The Search for one of Somerset's Major Post-Medieval Pottery Product Centres


Over the past thirty years there has been a growing body of archaeological evidence to suggest that a major centre of earthenware pottery production in the 16th to early 19th centuries was based in East Somerset in the area of the villages of Nunney, Trudoxhill and Wanstrow. Its products have been identified on archaeological excavations in Glastonbury, Wells and Bristol among other places.

An early 18th-century jar from excavations in Wells Museum Garden; By courtesy of the Trustees and Managers of Wells and Mendip Museum


The Wanstrow Pottery Group have carried out extensive field-walking in the parish of Wanstrow have been researching the industry and collecting sherds and identifying concentrations of waste material from kiln firing over the past six years.

Members of the Wanstrow Pottery Group with some of their finds


In 2017, we were please to provide a grant from the Maltwood Fund for geophysical surveys to try to locate more precisely some of these production sites. Test-pitting confirmed the former existence of pottery kilns on one particular site but unfortunately all detail had been destroyed by 20th -century activity leaving just scatters of kiln debris. Research is continuing.

One of the test-pits on the site of the kiln which has been reduced to the characteristic red rubble of fired clay
One of the areas surveyed. The test-pits were dig on the site of the two circular patches of burning on the lefthand side. Image by courtesy of Archaeological Survey West

The project is an off-shoot of the parish survey carried out by the Wanstrow History Group and published in 2016: Jefferson, J (ed.) A History of Wanstrow (Wanstrow History Group), a copy of which may be consulted in the SANHS library.