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"A Potted History" - an exhibition of selected finds from Swan Bank Pottery, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent .


This exhibition, created by society members, was installed in the Burslem School of Art from 5th January 2011 until 24th February 2011. We have now removed it. We are very grateful to the School for hosting this exhibition for us. For the record, here are some photographs of the exhibition as it was - click on a thumbnail for a larger picture. At the bottom of the page are some notes about the different types of pottery that were on display.


Cases 1-5
General view - cases 1 (nearest) to 4,
case 5 behind (in far L corner)
Info board & Case 1
Information board
and Case 1
Case 1
Case 1 contains some of the oldest pottery
found on the site (Midlands Purple)
Case 2
Case 2 contains Slipware
and Midlands Yellow
Case 3
Case 3. This case contains Mottled Brown Ware,
Black Iron Glaze, and Coarse Brown Ware
Case 4
Case 4 contains Brown
and White Saltglaze
Case 5
Case 5 contains Creamware, Rockingham Ware
and Agate Ware
Blake's Farm 1743
This is an artist's impression of the earliest occupation of the site of which we had evidence: William Blake's Farm ca 1743
Swan Bank Pottery 1812
This artist's impression shows the site as it may have looked as Swan Bank Pottery in 1812. Baker St. (on the right) was later to be re-named Clayhanger St.

The finds displayed include examples of the following types of pottery:

Medieval - Midlands white ware make its appearance during the early 13th century. By the end of the 14th century these wares are plain and functional as seen at Sneyd Green (later 14th century) It may be that white wares were deliberately harder fired at the end of this period. Overfired white wares can look very like Midlands Purple.

Midlands Purple - finds from the clay cut drainage ditch are earlier than those from the rest of the site. A date of probably early 16th century is suggested, given the similarity between these examples and those found in Market Place, Burslem in 1999. These vessels follow on from the Medieval tradition and are very highly fired cooking and storage wares made for the kitchen and dairy.

Cistercian ware - Presumably in response to changes in food storage and consumption at the end of the Medieval period, small cups begin to make their appearance in the ceramic repertoire. These vessels when they have a black glaze are termed Cistercian ware as they were first recognised during excavations at Cistercian Abbeys.

Blackware - these wares follow on from the Cistercian wares but by the early 16th century the form of the cups has been refined and new forms such as posset pots and porringers appear.

Midlands Yellow ware - The forerunner to developed slipware, these wares encompass cooking and table wares.

Slipware - These decorative wares represent advances in drinking and table wares and after the restoration become very popular presumably due to their colourful and cheerful appearance.

Mottled ware - largely tavern tankards with some domestic forms.

Brown salt glazed stoneware - the earliest forms are chiefly tankards for domestic use and for use in taverns. It is believed to have first been made during the late 17th century in Stoke-on-Trent but was supplanted during the early 18th century by white saltglazed stoneware.

White salt glazed stoneware - Huge quantities of white Saltglazed stoneware were made in Stoke-on-Trent. The pots could be thrown, moulded or slip cast and could be decorated with cobalt blue (termed scratch blue), enamelled in various colours and eventually printed. Tavern wares, table wares and tea wares were amongst the pots made in this hard wearing and popular fabric.

Cream ware - While working for Whieldon, Wedgwood had developed a rich green glaze which he used on his cauliflower teapots etc. By about 1760 these were going out of fashion and by 1763 Wedgwood had perfected his cream coloured earthenware. Much of the tableware was left undecorated, some was painted with borders in enamel colours and some was sent to Liverpool to be decorated by a new process of transfer printing by the firm of Sadler and Green (1756). Many other potters produced cream coloured earthenware.

More pictures

Close-up photographs of individual examples of each of the types of pottery found during the excavation can be seen here.


Artwork: Michael Bond

Photographs: David Thomas and Keith Ryan

Exhibition project management: Keith Ryan

Pottery notes: Joy Green

Archaeological Dig Director: Winston Hollins

All excavation work was  undertaken by members of SOTMAS

Pottery analysis: Joy & Mick Green

All the above are members of SOTMAS, the Stoke-on-Trent Museum Archaeology Society


© Stoke-on-Trent Museum Archaeological Society, January 2011.