Cooking pots

Iron Age, about 300 BC-AD 43
From Cambridge and Glastonbury, England

From broken pots to reconstructing daily life

The types of cooking pot shown here are found in every Iron Age settlement in southern England at this time (about 300 BC-AD 43). Broken pieces of pottery, called 'sherds', are commonly found by archaeologists when they excavate Iron Age settlements. All these pots were found in pieces, but have been restored by conservators at The British Museum.

At this time in the Iron Age pots were handmade from local clay and fired in bonfire kilns. Pots simlilar in shape to these cooking pots were used for serving food and eating out of. Iron Age people were not too concerned about washing up and burnt remains of foods are sometimes found on the inside or splashed on the outside of pots used for cooking. Used to cook stews, porridge or soups, it is likely that cooking pots were left to simmer on an open hearth. This explains why food was sometimes burnt on both the inside and the outside of the pot. The food was poured into a serving bowl for eating. Cooking pots were not usually decorated nor polished, whereas serving bowls could sometimes be decorated and were often polished by burnishing (rubbing to achieve a glossy surface) before being fired.

People made different types of pots or decorated them in distinctive ways in different parts of Britain. The pots shown here come from different parts of England and would not have been found on the same Iron Age settlement.

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More information

Bibliography

S. James and V. Rigby, Britain and the Celtic Iron Ag (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)

Dimensions

Height: 16.000 cm (pot at the back)
Height: 16.000 cm (pot at the back)

Museum number

P&EE 1870, 12-8, 8;P&EE 1906 10-11,1;P&EE 1951 7-5,1

BCB2734

Gifts of:
Glastonbury Antiquarian Society
Somerset Archaeological Society

Location

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