Medieval Pottery Masterclass with Paul Blinkhorn

Paul Blinkhorn and DigVenturesDigVentures is thrilled to announce the return of our Medieval Pottery Masterclass with Paul Blinkhorn, one of the UK’s most well-known medieval and Anglo-Saxon pottery experts!

Over the last century, pottery has become an essential tool for archaeologists in deciphering information about the past, including site chronology, trade relationships and technological advancement. Using pottery samples from the DV Leiston Abbey site and Paul’s collection, this fantastic half-day session will teach you the skills and techniques to form a basic understanding of this essential skill.

Paul BlinkhornInstructor

Paul Blinkhorn is best-known as the on-screen pottery expert for Time Team, Pub Dig, and Michael Wood’s Story of the Nation. He is also visiting lecturer at the Universities of Cambridge, Worcester and Leicester, teaching medieval pottery technology, Anglo-Saxon Archaeology and Archaeology & Media. Paul is also the pottery consultant for the University of Bristol’s ongoing excavation/research programme at Berkeley in Gloucestershire, and am also a Visiting Fellow at the department. A selection of Paul’s academic papers, pottery reports and lecture scripts are available on line at

Course Programme

12:30 – 2:30 Everything you ever wanted to know about medieval pot but were afraid to ask.

This part of the class will cover all the basics with regard to understanding medieval pottery – how it was made, where it was made (with the focus on the potteries supplying Suffolk and high-status sites), what it was used for, how to identify it, how it changed over time, a rough guide to dating it on stylistic grounds, and how it is recorded by pottery analysts. Don’t worry, there’s tea breaks – it’s a lot to take in!

3:00 – 5:00 Hands-on session

Using the pottery from the DV dig at Leiston Abbey, participants will handle, identify, and record pottery from the excavations, using microscopes and a reference collection of the common pottery types in the area, and recording the data on pro-forma sheets. Participants will finish with a good, basic, working knowledge of medieval pottery, particularly of the kind commonly found in Suffolk.

Remember, the first million sherds are the hardest!


We will provide pottery samples, microscopes and other essentials. Just bring your enthusiasm and willingness to learn!

The Schedule

Friday 17 July 2015, 12:30– 5:00pm, plus dinner at 6:30pm and evening lecture at 7:30pm (optional)

Fee: £85 per person, £65 for Venturers

Please arrive at the DigVentures Site Office at the gorgeous medieval ruins of Leiston Abbey no later than 12:00pm for a short orientation, where you will learn more about the site and the specific activities of the class. Tuition will finish at 5:00pm, after which you can carry on working individually or meet up with our thirsty field school diggers in the Wattle & Daub, our on-site pop-up pub!

Dinner will be served at 6:30pm, and will be followed by Paul’s evening lecture, ‘A Day in the life of Time Team’, at 7:30. Both of these activities are optional, but we do hope you will stay on to get the full experience.


The course is a half-day, but we appreciate that many of you may need to stop over before return travel on Friday. You are welcome to camp with us on site. We are truly spoiled with our campsite, nestled within the Abbey ruins. There are amenities on site such as showers, loos and laundry – and even a billiard table! You must let us know when you bookif you intend to stay overnight, and there will be a £10 fee payable upon arrival.

Don’t camp? Not a bother – we’re just three miles from the Suffolk coast and its lovely seaside towns such as Aldeburgh and Southwold, and there are plenty of holiday camps, hotels and B&Bs in the area.

Dinner will be provided if you decide to stay overnight. We’re very excited about the food – Pro Corda has a lovely dining area, and the food is delicious! There will be vegetarian options and plenty of fruit and veg, but please note that this is a school, not a restaurant. If there’s anything you really can’t live without, please do feel free to bring it along.

*If you’re very particular, have allergies or certain foods you can’t live without, please bring these along.

* You must be 17 years or older to participate, or accompanied by a parent who is also a registered participant.

 Want more info? Click here for FAQs about the site location!

*If you are already a Venturer, give us a ring on 0333 011 3990 or send an email to for instructions on how to book your discounted rate.

You will be joining our team whilst the excavation is in full swing, and will have the opportunity to use our dig and the abbey site in your training. You are very welcome to have a look in the trenches and take maximum advantage of the opportunity to be a part of a research dig on a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The more, the merrier!

Click here to register

(once you’ve clicked through, you will need to select the green ‘Support Now’ button in the right hand column, and then choose ‘Medieval Pottery Masterclass’ from the drop down menu!)

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Written by DigVentures

Fascinated by archaeology? DigVentures runs excavations that anyone can be part of. From Roman ruins and medieval castles, to Bronze Age monuments and industrial heritage, you can choose to dig alongside our team, help out in the Finds Room, take an online course, or become a Subscriber for even more ways to enjoy archaeology with our team.

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