Peter Davey

University of Liverpool

The text of this web presentation is substantially that of a PhD thesis which the author successfully submitted to the University of Liverpool in 1994. Unlike the majority of PhDs, his was not the product of three years of intensive work but of more than 20 years of involvement in the subject, ranging from a few weeks to full-time study. Its impetus was a professional knowledge and interest in ceramic kilns and technologies combined with a growing involvement in rescue archaeology, which frequently produced quantities of clay pipes which needed to be studied and occasionally the enigmatic remains of clay pipe production processes. His initial thinking, presented in 1982 in an earlier volume of The Archaeology of the Clay Tobacco Pipe under the title The structural development of clay tobacco pipe kilns in England: a preliminary study (BAR British Series 100, 3-17), was based on a restricted group of excavated kiln sites, in particular those at Arcadia Buildings, Southwark, Oyster Street, Portsmouth and Waverly Street, Bristol.

The present work represents a major step forward in the subject:

  1. He has produced a systematic corpus of all the known kiln sites and kiln material from the British Isles.
  2. He has created a logical classification system which will allow excavators both to identify the probable significance of new finds and to place them in a regional and national context.
  3. He has provided a coherent account of the function of early kiln types and their furniture.
  4. He has given a comprehensive survey and critical analysis of the contemporary accounts of pipe-kilns in the British Isles and of equivalent types in continental Europe.
  5. He has brought into the public domain many unpublished kiln sites and kiln groups.
  6. He has laid the foundations for many lines of future research.

Inevitably, such wide-ranging research in almost uncharted waters has left major questions unresolved. For example, the origins of the north-west European clay pipe production technology package remain unclear, as does the detailed evolution of kiln technologies in the 17th century. Nevertheless, the contribution which this volume makes is very substantial.

Peter Davey
Close Corvalley
Isle of Man
16 May 1996


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Last updated: Wed Oct 9 1996