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Buckley Society Magazine Issue Four: Recent Fieldwork in the Buckley Potteries by Peter J. Davey: Part of article and map SEARCH TERM: pottery"

April 1976

see 146.5 for "A Short Account of the Early Local Industries" in "Buckley 'Board' 100 not out" by Leslie Rowlands.


Buckley Society Magazine Issue Four, April 1976

see 28.302 for contents etc




The article contains a drawing of each of the nineteen potteries and a decription, plus various other images. These are entered separately under 132. 2 - 27. See also 2.54 for a photo of Hayes' Pottery which was included in the article.





The last five years have seen a great deal of progress in the study of Buckley potteries. Messrs. J. Bentley and H. M. Harrison, assisted latterly by the Buckley Clay Industries Research Committee, have conducted a series of excavations and field surveys which have gathered considerable amounts of material and identified many new sites. The surveys have proceeded from the pioneering articles by Messham and Barton (1956) and attempted to identify pottery sites shown on the mid-eighteenth century Gwysaney Estate map and the 25" Ordnance Survey of 1871. Using nineteenth century Directories it has been possible to establish some element of continuity for some of the sites. Sixteen of the nineteen sites identified have been established using these methods, the remaining three - all probably earlier than c.1750- have been found through field walking or observing contractors at work. Four sites have been partially excavated (1,2,7,14) and a further three have yielded reasonable groups of pottery (11,18,19). The following is an attempt to summarize the results of the work to date. The sites are numbered, given a six-figure national grid reference where possible and the dates at which they figure on maps or are mentioned in Directories are noted, along with the names of the occupier/owner where known. The present state of the site is indicated on a 25" plan and the general character of the finds outlined. Buildings shaded are still standing, those left unshaded were present in 1871, but no longer survive. The numbers on the plans are the field numbers of the 1871 survey.



Although Messham (1956) gives a clear account of the trading activities of the Buckley potters in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the identification of Buckley products in possible receiving areas poses a number of problems. First, relatively few published sites exist in which post-medieval and later levels are properly recorded. Secondly, documentary evidence appears to be lacking for the peak periods of production around 1700. Thirdly, there is as yet no definitive publication of any Buckley kiln site, so that many Buckley products cannot be recognised by excavators even when they occur. Fourthly, the picture of the potteries as revealed by excavations, most of which pre-date 1750 and all of which pre-date 1860, differs very considerably from that built up by a study of the signed and dated pieces in local collections, almost all of which post-date 1860. Fifthly, excavators have been apt to attribute to Buckley all black glazed ware of whatever period, occurring over a wide area of Wales and the West Midlands of England. Allen (1974) in publishing a post-medieval site in the Brenig valley, attributes the pottery to Buckley despite the fact that no kilns of that period, and none producing wares of that type were known at the time. Greene (1976) attributes much of the iron-glazed wares occurring in the sixteenth and seventeenth century contexts at Norton Priory to Buckley, despite the fact that no kilns are known from this period in Buckley, no finds of closely parallel material have occurred in the Buckley area, and that possible sources (in South Lancashire) more local to Norton are known to have been in operation during this period.


The situation is however improving. A detailed study of the products of Site 2 is well advanced for publication. Large quantities of Buckley materials dating from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries have been recovered from excavations in Chester. The detailed publication of these with their clay pipes, glass and associated Staffordshire and imported wares should provide a structure for the detailed elucidation of the Buckley sequences. The excavation of the Old School House, Castletown, Isle of Man, (Cubbon, 1971) provided an interesting stratified group while the rapid growth of rescue excavations in Ireland should provide more evidence.


The recent publication of a small group of pottery from the Napoleonic beacon on Moel-y-Gaer, Clwyd (Guilbert and Greene, 1975) provides a very useful terminus ante quem for a slip-decorated beaker which formed part of the packing of the post holes and which is of a type found commonly in Buckley in field walking, but has not as yet been recovered from kiln sites in the area.


