In various parts of Tackley, blue-green clay lies just beneath the surface of the soil, as the
Local History Group has found when doing archaeological work. This led us to wonder whether the
first inhabitants of Tackley, in the Neolithic period and after, used this clay to make pots and
other everyday objects.
The local potter Jane Bowen agreed to help us find out.
In October 2017 in the
Jane helped us make our own pots without using a wheel, which only arrived here with the Romans.
More than 40 people of all ages joined in, making a variety of pots and other objects, many of
them decorated and with various materials added including shell, ground-up pottery (grog), chaff
and dried grass.
At the end of the afternoon, Jane took them to her studio on The Green for drying, and a week
later they were fired in pits in the ground, the earliest method of doing so.
Deb Ollman was among those who took part, and her writeup for the
Tackley Newsletter is reproduced here.
Firing the Imagination
Deb Ollman & Family, November 2017
A huge thank-you to the Tackley Local History Group for organising the amazing Pottery Days. It
was lovely to see the village hall filled with inquisitive friends and neighbours of all ages
eager to see if they could fashion a pot, goblet, urn or ornament worthy of a Neolithic
Jane Bowen shared her knowledge and enthusiasm as she explained and demonstrated the basic
techniques that would have been used in pre-Roman times. She gave us tips and ideas before
letting us loose with the locally dug lumps of clay. We all chose a work station and there was
much fun and chatter as the creative juices flowed and masterpieces emerged.
A selection of natural material, such as dried poppy seed heads, broken oyster shell and
feathers, was available for experimentation and created surprisingly effective marks and
decorations that made each item truly unique.
After being carefully marked so that we could reclaim them later, our pieces were spirited away
by the archaeologically-enthused pottery fairies to be dried and fired. The children’s works of
art were to be fired in Jane’s kiln, ensuring that our younger historians would almost
definitely have something to take home and treasure. The adults’ pots were pit-fired, which
would allow us to determine whether our local environment was sufficient for creating useful –
even essential – pottery in ancient times. The answer is yes! Many of us were able to collect
Those who needed a tube or two of superglue should still be proud to have taken part in the
experiment and shown how different sizes and shapes of pot fared in the early firing process.
Let’s hope we get to have another go, and that this was just the first in a series of local
community archaeological experiments.
Finally, another thank-you to all the volunteers who provided this experience for free. I was
so inspired that I joined up there and then and am now looking forward to attending my first
Local History Group talk to find out more about Tackley in the past. Please do show your support
too. We are so lucky to have such knowledge and opportunity on our doorstep to share and