Latest edit 15 Nov 2008.

Interactive version ©2006 R.J.PENHEY          With thanks to the trustees of the Willoughby Memorial Library

The Bourne Archive


Fenland Notes and Queries. Edited by Rev. W.D. Sweeting, Rector of Maxey.

Part 31. October  1896.

This quarterly periodical took the form of a forum in which people sent in questions about the history, ecology and so on of the Fens and the region’s environs and others replied with some sort of answer. Some ‘answers’ seem to have been spontaneous, so qualifying as ‘notes’.

Bourne Economy

602 – Roman Pottery at Bourne. – A very interesting discovery of Roman pottery has recently been made at Bourne. On the 4th of August some workmen engaged in enlarging the gas-works, while digging in a piece of land situate in Eastgate, near the Gas House Yard, came across a quantity of broken pottery, Clearing away the fragments they found five jars, lying bottom upwards. All are about 14 inches in height, and 8 inches in width at the top. Four have handles. There are no lids. Within one inch of the base are tap-holes. The engraving which accompanies this notice has been prepared from a photograph taken by Mr. T. A. Morris, kindly supplied by Mr. Robt. Mason Mills, of Bourne. It will be seen that three at least were imperfect from cracks probably caused by over-heating.

It is right to say that though general opinion pronounces these objects to be Roman, one gentleman who has seen them, and has made a special study of the subject, inclines to the opinion that they are of Early English manufacture.

The broken pottery consisted of a great many pieces, mostly of a yellow or green colour, but nothing perfect. They are very thin, and were clearly worked on a wheel. One red jar, about 6 inches in height, was nearly complete. There was also the base of a jar of dark lead colour, with some thumb marks on it. It is to be noted that Eastgate, where the discovery was made, was formerly known as Potter’s Gate.

Loading photograph of the jars.

                        ANCIENT POTTERY FOUND AT BOURNE

The Gas House Yard will have been at the western extremity of Eastgate (grid reference TF102199), where the gas company’s shop was, rather than on the other, the north side of Spalding Road, where the gasholder stood. The land later became the site of The BRM works and is now that of Richardson’s auction room. It looks to me as though the pots date from very late in the history of the Bourne pottery trade and are from somewhere in the late seventeenth century, though see below. From the picture and the description, these are clearly kiln wasters.

John Moore’s sources indicate both that the trade ended following the fire of 1637 and that Potter Street was not so much Eastgate as the street running across its western end. (Moore quote relating to footnote 10) RJP

FNQ home page       Archive Contents