New exhibition revealing the skills of Northamptonshire potters past and present
A new temporary exhibition at the Chester House Estate shows how local communities have been exploring their Roman past through the ARC, as part of a hands-on pottery project run by MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology) and funded by a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). Crafts and Community in Roman and modern Northamptonshire will shed light on a little know aspect of Northamptonshire’s heritage and highlight how archaeologists and local communities have brought the ARC’s amazing archaeological finds to life.
The Crafts and Communities project began with MOLA Iron Age and Roman Pottery specialist Adam Sutton using digital x-ray equipment to see “through” around 100 Roman pots from our collection. Northamptonshire might be better known as the shoe-making capital of the world, but the x-rays reveal fascinating insights into a booming pottery industry during Roman period (43 AD – 410 AD).
A key discovery from the project was that the Roman craftspeople not only experimented with techniques but shared these skills and developments as a community. Carrying on the Roman potters’ tradition of sharing skills and techniques, the project team joined forces with Rob Bibby, master potter at Woodnewton Pottery near Oundle, to lead a series of pottery making workshops for Northamptonshire residents.
Participants on the workshops, including students from colleges of the Creating Tomorrow Trust, a charitable trust for young people with additional needs, explored the full range of skills needed to be a potter in Roman Northamptonshire, using techniques identified from the x-rays of Roman pottery.
This project with MOLA has been a great opportunity for our collections to be used in a different type of way and this small exhibition will help introduce even more people to Northamptonshire’s rich Roman heritage. The exhibition runs from 17th December 2022 – 17th April 2023, 10am-2pm. On display will be pottery from the project, as well as x-ray images, allowing visitors to experience the team’s discoveries for themselves. You can also discover more at the project blog.