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Name: Medieval tilery - Jubilee Square, Reading, Berkshire
HER Number: MRM15791
Record Type: Monument

Grid Reference: SU 719 728
Administrative Area/Parish:Reading, Reading, Berkshire
Map:Show location on Streetmap

Summary

A partially demolished medieval tilery which contained the remains of a solitary kiln, a well, possible floors, rubbish pits and extraction pits.

Monument Types

Description

The tilery was located fronting onto Silver Street and Crown Street. This location would have been next to the main southern route into the centre of Reading during the medieval period, and would probably have been deliberate as the tilery would require good transportation links.

The evidence for the tilery at this site comprises of a number of structures including a kiln, clay floors, and associated pits. The kiln was rectangular in shape and measured 5.30m long x 2.10m wide and was divided into two chambers with the firing chamber located to the east and the stokehole located in the western chamber. The stoke hole fueled the kiln via two flue arches formed of tiles.

Only the firing chamber was walled measuring 2.04m east-west x 2.00m north-south internally. The walls were composed of mortared peg tiles with the occasional floor tile. All the walls appear to have been bonded together. The eastern wall was truncated in the north-eastern corner by a modern concrete pile. Only a 0.50m length of the southern wall remained in situ due to demolition and subsequent damage. The height of the remains varied from between 0.45m to 1.30m with the best preserved section in the north-western corner. The northern wall contained the remains of five 0.40m wide recesses. Within the recesses were the remaining courses of mortared tiles which, when complete, would have formed the tiled arches that would have supported the kiln floor. No in situ evidence of the kiln floor was present. The firing chamber floor (the base of the kiln) was also not present.

The stokepit measured 2.60m long x 2.20m wide. The pit was cut directly into the gravel and was roughly D-shaped in plan. The stokepit was not lined with tiled walls like the firing chamber. It is possible that it was timber lined. The stoke pit was filled with burnt deposits of sand, clay and gravel containing charcoal flecks, red-fired clay and fire cracked flints, with a similar deposits immediately to the west of the kiln. These deposits were likely to be by-products relating to the firing of the kiln. Fragments of the kiln structure were recovered from the various demolition layers dumped within the structure after its disuse.

The form of the kiln is a typical medieval type corresponding with English Heritage tilery Type C. Evidence recovered from the site demonstrates that the kiln was producing roof tiles. Both the firing chamber and the stoke pit contained fragmentary or near complete two round nail hole peg tiles and curved ridge tiles. These tiles would have been in common use on buildings in Reading by the second half of the 14th century. The tilery is likely to have produced roof tiles for Reading Abbey and its ancillary buildings.

Archaeomagnetic dating of the kiln produced a date of between AD 1365-1400 as the last date of firing carried out in this kiln. After its last firing date the kiln appears to have been partially robbed and demolished. The reason for the kiln's abandonment is unclear.

To the south-west of the kiln was a square well measuring 1.30m wide and 3.10m deep. The well cut deep into the gravel and would have provided the water necessary for tilery. The well was backfilled with dark yellow brown sandy clayey silt which contained inclusions of peg and ridge tile wasters. Animal bone remains were also recovered from the well. The backfill also contained three decorated and one plain glazed floor tile dated to 1270-1320, as well as medieval pottery dated to 1340-1400. The latter dates to the lifetime of the above kiln, but the decorated pottery is of earlier date and may therefore have been produced at an earlier kiln nearby.

Directly east of the well and south-west of the kiln were three clay layers with chalk inclusions. These layers may be the remains of the internal surfaces or floors of workshops, drying stores or accommodation.

A number of pits were also located at the site. These pits may have been used for gravel extraction or may be associated with tilery activity, such as water or clay storage pits. One large pit of unclear function was located closely to the kiln. Its proximity there might suggest an association with the kiln; for example the extraction of clay/brickearth for use in the kiln <2>.


<1> GeoQuest Associates, 2001, Archaeomagnetic Analysis of Medieval Tile Kiln, Context 7240, Jubilee Square, Reading (Unpublished document). SRD12744.


<2> AOC Archaeology Group, 2007, Jubilee Square, Reading, Berkshire - An Archaeological Archive Report (Unpublished document). SRM13421.


<3> Babtie Group, 2001, Medieval Tile Kiln - Jubilee Square, Reading (Photograph). SRM12891.


<4> AOC Archaeology Group, 2005, Jubilee Square, Reading, Berkshire - Post-Excavation Assessment for an Archaeological Evaluation, Excavation and Watching Brief (Unpublished document). SRM13464.


<5> AOC Archaeology Group, 2007, Jubilee Square, Reading, Berkshire - Publication Text (Unpublished document). SRM13465.

Sources

<1>GeoQuest Associates. 2001. Archaeomagnetic Analysis of Medieval Tile Kiln, Context 7240, Jubilee Square, Reading. [Unpublished document / SRD12744]
<2>AOC Archaeology Group. 2007. Jubilee Square, Reading, Berkshire - An Archaeological Archive Report. [Unpublished document / SRM13421]
<3>Babtie Group. 2001. Medieval Tile Kiln - Jubilee Square, Reading. Prints and Negatives. [Photograph / SRM12891]
<4>AOC Archaeology Group. 2005. Jubilee Square, Reading, Berkshire - Post-Excavation Assessment for an Archaeological Evaluation, Excavation and Watching Brief. [Unpublished document / SRM13464]
<5>AOC Archaeology Group. 2007. Jubilee Square, Reading, Berkshire - Publication Text. [Unpublished document / SRM13465]

Associated Events:

ERD167Jubilee Square, Reading, Berkshire
ERM761Jubilee Square, Reading, Berkshire (Ref: Site code JSQ-01)

Associated Monuments

  • None
  • Associated Finds:

  • FRM12279 - ANIMAL REMAINS (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FRM12278 - SHERD (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1400 AD)
  • FRM12276 - ROOF TILE (Medieval - 1075 AD to 1250 AD)
  • FRM12277 - FLOOR TILE (Medieval - 1270 AD to 1320 AD)
  • FRM12275 - ROOF TILE (Medieval - 1270 AD to 1500 AD)