Bill Crumbleholme Pottery Web Pages

Monkton Wyld Labyrinth & Pottery Making Workshop

February 2005

This page is about a workshop Bill was involved with at Monkton Wyld Court, north west of Lyme Regis (see

Jon Bullock masterminded the construction of a labyrinth on the grass terrace and Bill made and fired some pots to be incorporated into the goals of the labyrinth.

This is the story of those activities.....

The labyrinth makers marked out and cut trenches for the walls

Meanwhile Bill and his helpers constructed a clamp using the turves and a lid for the kiln using woven willow wands.

Jon directs operations

Inside the walls of turf, a fire was built up to produce a bed of embers, a central stump was placed to help support the roof. Pieces of recently pruned bay tree branches were placed on top of the embers, these were meant to slowly burn above the embers.

Andy Goldsworthy would have been proud of the installation!

Willow off-cuts were strewn over the bay tree to form a mattress.

A ritualistic bit of fire walking compressed the bed.

Bill had been up until 4am the night before making a collection of vessels, in the style of Bronze Age beakers and bowls. These were placed, with those made by other people, onto the bed of willow.

Wood shavings (donated by a bodger) were scattered over the pots to provide more fuel.

Sticks were placed over that up to the top of the walls.

Some smoke and steam was rising from the fire below, but as planned no flames appeared.

The woven willow roof was moved on its stretcher ....

... and placed over the fire.

More turf was then placed on the willow to clamp up the kiln.

Meanwhile the labyrinth makers had finished cutting the trenches, lined them with textile to limit grass and weed growth and filled them with flint nodules, collected from the local fields by the Monkton Wyld Court volunteers.

This view from a high window shows the layout, in an artistic blur of condensation.

During the early evening the clamp steamed away happily....

But later the steam stopped and some turf was removed and the fire was rekindled.

An early riser processed her way along the path.

The clamp was unloaded, to reveal a collection of pottery in various states of existance.

Bill sat and contemplated the beautiful morning and considered the outcomes.

Some of the pots has survived their ordeal intact, but none of them were properly fired. The glowing embers did not get the green bay branches alight, probably not enough embers were built up and the clamp was so tight that the fire did not have enough air to burn.

There was a lot of unburnt fuel left in the clamp. In Bill's previous clamp firing too much air had got in and the pots had been heated too soon, too hot. So this time the walls were thicker and the air more restricted.

Some of the pots had been damaged by the roof falling in on them (apparently one of the Celt's worst nightmares!), some by being heated too quickly when the fire was reignited.

However, as luck (or the gods) would have it, seven offeratory bowls survived the cleansing fire and were placed at the goals of the labyrinth, to contain the ritually placed items.
(As a precaution the pots are to be fired in the Court's electric kiln, to make sure they are properly ceramic.)

The participants stand back and admire their handiwork.

Bill was inspired to contruct one more pot on the Saturday evening and decorate it on Sunday morning, with the pattern of the labyrinth and more traditional Bronze Age patterns.


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