Today (6th August), Trust archaeology volunteer Hilary was at Roman Circus House to process material from our site at the Williams & Griffin store in the High Street at Colchester. While she was going through one of the (many) crates of material, she had a nice surprise – she found a complete pot! This is a tripod pot, with three feet, which our excavation team uncovered near the base of a pit. Hilary then excavated out the contents of the pot: these consisted of soil which produced a few small bones, some of which seem to be from a bird.
Trust archaeologist Steve Benfield, who is our finds officer, had a quick look at the pot and describes it as a cauldron or cooking-pot, with double loop-handles. It is a red earthenware vessel, glazed inside and out with an orangey-brown glaze. It is not decorated and it shows no sooting. It would have been thrown on a potter’s wheel, and it may have come from a pottery in Essex or, possibly, it may have been imported. It was found with other pottery vessels, all of which were incomplete or represented only by sherds, including a German stoneware drinking flagon/mug and a glazed red earthenware bowl. The tripod pot probably dates to the 17th century. It looks pretty good after a few centuries in the ground!
There is no exact parallel for the tripod pot in Colchester Archaeological Report 7 (Post-Roman pottery from excavations in Colchester, 1971-85, by John P Cotter, 2000). The Trust did find a tripod vessel of a similar form at our Middleborough site in 1978, from a context dated to circa 1660. This was one of the six buried pots which we mentioned in an earlier post on this web-site (in ‘quite an experience’); the buried pots may have been used for the cold storage of perishable foods. We have found another vessel in Colchester which is similar in shape to this tripod pot, and it was made in the Low Countries. The tripod pot is also similar to metal tripod pots. The Williams & Griffin site has already produced a considerable quantity of post-medieval pottery, but it is not common to find complete pottery vessels, and this was the only complete pot in the pit. The tripod pot will next be washed and marked, and then fully researched and reported on.
With thanks to Hilary, and to all our volunteers, as always.
The Trust’s excavations at the Williams & Griffin store are being funded by Fenwick Ltd.
The images show Hilary with the tripod pot and the flagon/mug in the processing room at Roman Circus House today, and two views of the tripod pot in solitary splendour.