Beauvais stoneware jug handle
Beauvais stoneware jug handle
  • Object number – 07407-JR
  • Material – Ceramic, Stoneware
  • Place of Origin – France
  • Date – c. 1607-1610
  • Context – First Well
  • Location – Reference Collection
  • Category – Foodways

Rare on Virginia sites, Beauvais stoneware has been found in the Chesapeake region at James Fort and at Jordan’s Journey sites in Prince George County. Elsewhere in North America, Beauvais stoneware is found on 16th- through 18th-century French sites, including South Carolina’s Charles Fort, Maine’s Fort Pentagoet, l’Habitation de Champlain in Quebec, and Montreal (Niellon and Moussette 1981:271, Fig. 61; Faulkner and Faulkner 1987:211; Chrestien and Dufournier 1995:91-101, Gaimster 1997a:305). Hurst et al. write that in England the type is widely distributed in small numbers, but does not appear to be found in the Low Countries due to the prevalence of Rhenish stonewares (1986:105).


Fabric: Light gray stoneware; Hurst et al. note the fabric can be indistinguishable from Siegburg (1986:105). The dense, hard fabrics of examples from James Fort are light to dark gray, and contain numerous black dots and lines.

Glaze: Beauvais stoneware is usually unglazed, but sometimes it bears a reddish-brown ash-glaze.  Glazed and unglazed Beauvais sherds bear a strong resemblance to Siegburg stoneware (Hurst et al. 1986:105). On one of the Virginia examples, the exterior glaze consists of patches staining the surface a reddish brown, without adding gloss or covering the surface texture. The James Fort examples bear an iron oxide wash on their exteriors; one is ash-glazed on the exterior. Their exterior surfaces vary from dull grayish-brown to a glossy reddish-brown with dark brown flecks.

Form: Most forms found in Virginia are small, cylindrical jars, however a jug and a beaker were recovered from James Fort. The vessels are thinly thrown with pronounced interior rilling and diagonal torquing. This torquing is also faintly visible on the exterior surfaces.

The jar form has a roughly finished flat bottom about 67 mm across, then flares slightly to vertical sides which were accidentally scuffed and dented before firing. One one Virginia vessel, a ridged cordon stands about 25 mm below a vertical rim with an exterior bevel. The jug from James Fort has a thickened rim, which is indented on the top edge and squared on the exterior edge. Attached to the rim is the top of a wide vertical strap handle with wide central groove. Two sherds from James Fort are believed to be a small beaker with a pedestal foot that is rolled on the exterior edge.

The jar form is like the “preserves or ointment pots” found in Canada (Niellon and Moussette 1981:491-493, Fig.61.9, Fig.63.151QU-4; Chrestien and Dufournier 1995:99, Fig. 2g). In addition to this shape, Beauvais made a wide variety of forms in stoneware, including bottles, jugs, and large storage vessels.

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