On a sort of related note....
You can now buy "air drying Clay" from education suppliers like YPO and
this has a very fine fibre within it (and I assume acting like a temper)
to stop it cracking etc as it dries and hardens in air. I guess this is
likely to be a plant fibre so it might be worth finding out what as I
guess similar plant fibres would have worked just as well in the past.
The fibre is very fine and makes me wonder if animal hair was ever used
as temper in the past? Anyone know for sure?
Andy HollandBSc. MSc PGCE AIFA
Education Project Officer (11-18)
Council for British Archaeology,
Tel: 01904 671417
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> -----Original Message-----
> From: British archaeology discussion list
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On
> Behalf Of Beatrice Hopkinson
> Sent: Sunday, July 19, 2009 9:20 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: plant temper
> Thank you for reminding me of the seashells at coastal sites:) I
> also interested that pure clay was found on the Orkneys only two feet
> down - was it in a low-lying riverine area? At Droitwich we too found
> very pure smooth grey clay with no inclusions at Roman levels which
> meters deep when a sewer pipe was being laid - and I used some of it
> make some reproduction pots. It can also be noted that clay is more
> accessible in the borders of river banks which contains natural
> inclusions that might include chaff and stones and sand that was used
> making some prehistoric pots.
> [log in to unmask]
> >I would agree with this, Bea. We tried making pots under the
> >of an expert potter (Andrew Appleby of Orkney). Clay was dug and we
> >to remove stones from it rather than add anything to it. Depends
> >you get the clay from, a variety of 'inclusions' from stones to
> >seashells can be found in different locations on Orkney. I was
> >given some clay from about two feet down (friendly farmer digging a
> >ditch) and it was devoid of any inclusions. My point is that clay is
> >variable. Sometimes it might need tempering, sometimes not.
> >As Bea says below, I doubt that valuable plants were used to such
> >purpose. I have read many pot reports over the years and inorganic
> >tempering seems to be the most common.
> >Beatrice Hopkinson wrote:
> >> I've never heard that a specific type of plant was used for
> >> nor even seeds for that matter (probably too precious?), other than
> >> left over from winnowing or in the fields I've found mostly
> >> temperings like sand, limestone, pebbles, grog (potsherds),
> >> whatever was available. The size of the tempering would also have
> >> an issue as well as the labor where that was necessary.
> >> Bea
> >> [log in to unmask]
> >>> Can anyone please point me in the direction of what types of
> >>> used for tempering prehistoric pots in Britain.
> >>> Something a little more definitive than cut grass/straw.
> >>> many thanks
> >>> Rob Ixer