Welcome to the Bill Crumbleholme Pottery Web Pages

Black Burnished Ware Page
Last revised: 2nd May 2011

Bill is a potter with an interest in Black Burnished Ware Pottery - Dorset, where Bill lives, was the centre of production of this type of "Celtic" pottery.

Bill's Pottery Studio is located opposite his home at
40 Elwell St, Upwey, Weymouth, Dorset DT3 5QF United Kingdom
Home phone & FAX number 01305 812030
Electronic mail address :- bill@upweypotters.com

Bill has moved back in time with some of his pottery, and is now producing Bronze Age beakers and urns - as well as BBW. Check out the website at www.beakerfolk.co.uk

The Study Group for Roman Pottery (SGRP) has a website at www.sgrp.org.uk

In the last few years Bill has been researching the local Celtic Iron Age technique known as Black Burnished Ware. He is making replica pieces and also developing an interpretation producing contemporary pieces inspired by his investigations. The images on this page are a sample of Bill's work.

The images will take a while to load, but there is plenty to read meanwhile!

 

Bill worked at the archeological dig at Bestwalls Farm, between Wareham and Poole Harbour, over 30 Romano-British BB1 kilns were found on the site.
Follow this link to see more details www.bestwall.co.uk
In July 2003 Bill rebuilt two of the kilns and fired them one last time, with pots made from clay found in Purbeck. This was featured as part of National Archeological week on 19th & 20th July 2003.
Follow this link for details and more images of the project



 

Brief overview of "Black Burnished Ware"
Much of the pottery made in Dorset during the Roman period is of the type known as (BB1). This was produced around Poole Harbour by long established native potteries of the later Iron Age, using local clays and traditional techniques and production methods. After AD43 these potteries began to produce new styles for the growing Roman markets. First for the Roman Army an then for the new civilian towns and settlements. These Romano-British potteries continued to produce BB1 to the 5th century AD. An industry that had been continuous for over 500 years. The best preserved late Iron Age examples are from burials, part of the grave goods for the use of the departed soul. Fine examples are bowls from the "War Cemetery" at Maiden Castle hillfort. The Portesham "Mirror" burial contained two vessels. BB1 was made on an industrial scale in the Poole Harbour area because there were excellent clay seams together with fuel, water supplies and a safe harbour. It is probable that local produce such as fish and salt was packaged in pots for distribution to major markets such as the town of Durnovaria at Dorchester where hundreds of thousands of fragments have been found in excavations. BB1 was made for functional domestic use, for storage, preparation and serving of foodstuffs. There is little evidence of it being used for cooking. Most BB1 was made by hand using coils of clay, later pots were thrown using simple wheels. The gradually changing styles can be recognised reasonably accurately, which often helps to date the deposit they are found with.

The Dorset County Museum at Dorchester (website at this link) displays many fine examples of these pots. They also boast a stock of Bill's reproductions on sale in their shop. In February 2004 Bill co-presented an evening lecture there on the project at Bestwalls and work with Bronze Age pottery, images from that evening are posted on this link. Many thanks are due to Peter Woodward for his enthusiastic support and advice.

The Rockborne Roman Villa also holds a collection of Bill's Reproductions.

Bill's Reproductions
These pots are made in the style of Iron Age Poole Harbour Ware and Romano-British Black Burnished Ware, inspiration coming from the archaeological records of the shapes & decoration found. Some modern technology is used, together with ancient techniques. Because of the experimental nature of the processes involved each pot is unique. A variety of clays are used, some with added grog to give thermal shock resistance. Some pots are coated with fine clay slips, with added colouring oxides. As they dry the pots are repeatedly polished with a pebble or metal spoon. They are then fired in a kiln to give them strength. The pots are then smoked using a variety of wood based fuels. A clamp is packed with pots in layers of wood shavings and sawdust. A slightly higher level of technology is a simple bee-hive kiln fired with timber. The flames and smoke etch into the clay during firing, yielding a subtle range of hues depending on the local intensity of the smoke & the level of oxygen starvation. Iron age and BB1 pottery from Poole Harbour was usually black all over, indicating a heavy reduction. The finished pots are treated with beeswax to seal the surface, but are still slightly porous and are not suitable for use with liquids.

Bowl inspired by "Maiden Castle War Cemetery Bowl"
Originals in Dorset County Museum
The Maiden Castle hillfort is just north of Upwey, where Bill lives

Images from Corfe Castle. The National Trust have invited Bill to several weekend activities. The pots have rarely been displayed in such splendid locations. The simple brick box was built to smoke the small bowls and vases, they had been previously biscuit fired and were packed in layers of wood-shavings and peat and charcoal and fired by lighting a fire on top and then putting on a lid. The results can be seen before unloading.
The pots below were spread out on display, note some have a coating of slip with extra Iron oxide.

As seen on Channel 4 TV's TimeTeam !
Bill was involved (mainly lurking in the background) when the Time Team filmed an investigation at Waddon in 1999, not far from his home.
He supplied clay and timber for fuel and helped construct and fire the beehive kiln and open pit firing. The lack of time did not allow for proper drying of the pots made, but the techniques were demonstrated of coil building, coating with ochre slips and burnishing.
The image shows Bill (on left with beard) and Jim Newbolt (the TT's specialist potter) with the kiln they built.

 

These are a few of the pots fired in an Iron Age type pit during a weekend in February 2003 at Viables in Basingstoke with Clair Lamerton. A high level of reduction and carbonisation was achieved so the pots are well blackened. Several pots were also made with locally dug clays, with crushed flint temper.
 

The pots below are a selection of vases made for sale at galleries
They use BB technology but are more contempory shapes.

 

 




A major exhibition called ARTYFACTS was staged at the Dorset County Museum in the Autumn of 2004. It featured Bill's Bronze Age pottery, follow this link.
 

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