In 1793 a Buckley cooking pot was excavated in the Old Town of Quebec in Canada. It was associated with French faience with pale and dark blue camaieu decoration, polychromatic faience, white salt-glazed stone-ware plates, the handle of a Bellamine bottle, the handle of a French faience chamber pot and the necks and bases of French pale green bottles, all dating to the first half of the eighteenth century in a rubbish pit with a terminus post quem of 28 January 1723. The cooking pot is very similar to examples found on both sites 1 and 2 in Buckley.


This kind of discovery gives an insight into wider possibilities for the study of Buckley products traded to the Americas.



POTTERY SITES - see start of entry for details



Fieldwork between 1970 and 1976 has identified nineteen pottery sites in the Buckley area, ranging in date from the fourteenth to twentieth centuries. Although considerable quantities of pottery have been recovered from a number of these the picture is incomplete and major chronological gaps remain. The pattern of distribution and trade still require archaeological identification.



I am grateful to M. F-D Picard and Mr K. J. Barton for supplying me with the information from Quebec, to Clwyd County Record Office for a great deal of help and permission to publish the Powell material, to Arthur Amery for his plan of the sites recorded here, to Bevis Sale for his drawings of the pottery from Site 2, to Elizabeth Davey for all the remaining drawings, to Diana Morgan for typing the text. The survey itself would have been impossible without the energy and enthusiasm of James Bentley and Martin Harrison and members of the Buckley Clay Industries Research Committee.


I am grateful, also, to Mr R.Wylie and the Department of Physics, University of Liverpool for the photograph of Powell's postcard and Mr T.E.Ward and the Grosvenor Museum, Chester for the photograph of the slipware plate.




Allen. D., 1974 'A Post-Medieval Settlement - Brenig Valley Excavations 1973 - Interim Report' Denbighshire Histortcal Society Transactions vol. 23, 44-49.


Barton. K.J., 1956. 'The Buckley Potteries -Excavations at Prescot's Pottery 1954' Journal of the Flintshire Historical Society xvi, 63-87.


Bentley.J., and Harrison. H.M., 1973. Benjamin Cottrell's Pottery, Buckley. Unpublished MS. in Clwyd County Record Office, Hawarden.


Bentley.J., and Harrison. H.M., 1975 a. Buckley Clay Tobacco Pipes from Recent Excavations. Unpublished MS. in Clwyd County Record Office, Hawarden.


Bentley.J., and Harrison.H.M., 1975b. Investigation of a possible Pottery Site, Buckley. Unpublished MS. in Clwyd County Record Office, Hawarden.


Bentley. J., 1976. 'A Pipeful of History' Country Quest January. 25.


Cropper. T., 1906 'Early Tobacco Clay Pipe Making at Buckley', Cheshire Sheaf, 3rd series. vol. vi, May, 43-4.


ubbon. A.M., 1971. 'The Mediaeval Chapel of St Mary's Castletown, later the Castletown Grammar School' Proceedings of the Isle of Man Natural History and Antiquarian Society vol. vii, no. 3 , 1 - 36.


Davey. P.J, 1975a. The Buckley Potteries- An Archaeological Field Report. Buckley Clay Industries Research Committee.


Davey.P.J., 1975b. Buckley Pottery Buckley Clay Industries Research Committee.


Davey.P.J., 1975c. 'Recent Work on the Buckley Potteries' Post-Medieval Archaeology 9, 236 - 239.


Greene.J.P., 1976. 'Black Glazed Pottery and the Composition of its Glaze' Cheshire Archaeological Bulletin iv, 15 - 20


Guilbert. G.C., and Greene. J.P., 1975. 'A Napoleonic Fire Beacon on Moel-y-Gaer, Clwyd' Post -Medieval Archaeology 9, 188-202.


Messham.J.E., 1956. 'The Buckley Potteries' Journal of the Flintshire Historical Society xvi, 31- 61.


Oswald. A., and James. R.E., 1955. 'Tobacco Pipes of Broseley, Shropshire'. Archaeological Newsletter 5, 10 (March) 187 - 190.







Author: Davey, Peter J.


Year = 1976

Month = April

Building = Industrial

Document = Map

Landscape = Industrial

Work = Light Industry

Extra = 1970s

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