Crafts and Trade


Man using a jug12th century glazed potteryPottery vessels served many purposes both in the kitchen and the great halls of the wealthy, and in the cottages of the poor. It was mass produced, relatively cheap and widely available through most of Norman England. Simple unglazed vessels of all sizes were used in the preparation of food while jugs with glaze or decoration served wine or ale at the table. Other forms include storage vessels, lamps and bowls and, as the period progressed, the range of shapes and their functions increased.

Ceramic bottle from WinchesterThis period saw a great expansion in the number of pottery production centres, whose output was much greater than before. Many of these centres were located in villages and in the countryside, rather than, as in Anglo-Saxon times, in the towns where the risk of fire needed to be taken seriously. Potteries were now nearer their sources of fuel and clay, and their products were sold in the towns or by travelling merchants in the countryside.

12th century unglazed potteryWith the expansion in production came a flowering of style and technique. There had been some earlier experimenting with glazing as a technique for decorating pottery but after the Conquest glazed pottery became much more common. At first glaze was applied as splashes to jugs and table wares to form a simple embellishment, but as skills developed, lavishly decorated jugs were produced. Different types of glaze were used and, when combined with elaborate decorative patterns, the results were often very beautiful. Fine wares were imported from France and were copied both for their technology and their style, both of which were more advanced than in England.

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