Black-glazed earthenware base sherd
Essex blackware base

Essex post-medieval blackware (EPMB) developed from the medieval English black-glazed pottery type known as Cistercian ware, so called because it was first discovered on Cistercian monastic sites. Blackware was produced in the North of England, the Midlands, and East Anglica, and it is difficult to attribute individual vessels to their place of manufacture. However, it is believed that the few examples from ca. 1608-1624 James Fort features were made just outside of London in Harlow, Essex. Harlow potteries were producing well-turned blackware vessels for London markets by the late 16th century, which were likely transported to London by land, rather than by river.


Fabric: EPMB fabrics are fine, dense, hard, and well worked, and contain few obvious inclusions. Upon magnification, quartz and chalk-like inclusions in the fabric are notable.  Fabrics are dark reddish-orange to brown in color.

Glaze: Lead glazes cover the vessels all over except for the base exteriors, and appear shiny and black from the addition of copper oxides.  Glazes under magnification appear to be very dark reddish-brown to black, with mottling from tiny inclusions in the clay. 

Decoration: All vessels are decorated with multiple exterior cordons.

Form: Examples of EPMB from James Fort include mugs and a large, two-handled cup thought to be a posset pot. The vessels are thin-bodied and wheel-thrown, and have vertical strap handles.

related images


Davey, Wally and Helen Walker (editors) (2009) The Harlow Pottery Industries. Medieval Pottery Research Group Occasional Paper 3. Dorset Press, Dorchester, England.

Straube, Beverly A. (2017) Jamestown, Virginia: Virginia Company Period. In Ceramics in America, Robert Hunter and Angelika R. Kuettner, editors. University Press of New England for the Chipstone Foundation: Hanover, NH.