The Romano-British pottery kiln was excavated by the
Fawkham and Ash Archaeological Group in 1976. The site is situated on
alluvial deposits amidst a region where the subsoil is normally
Clay-with-flints. The kiln was adjacent to a ditch system related to the
Ash villa. The fact that it was relegated to the very edge of a ditch
suggests that the establishment it was associated with was primarily
devoted to agriculture rather than being a specialised pottery production
centre. In this respect, the location of the kiln is very similar to that
of the six Mucking kilns.6
The firing chamber was roughly circular and
approximately 75 cm. in diameter, with a kiln floor some 25 cm. below
ground surface. It was of semi-sunken type with a permanent clay 'bollard'
style pedestal (A)7 (Fig. 2). This central support does not
seem to have been sufficiently high, because at some stage in the life of
the kiln, the pedestal top was raised by the addition of blocks of
ragstone (B). Mrs. V.G. Swan has examined these and suggested that they
might be fragments of a kick-wheel. The structure had been fired at least
once before the modification was made. It is possible that its purpose was
to improve the flow of hot air around the pots, this perhaps having been impeded
by the build-up of debris around the pedestal.
Just below ground level, the kiln wall was partially lined
with broken tile (C). This gives the only indication of what kiln
furniture was employed. It is probable that the tile served as a ledge to
support further pieces which would bridge the void between pedestal and
kiln wall. The height of these fragments in relation to the pedestal
indicates that they date to the time its top was raised by the addition of
the kick-wheel. It is possible that the modifications effectively
converted the single chamber, bollard-style kiln into a dual chamber with
temporary floor as seen at Upchurch and elsewhere.8
The structure was pierced by a hole (D) perpendicular to its
main axis (O-O). This does not seem to have been functional so may be the
result of damage. If so, this damage occurred during the lifetime of the
kiln as its interior was burned. The fragmentary remains of a leather-hard
base of a dish were found amongst the ashen infill of the chamber (E).
6 M.U. Jones and W.J. Rodwell, The
Romano-British Pottery Kilns at Mucking’, Essex Archaeology and
History, Third Series, v (1973), 13-47.
7 V.G. Swan The Roman Pottery Kilns of Britain,
London 1984, Fig. XVII
8 Ibid., Fig. IX.