When I handle an ancient pot it's a little like shaking hands with the original potter; a handshake across thousands of years. In the surface of the pot I can feel the impressions made by their thumbs, the pressure of their fingers pushing the wet clay. The movement of an ancient hand as the potter decorates the surface of a collared urn replays itself in my mind. It is my aim to glean as much information as possible from this connection enabling me to answer some of the thousands of questions which present themselves.
The art and science of pottery making arrives very late in the development of the Human Species, Homo sapiens which has inhabited the Earth for over 160,000 years. By comparison, the earliest known ceramic aretefacts, small fired clay figures of humans and animals from Dolni Vestonice in the Czech Republic, dating from about 30,000 years ago, appear quite recent.
The first pots in Britain don't appear in the Archaeological record until about 6,000 years ago as the hunter/gatherer lifestyle of the Mesolithic is giving way to the settlements of the first farmers of the Neolithic. This new way of life demanded new ways of storing and preparing food, pottery emerges as one of the solutions to these needs.
In Britain pottery making methods would change little from its first introduction till the arrival of the Romans. Pots were made by hand building using the pinch and coil techniques. Firing took place in open fires probably in the domestic hearth as one of the household chores.
Participants in my Prehistoric Pottery workshops learn to find and prepare natural clay, make their own pottery tools, form and decorate various different pot types from the Neolithic, Bronze-Age and Iron-Age and fire them in open fires.