This small pipkin was an important cooking vessel used at Jamestown during its earliest years. Three short legs allowed the pipkin to be placed directly into hot coals. The blackened, sooty spots around the vessel base is cooking evidence. The short, hollow handle allowed the cook to insert a stick to remove it from the fire. Because the handle was hollow, it cooled quickly so the hot vessel could be picked up.
The size of this pipkin indicates that it was used for making small servings for one or two individuals. Although food supplies were shared during James Fort’s first years, it appears that food preparation was up to each individual. After Martial Law was instituted in 1610, food preparation became a communal activity that necessitated larger vessels to cook for many. Thus, as the archaeological record demonstrates, pipkins increased in size over time at Jamestown.
The pipkin pictured here was made in the border region between Surrey and Hampshire in England, but pipkins made in London, North Devon, Essex, and the West Somerset region are also represented in the Jamestown Rediscovery Archaeological Collection. At least four different pipkins were discarded in Jamestown’s first well, which John Smith wrote was dug by January 1609. Pipkins were also recovered from two of the most likely spaces to find cooking vessels: the ca. 1608-1610 Kitchen Cellar, and the ca. 1608-1617 Blacksmith Shop/Bakery.