Firing of Replica Medieval Pots

As a part of the Archaeofest event that tok place in Merrion Square for Heritage Week last Saturday, Brendan O’Neil, in conjunction with with UCD School of Archaeology’s Centre for Experimental Archaeology and Ancient Technologies Research Centre, fired the replica Leinster Cooking Ware vessels he has created for the Grassroots Project.

The event and the firing were both a huge success with many visitors coming to Merrion Square to see experimental archaeology at work.


Merrion Square on Saturday




The replica Leinster Cooking Ware Pots undergoing initial warming by the fire. This is the final step in the process of removing moisture from the clay and removes the last traces of chemically bonded water. The larger of the two pots is the one that Brendan showcased at the Grassroots Heritage Week talks.




Brendan feeding the fire. The fire needed to burn for several hours being periodically replenished. This allowed a mound of very hot embers to form.


The ceramic vessels were then moved closer to the embers to dry out further. They were rotated and their position changed in order to achieve an even drying. This helps to prevent water in the clay erupting in spalls during firing which can crack or explode parts of the pot.


Brendan then raked out the embers into a ring with a clearing in the centre.


The Leinster Cooking Ware vessels and the other prehistoric vessels fired that day were then placed inside the ring.



Brendan covering the vessels with hot embers. The temperature of the fire at this point was very high necessitating the use of the long handle on the shovel.



The job nearly done


Once covered, the vessels were then left for several hours to fire



The fire was then left to burn down completely



The remaining ash and cinder was then raked away and the vessels left to cool




And the finished result! A great success, reddened by the process of oxidisation and  blackened by reduction, this Leinster Cooking Ware replica pot has been created using the source materials the techniques and one of the firing methods available to the Medieval population of Leinster.