Pottery Kilns/ Tile Kilns/Brick Kilns.

Introduction to kilns excavated by the late Con Ainsworth.

Medieval pottery and tile kilns excavated at Binsted in 1963-66. The earliest pottery kiln was a Musty type 2 example which was superseded by a tile kiln. The kiln was in use during the late 13th century/early 14th century producing mainly cooking pots in a coarse, red firing fabric. The other pottery kiln was slightly later in date than the tile kiln, probably late 14th century/early 15th century, and was similar to a type 4a kiln but with two subsidiary side flues. It produced pottery in a sandy firing fabric, often with flint inclusions. Forms include cooking pots, bowls and jugs. The tile kiln produced roof tiles, ridge tiles, decorated floor tiles and chimney pots. The finds are in Worthing Museum.https://picasaweb.google.com/archresearch/BinstedKiln2005 copy and past into browser. W.A.S. excavation photos.


Pottery was probably made at Binsted in the early 14th century, some inhabitants being surnamed at Potte in 1332 and in the early 15th century. Kilns stood on a pocket of Reading Beds clay where Binsted Lane meets the lane from Walberton. The southward slope has been made steeper by digging clay. Two of the kilns and a workshop there, in use in the later 14th century, produced mainly coarse red or sandy cooking pots Fragments of Binsted ware, with its distinctive decorations and glazes, are distributed widely both ways along the Sussex coast and to a lesser extent inland. The later kiln continued in production until c. 1425. One man called Tyler was taxed at Binsted in 1332, and making other pottery may have been subsidiary to making floor tiles and crested ridge tiles. (Sherds of green-glazed medieval pottery have been found near the kiln site, at Church farm, and at the former Pescod’s Croft.) The kiln site, called All the World in the 17th century, was still used in 1715 as a clay pit. In 1738 Thomas Fowler of Marsh farm was concerned with a brickyard.  Four 17th-century tile kilns, where lime may also have been burnt, once stood further north, where the Reading Beds join the Upper Chalk, in what were by 1965 the Slindon Gravel Co. pits.  The names of Brick Kiln copse and piece recorded in 1838 suggest that bricks and tiles may also have been produced from clays in that area. Two of three gravel pits mapped in 1896 were then still in use.

The first excavation of tile and pottery kilns by Con Ainsworth in the 1960s. Con in middle of picture, double click to enlarge.

A Report on the excavation of the pottery and tile kilns at Binsted West Sussex.

4 tons of pottery sherds were recovered,= approximate 1 million shreds.


The report was written by the late Con Ainsworth.

Transcribe by Rodney Gunner from notes typed out by Con.

This medieval tile and pottery kiln site is located on a valley side, were the Eocene clays of the Reading beds can be worked beneath their cover of Pleistocene sand and Coombe rock. The products’ of this site include an extensive range of ceramics, usually considered to be representative of late 13th C. to early 14th C., and include the well decorated and glazed jugs classified under the generic name of West Sussex Ware.

Example of wares with curvelinear white decorations under glaze, were also found.

The products of the kiln include in addition to normal roofing tile, rectangular decorated floor tiles, crennelated and glazed ridge tiles, chimney pots or ventilators, and other roof and floor furniture.

Both kilns are aligned north/south, but built back to back. The tile kiln stoking area faces north, and the pot kilns stocking area faces south. The pot kiln is built on a base of tile wasters. Underlying this base, and extending under the south end of the tile kiln, however, is a layer of pottery wasters’ in charcoal, which must represent an earlier phase of pot production. The wares in this area are mainly a hard red ware.

The pottery kiln was found to have operated with a number of rebuilding’s and changes of design. Four major phases of such changes have been identified.

The earliest phase is represented by the remains of one wall with a vitrified inner surface and small part of floor.

This phase evidently had two floor re-layings.

The first floor, resting on a puddle chalk surface, was separated from the overlying floor by a layer of charcoal and ash. The portion of surviving wall curved.

The second alteration involved a complete rebuilding of the kiln inside the demolished area of the older kiln. The kiln was built with roofing tile , and was an up draught kiln with twin flues leading from the area with a semicircular chamber.

From analogy with succeeding phases, the spine between the flues carried arches at intervals which supported the oven floor, the gages ascending to the oven through the intervening spaces between arches. The spine of this phase was bonded to the rear wall of the kiln.

The third alteration involved the demolition of part of the spine, and relaying of the floor over the demolished spine, and enlargement of the kiln, which also included the construction of two side flues.

No evidence existed of a spine at this period.

The presence of pot rings burnt into the floor indicates that in this kiln, the pottery was fired on the floor.

No evidence for a separate oven chamber was found.

The fourth phase reverted to the plan of phase two, and involved relaying a spine on the floor of the previous phase; relaying portions of the floor where necessary at the rear of the kiln; the permanent blocking of the west side flue with flints laid in clay, and facing the inner surface with clay.

No evidence of any similar permanent blocking of the east side flue was discovered


Arches constructed of tile were sprung from the spine in alternate gaps, the oven floor being supported on these arches.

The remains of the floor were found in the debris resting on the arches, which were found where they had fallen.

From the abundance of West Sussex Ware found in this latter phase, it is suggested that the more sophisticated kilns of phase 2 and phase 4 were used to fire theses glazed wares, the intervening phase used for the course wares.

The kiln was found to be the usual rectangular structure of the period, in which twin stoking arches passed gases into twin arches carried in transverse walls.

Across the furnace chamber, eight of theses walls were found.

The oven floor was carried on these arches.

A potion of the oven wall was found intact. Complete excavation of the kiln is prevented by a large willow tree, which is growing over and through the kiln structure.

The notes conclude at this point, it is hoped that more can be found.

Many more photos to be added.

Most having never been seen before, plus lots of research notes from Con Ainsworth.

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