Highhays, Kilkenny: A Medieval Pottery Production Centre in South-East Ireland [Hardback]

Emma Devine (Author); Cóilín Ó Drisceoil (Author)

ISBN: 9781789258530 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Year of Publication: 2022 | Language: English 368p, H297 x W210 (mm) Full colour

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Highhays, Kilkenny


This richly illustrated book presents the first comprehensive study of the making and marketing of pottery in medieval Ireland. Focusing on a well-preserved 14th-century pottery production centre which was excavated in 2006 at Highhays, outside the walls of the renowned Anglo-Norman town of Kilkenny in south-east Ireland, the authors describe its kiln, workshops and working areas, as well as its ‘Highhays Ware’ products: jugs, jars, cooking-pots, money-boxes and ridge tiles.

Foremost amongst the outputs from the kiln site were high-quality, wheel-thrown, green-glazed jugs that were closely modelled on French Saintonge and Bristol Redcliffe archetypes and the volume describes the distinctive processes, kiln-firing technology and raw materials that were employed to produce these, and the other wares, represented on the site. The book also presents the results of an innovative plasma spectrometry and petrological analysis of Highhays Ware, which facilitated identification of the source for the raw potting clays areas – located at a considerable distance from Highhays in north county Kilkenny – used in its production, in addition to allowing for a study of the uncharacteristically broad distribution of the ware throughout the south-east of Ireland. The authors also place the production of pottery at Highhays in its broader context by presenting an overall review of the archaeological and historical evidence for pottery making and consumption in medieval Ireland, as well as by exploring the cultural background and social status of potters in the Anglo-Norman colony. Supporting the analysis and interpretation of the Highhays site and its assemblage are specialist and scientific contributions on the pottery, tiles, ceramic production material, metal finds, coins and archaeobotanical and animal bone remains from the site, archaeomagnetic and radiocarbon dating and plasma spectrometry and petrological analysis.

Table of Contents

List of figures
List of tables
Authors and contributors
Note on conventions
Archaeological excavation archive
1. Introduction, by Emma Devine and Cóilín Ó Drisceoil
2. The pottery production centre excavations (Area 1, Period 1), by Emma Devine, Cóilín Ó Drisceoil and Niamh Curtin
3. Bake-yard excavations (Area 2, Period 1), abandonment and subsequent land-use (Areas 1 and 2, Periods 2 and 3), by Cóilín Ó Drisceoil
4. The products of the Highhays pottery, by Cóilín Ó Drisceoil, Clare McCutcheon and Joanna Wren
5. Highhays Ware, a provenance and distribution study, by Niamh Curtin, Cóilín Ó Drisceoil, Michael J. Hughes and Richard Unitt
6. Non-ceramic finds, by Órla Scully, Cóilín Ó Drisceoil, Joe Norton, Jimmy Lenehan and Paul Rondelez
7. Archaeobotanical and charcoal analysis, by Mary Dillon and Ingelise Stuijts
8. Highhays and the archaeology of medieval pottery production and town suburbs in Ireland, by Cóilín Ó Drisceoil
Appendix 1: Archaeomagnetic dating of the pottery kiln at Highhays, Kilkenny, by Vassil Karloukovski and Mark W. Hounslow
Appendix 2: Radiocarbon dates
Appendix 3: Post-medieval pottery, by Clare McCutcheon
Appendix 4: Post-medieval clay building material, by Joanna Wren
Appendix 5: Animal bone, by Karin Ilseth
Appendix 6: Disarticulated human remains, by Karin Ilseth

Reviews & Quotes

"This book is well illustrated throughout and provides an informative overview of Medieval Kilkenny"

Ulster Archaeological Society (14/12/2022)

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