And yet more GLEANINGS……

Is anyone else enjoying the Wednesday evening TV programme on Prime – Pub Dig? It’s a lousy premise about a couple of blokes, and a few boffins and other factotums, digging up dirt around British pubs while much beer of varying hues gets consumed. It’s not un-missable but if I am home I tune in. Led by one curly-headed bloke whose job it is to ask the questions, it is the other bloke – brawny and bald wearing one gold earring and combat boots -who is simply amazing. Turns out he is an archaeologist and at his best when he is presented with a small shard of pottery that has been unearthed – he swiftly dates it to within a couple of dozen years, can tell where the pot was made and make an intelligent sounding surmise about the pot of which it was once part. Truly, engaging stuff when he says things like, ‘Oh, this’ll be early 1400s – medieval, and from the base of a milk settling pan – just look at where the  milk was absorbed and stained the clay over time because of incomplete glaze layer. The glaze was lead, hand-dusted and in places there just wasn’t enough’ Or, ‘It’s part of a handle from a tankard or jug and late 1600s – early 1700s because if you examine the salting over that almost white body– this is typical of early Staffordshire production from the Elers Brothers’.  Stuff like this makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. That and the vast assortment of different coloured beers ingested makes interesting viewing for anyone with an interest in ceramic history.

Another for the history buff. Books, small, compact and full of useful and interesting information – Shire Library produces many different titles under various headings. One of those headings is ‘Ceramics’ and under that are a couple of dozen titles. I have just been re-reading one of those – The Potteries that offers the history of the six towns that came to be known as Stoke-on-Trent in North Staffordshire in the English Midlands. It is well-illustrated with images of the potters and factories during the hey-days. It also records the development of scale and the building of skills necessary during the industrial revolution when Britain ruled and supplied all those pink bits on the map of the world. Fascinating stuff.

Other Ceramics titles cover individual manufactories such as Spode, Wedgwood, Worcester etc or trace  the evolution and designs for such necessities as Jugs, or Tea and Coffee Cups or Tea and Coffee Pots. Tiles are covered from Medieval through Art Nouveau to 1950s styles. Bricks and Brickmaking is recorded. Household Bygones traces what happened to those items of former daily use but which are no longer made. Those still planning to enter Masterworks’ ‘Is This the Last Supper?’ competition might find reviving an old tradition in a 21stC way is a winner!

Other than the ceramics section there are many others that offer interesting glimpses into our past. Glass, Textile History, Maritime or Military History, Canals and Waterways, Steamboats, Amusement Parks or Scottish Dress are just some of that on offer. Go to …   and they are most inexpensive at Five or Six UK Pounds each…


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