Broken blue and white stoneware vessel
Raeren stoneware jug

Vessels made by stoneware potters in Raeren, a town in present-day Belgium, appear glossy brown because they were washed with iron oxide before being fired at a high temperature in a salt glaze kiln. By the mid-1580s, Raeren potters began producing vessels decorated with cobalt blue on gray fabric. Due to political unrest in the 1590s, many prominent Raeren potting families moved to the Westerwald region, and there they produced the same forms with decorations using molds they had previously used in Raeren.  Therefore, the two ceramic types are difficult to distinguish, which sometimes leads to the identification of all blue and gray stoneware of the era as Westerwald.  However, the brown slip on the Raeren gray-bodied and cobalt blue vessels differentiates them from Westerwald.  


Only a few baluster jug sherds in Jamestown Rediscovery’s archaeological collection have been identified as Raeren blue and gray stoneware. Their interiors are notably brown because of the iron oxide wash that was added before they were fired.  As previously noted, Westerwald potters did not make use of the iron oxide wash.


Fabric: Dense, well-worked, high-fired gray fabric, with few fissures and no visible inclusions.

Glaze: Glossy salt glaze. 

Form and Decoration: Blue and gray baluster jugs decorated with sprig-molded friezes and brown on the interior have been recovered from James Fort contexts. Also excavated from fort contexts are small, shallow brown saltglazed oil lamps with pinched rims. One round brown saltglazed spindle whorl, recovered from disturbed contexts, may date to the James Fort period.

selected artifacts

related images


Gaimster, David R.M. (1997) German Stoneware 1200-1900: Archaeology and Cultural History. British Museum Press, London.

Hurst, John G., David S. Neal, and H.J.E. van Beuningen (1986) Pottery Produced and Traded in North-West Europe 1350-1650. Rotterdam Papers VI. Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam.

Kiser, Robert Taft (2006) The Origin of American Blue-and-Gray Stoneware. In Notes on Virginia No. 50. Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Richmond, VA.