The ‘face’ is formed from an added blob of clay, shaped into a rough nose and mouth and with ring-and-dot stamps for the eyes. There is a hint of another ring-and-dot stamp on the right-hand edge, so there may have been a series of applied faces around the jug rim. 

Face jugs were made by many of the medieval pottery industries, for example the Laverstock kilns outside Salisbury, but this example is in a different fabric and may instead come from the Nash Hill kilns at Lacock. This is still quite a distance from Avebury but fine decorated jugs like this were traded over long distances. At least one other example is known from Avebury.

This photograph is a close up of a pot sherd with a 'face' detail of added clay, shaped into a nose and eyes. It is about twice the size of a fifty pence coin, included in the photograph for scale.
Visual description: This photograph is a close up of the pot sherd with a ‘face’ detail of added clay, shaped into a nose and eyes. It is about twice the size of a fifty pence coin, included in the photograph for scale.

By Lorraine Mepham

Lorraine Mepham is a freelance ceramics specialist, commissioned by the Avebury Papers to re-analyse the Alexander Keiller Museum holdings.

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