• Photograph of people making pots

Ahead of the utterly unique Firing on the Foreshore event on Saturday 9 September where pottery is fired using prehistoric techniques; we'll be hosting a free pot-making workshop along the river on Sunday 13th August. 

Think pottery isn't for you? Does it make you glazed and confused? Here are five facts you might not know about prehistoric pottery techniques…

1. The pottery in the workshop will be made using local Thames clay

Pot-makers would use local clay collected along streams or riversides to mould their pots in ancient times. In keeping with this, the pots made in the workshop for Firing on the Foreshore will be created out of Thames Clay!

2. There were many methods used to mould pots

In prehistoric times, there were various techniques used to mould pots, which were used for serving food, storage, cooking and more. These methods included coiling, pinching and shaping to name a few. Archaeologist Dr. Fiona Haughey will teach you simplified beginners versions of these techniques, whilst artist Edith Slee will be on hand to help you decorate your pots.

3. In prehistoric times, pots were literally ‘fired’ in bonfires

Before modern kilns were invented, pots were placed in ‘firing chambers’ – essentially a bonfire or fire pit. Pots had to be left to dry out for about two weeks before they were ready to be fired. It was difficult to monitor the temperature of these make-shift kilns, meaning that no two firings ever gave the same result! 

4. The bonfire where the pots are fired is made from Thames driftwood

As in ancient times, the wood used in the Firing on the Foreshore bonfire is local Thames driftwood that would otherwise have ended up in landfill. The wood is provided by Riverwood, a project working with adults with learning difficulties to reuse and recycle this wood. This wood will be set on fire and your pots placed inside, with the tide slowly coming in to extinguish it, leaving behind your beautiful ceramics.

5. Prehistoric pots would break easily, but the shards stay intact…

Ceramics pots were breakable, but the shards they broke into are highly resistant to breaking down further – meaning they are an invaluable resource for archaeologists, as different locations and periods would produce different pottery.

  • Join the Pottery Making Workshop on Sunday 13 August from 1pm-3pm on the steps opposite Shakespeare's Globe. 
  • Firing on the Foreshore takes place on Saturday 9th September from 11am.

Please note there was an error on the Pottery Workshop date as the event takes place on Sunday 13 August.