Leinster Cooking Ware

Two small rim sherds of pottery have been recovered from a flowerbed in a garden within in the Grassroots Project Area. Both fragments appear to be Medieval in date and have been initially interpreted as pieces of Leinster Cooking Ware. These finds add further weight to the interpretation of the Seagrange monument as a Medieval Moated Site.

Fig. 2 Sherds of Leinster Cooking Ware

Fig 1. LCW sherds recovered from the Grassroots Project Area

Leinster Cooking ware is a term used to describe a type of coarse, hand-built, domestic pottery vessel that was produced over a wide stretch of Leinster in the medieval period. Broadly dated from the mid-12th to the 14th centuries, Leinster Cooking Ware is ‘the single most widespread medieval pottery type in Leinster’ (Ó Floinn 1988, 340) and it has been found as far north as Louth and as far south as Waterford.

In its most common expression, LCW takes the form of globular pots with slightly out-turned rims but other forms such as platters and jugs are also known. The general absence of decoration and the crude shape of the vessels along with the sooty exterior that is common on recovered fragments, all point to the use of LCW pots as functional, domestic vessels.

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Fig 2. Replica LCW pot 1 produced by Brendan O’Neill

The fabric of the pottery is characterised by mica and quartz inclusions coming from a crushed granite temper, presumed to derive from the Leinster Granite Massif (Potterton & Murphy 2010, 452).

Fig.3 Replica Leinster Cooking Ware vessel

Fig 3. Replica LCW pot 2 produced by Brendan O’Neill

Experimental Archaeologist Brendan O’Neill has researched the techniques used in creating these functional domestic vessels. By trialling ‘coil building’ and ‘hammer and anvil’ techniques, Brendan has used Leinster clay and granitic gravels to create two fine examples of LCW vessels for the Grassroots Project.

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Fig 4. Rim of pot 2

These vessels will be fired using Medieval methods in the coming weeks and the process will be fully documented on www.grassrootsarchaeology.ie

Further reading

Ó Floinn, Raghnall 1988 `Handmade medieval pottery in SE Ireland – ‘Leinster Cooking Ware” G Mac Niocaill & P F Wallace (eds.) in Keimelia: studies in medieval archaeology and history in memory of Tom Delaney, 1988, 325-48 Galway Univ. Press, Galway

Margaret Murphy & Michael Potterton 2010 The Dublin region in the Middle Ages, Settlement, land-use and economy Four Courts Press, Dublin