Midlands purple and Cistercian-type wares in the west Midlands in the 15th-16th centuries

Susan M Wright, Derek Hurst, 2011

Data copyright © Worcestershire Historic Environment and Archaeology Service, Bordesley Abbey Project unless otherwise stated

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Derek Hurst
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Worcestershire Historic Environment and Archaeology Service
Worcester University
Henwick Grove, Worcester
Tel: 01905 855456

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Photograph of Cistercian-type ware cup from Chilvers Coton kiln

Midlands purple and Cistercian-type wares are some of the commonest wares on late medieval to post-medieval sites in the west Midlands and are known to have been produced at several centres across the historic counties of Derbyshire, Staffordshire and Warwickshire, and possibly Shropshire. It was recognised, however, that the products of different early production centres (specifically here: Ticknall, south Derbys; Burslem, Staffs; Wednesbury, Staffs now West Midlands; Nuneaton, Warks) could not be differentiated at consumer sites in the region; this considerably hampers study of both the industry's origins and dating, and of the production and distribution of these wares across the whole region. Scientific investigation (inductively-coupled plasma spectroscopy and petrography) of samples from all the known major early production centres is used here to try to achieve greater characterisation of these wares in terms of fabric-type and, thereby, their attribution to specific sources. The intention of this pilot study was to test how far the results of the scientific work could be translated into the definition of fabrics that could be visually determined, either in hand specimen or, more likely, with x20 microscopy.