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(N6) - Roman Pottery with ‘Friends of Highgate Roman Kilns’

Woodside Works, Summersby Road, London, N6 5UH
(N6) - Roman Pottery with ‘Friends of Highgate Roman Kilns’

Course dates

  • Thu, 27 Jun '24   10:30am – 2:30pm BST
  • Thu, 11 Jul '24   10:30am – 1:30pm BST
  • Thu, 18 Jul '24   10:30am – 1:30pm BST
  • Thu, 25 Jul '24   10:30am – 1:30pm BST
  • Thu, 1 Aug '24   11am – 12:30pm BST
  • Thu, 12 Sep '24   10:30am – 12:30pm BST


Turning Earth Highgate
Intermediate Level
Teacher: Shem Morgan

Don't miss out on this one-of-a-kind project!

We have started a collaboration with Friends of Highgate Roman Kilns (the authority and a charity primarily composed of historians, archaeologists, and educators of the pottery heritage of the local area) and we have created a very special course for you.

After processing the clay from scratch, making historic forms with reference material, burnishing, and slip decorating your pots, they will be fired in a Roman-style kiln in the Woods. It will be the grand finale, where you can ask any question you have to our trained experts and take your pots home.

All materials will be provided (just bring your apron and your tools).

PLEASE NOTE - this course is not designed for complete beginners. You will need to be able to confidentially throw a cylinder.

Level: Intermediate


Please see below a more detailed structure of the course.

Processing clay from the source (27th June)
We will be venturing outside the studio to the woods across the road where we will be collecting the clay set aside by the groundskeepers for our use. We’ll take you through an introduction to the history of the clay in the area and then take back to the studio our collected clay to be processed. We will take you step by step through the 6-week method of ‘wet processing’ clay and condense it down to a few hours.
Please note: This will be an active day with hills and some heavy lifting and digging, practical footwear is required.

Making Roman vessels based on archeological findings in Highgate Woods (11th and 18th July)
We will run a series of throwing workshops using the processed clay based on the historic forms found in Highgate Woods. We have selected prominent forms to focus on reproducing that give an indication of the manufacturing site and the typical weres the Roman potters produced. We have been given unique access to original Roman pottery sherds to see firsthand the details of parts of the original ceramic forms found in 50AD-120AD. We have also been given high-resolution resource images of full pots that are currently in the British museum and the V&A.
Please note: this requires a comfortable level of throwing understanding, particularly centering and pulling up walls.

Burnishing and applying Terra Sigillata (25th July)
We will take your pots from the previous class and select a few to show you the traditional method of applying terra sigillata and burnishing to produce sealed surfaces. We will also be applying slip decoration using combs and other traditional tools and speculating on the significance and use of the decorations found on the sherds.

Guided Talks from FoHRK on the first and second century Roman pottery site in Highgate Woods (1st August)
We have partnered up with the Friends of Highgate Roman Kilns (FoHRK) to produce this one-of-a-kind course and they have been the driving force behind maintaining the history of the pottery manufacturing site in Highgate. As part of the course, they will be taking you on a tour of the area where the kilns were excavated and explaining more about the history of the sherds themselves and what we know of the nearly 2000-year-old pottery site. This tour will take you through the woods and end by the information hut where the newly refurbished excavated kiln will be housed.

A replica Roman Kiln is being constructed (by us) and wood-fired in the traditional way (First Week of September, time and date TBC)
We will take your pots as greenwere to be fired in the newly constructed replic kiln located in the woods themselves. This kiln will be put together by some of our team at Turning Earth along with FoHRK and the famed Roman kiln maker and historic potter Graham Taylor from Potted History.
This will be a reduction wood firing which involves stacking the pots together inside the kiln, building part of the kiln around the pots and firing for 8 hours using wood to achieve a reduced atmosphere. This creates a wonderful black surface on some of the pots which is typical of the Roman Period and creates a unique surface. Due to the nature of this unique type of firing, there is limited space in the kiln and so we will only select 3-5 pots each depending on size to fit into the kiln which we will get you to select before the firing date. These pots will be unglazed to fully take on the benefits of this particular type of firing.

Although there will not be an opportunity to get involved with the kiln building or firing there will be a chance to watch from a safe distance. This will also be recorded on our social media platforms for those who don't get a chance to make it to the actual firing in September.

Aftercare and results of the pottery (12th September)
After the firing has happened in September, we will relocate the pots back over to the studio to talk about aftercare and waterproofing for functional wear. There are many ways to seal porous unglazed woodfired work and we want to discuss the benefits and the disadvantages of sealing the pottery.



Ticket (bring your pottery tools)

Course ticket - for all 6 dates.


Woodside Works
Summersby Road
N6 5UH


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