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Dating porcelain shards

With its polychrome geometric design, it is quite similar to the production of pottery called ‘pickleherring’ type, the tin-glazed pottery produced at the pickleherring pothouse which was located near Southwark and facing the Thames, South London.

Many similar fragments were locally excavated, so it’s my guess that it is a locally produced find.

It’s a bit stating the obvious, but the easiest way to identify broken pottery is to look for forms.

Is there any handle, is there a neck, rim, is it flat/ rectangular or rounded/ bottle-shaped? Is it plain or decorated, glazed, can you guess if it is wheel-turned or roughly made in firing with sand or shell inclusions?

It has a rim, it is round-shaped and flat, and looks like the serving vessel used for food. The fabric is white, with a clear glaze of white and cobalt blue flower decorations.

Due to the cracks, it is difficult to tell if it is hand-painted or transfer-printed.

PART I : a basic guide to forms & functions based on finds collected on the foreshore I have mostly visited the City’s foreshore (Trig Lane, Canon Street, Bankside…) and a few sites like Wapping and Putney.

After 3 years wandering about on a regular basis, I came across a large variety of forms and functions of pottery finds.

It is likely from a plate or dish, and my guess is that it would have been typical of the London’s delftware industry.It is sometimes difficult to identify the ceramic function, former form and period, especially because it is not found during an archaeology dig where the historical context of the area is known, and pottery finds are often badly broken and eroded.However, based on some observations and a keen eye for detail, identification can be made.Serving vessels for food are quite easy to identify.Mainly because of the shape, height and form, presence of a rim, and can be dated (based on my own experience) from late medieval to modern times.Broken sherds of what once were rectangular dishes can be found on the foreshore.You can also find fragments of finer Staffordshire slipware showing a mix of brown dots & lines, sometimes used for possets and drinking cups, as illustrated in the last thumbnail picture.It was time to browse through my “precious boxes full of junk and mystery items”, whenever I collected bits of clay for learning purposes, without really being able to identify or date them back accordingly.Being a fellow Thames admirer, it seems I have developed a light hoarding disorder, showing preference for the shiny medieval green glaze bits.I must confess I was never really keen on pottery before, always skiping Museum rooms filled with earthenware or old teapot collections, to prefer the more intriguing warfare relics or daily objects.With all this time spent on the Thames foreshore in the last 3 years, the odd sights have instantly aroused my curiosity, to the point I even attended a pottery workshop organized by MOLA and TDP last year.


  1. Sea pottery is pottery which is broken into worn pieces and shards and found on beaches along oceans or large lakes. Sea pottery has been tumbled and smoothed by the water and sand, creating small pieces of smooth, frosted pottery. It is often collected with more common sea glass by beachcombers. Contents. hide.

  2. Of firing is liable to destroy information that might help separate possible sources. We describe several pottery dating projects in which we have dated separate fractions such as humics, lipids and classes of residual carbon. Although in some cases consistency between results is sufficient to accept that this approach can.

  3. Get expert answers to your questions in Pottery, Archaeological Chemistry and Molecular Dating and more on ResearchGate, the professional network for scientists.

  4. One of the most common finds on the Thames foreshore are broken bits of clay and pottery sherds, catchy to the eye,there for us to see and pick up. Fragments of modern plates made of English or Chinese porcelain dating from after 1750 are everywhere on the foreshore, there to remind us of the Georgian, Regency.

  5. Pottery shards that had been collected from a Combahee River plantation site, Lynn. Harris jumped at the chance. fragments that were either porcelain or earthenware with porcelain-like decorations. This consisted of more. Custom fired stoneware and European creamware was also found that dates from. 1830 to 1850.

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