12. Conclusion

Archaeological material, derived from pipe kiln sites and associated dumps, has been recorded from collections throughout the British Isles. Contemporary descriptions of pipe kilns and processes surrounding their use have also been consulted. Using these, and the author's own experience as a practicing ceramicist, the archaeological material has been divided and catalogued according to function and location within the kiln structure. A terminology has been established to facilitate identification and recording of similar material as it becomes available. A recognisable pattern of evolution runs through the collected data with a small number of aberrant forms also recorded. A far greater body of evidence is required before the geographical or chronological significance of these atypical assemblages can be assessed with any certainty. Set out in the following pages, under the main category headings, are abstracts of the findings followed by indices to the main text.

12.1 Muffles

Muffles appear to have been adopted from as early as 1612. The common form to the end of the seventeenth century was that of a circular vessel with external prop type buttresses. Atypical forms have been encountered at Gloucester, North Herefordshire, Shropshire, Cheshire and Merseyside suggesting little direct contact with the London-based Company. Although eighteenth century material is scarce it is clear that radical developments took place culminating in a developed type of greater height displaying both external buttresses and internal peripheral shelves. Muffles from the nineteenth century are remarkably consistent; tall, cylindrical, tapering wall from base to rim, combined step and cornice type peripheral shelving, open top with additional side access and bar type buttresses.

12.2 Furniture

The earliest recorded furniture associated with tobacco pipe making (Type 1 saggars from Barnstaple dated by pipe typology 1610-30) was used in a kiln not specifically designed for pipe production. True pipe kiln furniture makes its first appearance in the last quarter of the seventeenth century. The furniture typologies were created to aid cataloguing and manipulation of accumulated data. Although paucity of data prevents firm conclusions some patterns have emerged which appear to have chronological significance. Non-stacking type 1 props clearly relate to muffles without peripheral shelves. They have been recorded from the period 1670-1710 and are unlikely to occur after 1725. Dishes occur in later nineteenth and twentieth century assemblages dated between 1870 and 1950. These appear to be associated with exaggerated stem length. A similar case exists for saggar types 2 and 3. Type 1 saggars reappear in the second half of the nineteenth century with the adoption of open flame kilns. Although stray fragments occur earlier they are invariably from unsafe contexts contaminated with waste from pottery production.

12.3 Furniture supplement

The evolution of furniture supplements is linked closely with that of furniture. With the increased quantity and diversity of furniture in the nineteenth century there is a corresponding increase in the quantity and diversity of supplements. As wads type 3 and 5 were used with stacking props, their occurrence at Rainford prior to 1760 and 1770 respectively provide useful earlier dates for these objects than is apparent from the tabulated furniture data.

12.4 Miscellany and waste

A number of unexpected objects and categories of waste product emerged as recording progressed. These include waste clay from the manufacturing process in the form of trimming rings and seam trimmings preserved by firing. The former may have served a secondary function as test pieces whilst preservation of the latter almost certainly results from accidental entry to the firing chamber. Waste arising from the firing process includes pipes with transverse squatting and various slag laminates. The former indicate orientation of product within the chamber whilst the latter derive from temporary covers over muffles. Miscellany includes candle holders and a lamp used inside the chamber to facilitate packing; a pipemakers' stamp from Chard; various small objects possibly parts of figurines or ornaments; plugs, a damper plate and door slabs all relating to kiln superstructures; fragments from several tipping muffles used for glazing stem tips after removal from the pipe kiln.

12.5 Ground plans

Of the nineteen plans recorded, thirteen, covering the period 1680 to 1919, show remarkable consistency. All have a stoking pit and flue ash pit cut into existing ground levels. Eleven of these had circular muffles set in rectangular brick structures. All were of updraught design with a single firemouth. Of the remaining six plans one is single fire, updraught, open flame with massive circular foundations suggestive of tall bottle design, four are multi-fire, open flame, circular, updraught, the remaining kiln was constructed as a multi-fire, updraught, open flame and later converted to downdraught with the addition of a freestanding chimney. Although it is impossible to be precise about the construction dates of these open flame kilns, none are likely to be earlier than 1850.

12.6 Superstructures

Parts of the superstructures of two nineteenth century kilns survive intact at the time of writing. Both are constructed from conventional building materials, predominantly brick. That from Lewes, which probably dates from the 1830s, was a single fire, updraught, muffle kiln built into an end wall of the workshop. The second surviving kiln, at Broseley, probably built in the eighteen eighties, is a freestanding kiln. Construction plans and photographs from the nineteenth century show superstructures of pipe kilns which are unlikely to differ greatly from those of earlier periods.

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Last updated: Wed Oct 9 1996