Sunday, 27 April 2014

Cistern Bung Holes

This post is for Facebook's London Mudlarker who has given up asking me to post on bung holes. Revealing our ultimate nerdiness. Not a great deal to say about these, part of the reason for the delay - but LM here you are.  

From time to time I've noticed largish earthenware shards with a hole surrounded by another piece of applied clay. Not all that appealing or interesting but certainly a 'type' so I decided to take one home with me, intending to work out what it was some time later. 

Medieval Bung Holes from Cisterns. Left Coarse Whiteware bundhole from 1340 to 1440 AD, 
They are bung holes from cisterns. Cistern comes from the middle English word cisterne which in turn is derived from the Latin cista for 'box' or the Greek kiste for 'basket'. They are waterproof vessels for holding liquids. 

Probably the most interesting thing about them is that they are very old and still hold the original potter's thumb indentations. Many will be medieval and others will be from the Tudor period. 


Coarse Borderware with Bung Hole 1340 - 1440 (British Museum) 
Some commentators speculate that their increase in the 15th century was due to an increase in home brewing and the popularity of beer. 

Medieval Cistern York (Doug Fitch Blog) 

London Redware Cistern 1480-1600 (Museum of London) 

3 comments:

  1. I will confess to absolutely loving these and taking home any that I find. Probably goes back to my childhood obsession with holed stones from the beach!

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  2. Finally I know what these are! Thank you

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