Accepted paper:

When is a pot still a pot?

Author:

Duncan Brown (English Heritage)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the concept of pottery vessels as 'seconds', considering the validity of pots in terms of their intended function, even if they have not emerged from the kiln in a pristine state. This provides an opportunity to explore the relationship between the pottery-maker and the consumer, as well as those people and the object.

Paper long abstract:

This paper examines the concept of pottery in the form of 'seconds', considering the validity of pots in terms of their intended function, even if they have not emerged from the kiln in a pristine condition. One particular vessel is examined in terms of what happened to it in the kiln, how that affected its final appearance and what that might have meant in terms of value as a saleable commodity and as a functional item. That will lead to a general consideration of the relationship between finish and function and the place pottery might have occupied in a medieval household. One might then reflect upon where, in a medieval scheme of materiality, the lines of ceramic compromise might be drawn. In other words how bad does a pot have to be before it is deemed worthless and useless? From there, it is a short step to a consideration of the continuing functionality of pottery in broken form, although that discussion may be covered more thoroughly by other speakers in the session.

panel S12
Make-do and mend: the archaeologies of compromise?