Beaker Folk Pottery Beaker Folk Bronze Age Pottery

Durrington Walls 2006

Follow this link to see 2007 page.

The English Heritage guided Stonehenge Environment Project, included a living history display and demonstrations, together with access to several of the ongoing archeaological digs being done in the area.

The Age of Bronze is a Society which experiments with the Living History of the Bronze Age, showing and explaining the life to the Public.

They appeared in 2006 at Durrington Walls, very near Woodhenge and not far from Stonehenge, over the late August Bank Holiday weekend and the 9th & 10th September 2006.

This is a huge henge site, being excavated by teams of archaeologists from several universities as part of a larger Stonehenge Environment Project, they have found a "very interesting" square structure of Neolithic date, which should increase our understanding of very early construction.

For information about the Project take a look at the 2005 report :-

The site was visited by the Time Team a couple of years ago. An important prehistoric ceremonial route has been found from the adjacent river Avon to Stonehenge. Certainly the whole feature has the feel of an amptheatre, with a massive chalk wall around a rising valley.

Evidence of feasting has been found, so this was probably the location of the catering concessions, with young pigs being a house speciality!

It is famous for "Grooved Ware" a late Neolithic/early Bronze Age style of pottery - with decorations consisting of (you guessed it!) grooves.

Durrington Walls Grooved Ware Urn

The Age of Bronze activities included the construction of a dwelling, artifact displays, food preparation, cooking (feasting!) and archery.

To find out more about the Age of Bronze follow this link.

Bill Crumbleholme demonstrated making pottery and wife Diane (now elevated to role of Chief Stoker) looked after the bonfire firing. Set out below are some images of the firing and pottery from the two weekends in 2006.

Beaker Folk Durrington Walls Urns
"Day One!" Four urns are being gently heated

Beaker Folk Durrington Walls Urns
Diane tending the fire
The current archaeological trenches are behind in the bottom of the valley

Beaker Folk Durrington Walls Urns
Four hours later the fire has been built up over the pots

Beaker Folk Durrington Walls Urns
One of the urns roasting

Beaker Folk Durrington Walls Urns
The fire starts to burn down, revealing the urns. The fairly high wind starts to cool the exposed rims and this leads to some cracking as they shrink, while the part still in the embers stays hot.


Beaker Folk Durrington Walls Urns
an all purpose "Cooking Pot"

Beaker Folk Durrington Walls Urns
a collared urn

Beaker Folk Durrington Walls Urns
a "hybrid" urn

Beaker Folk Durrington Walls Urns
an urn

Beaker Folk Durrington Walls Urns
"Day Two" - the slow burn starts again
Woodhenge is on the skyline in the middle

Beaker Folk Durrington Walls Urns
A different fuel - charcoal packed around the pots - after pre-heating, but before the mass of timber

Beaker Folk Durrington Walls Urns
An urn with three quarters of a collar - faulty manufacture or damage during firing?

Beaker Folk Durrington Walls Urns
A beaker inspired by those found with the Amesbury Archer, a couple of miles down the road.

Conclusions :: The conditions were not good for firing, the high wind made controlling the rate of burning difficult and tended to cool off the exposed pottery, leading to some cracked rims.
The visiting public were very enthusiastic and interested in the techniques, the authenticity of the potters clothing was not questioned too closely and their newly made sheepskin boots were very comfortable and did not burst into flames near the fire!
The passing archaelogists were kind about the experimentation and the pottery on display.

9th-10th September 2006 :-

Beaker Folk Durrington Walls
"Day One" Diane doing the Dance of Gentle Fire

The Pots are looking scorched after 4 hours preheating

The crowds gather to watch the flames and listen to Diane explain

Now for the serious Living History! At last a good use for those urns!

Thanks to Cranborne Stores for the Pig Products

Last Day - Inspection Time!

The Last Urn - the one that made it all worth while!

Conclusion of second weekend :-
The firing went fairly well to start with, but on fueling up several of the bases spalled, perhaps they had not been preheated enough as the space left in the middle of the ring of pots was not very big, so the fire was too small.
The cooling problem still gave rise to a couple of small cracks in rims - but the Stoker says that was just bad manufacture! The Jury is out on that one. Maybe next time we will put some shards over the rims to protect them.

The Living History Feast on Saturday marked Bill's Birthday in excellent style.

The passing public and archaeologists were very encouraging and purchased quite a few pots as reminders of their visit.
Phil Harding was demonstrating flint knapping near by which brought in the crowds and also provided us with a source of flint waste for use as inclusions in a future batch of clay.