The quality of Grooved Ware pottery discovered on Brú Na Bóinne's ancient Neolithic site varies significantly. Some pieces show great skill and precision, while other vessels are cruder in their construction. Large urns such as this one would require a highly skilled potter to construct them and would have made for a hugely impressing display during the rituals that took place at the Boyne Valley.
This magnificent replica urn is in the Irish Grooved Ware style, which archaeologists unearthed in abundance at Boyne valley. When making this urn, we took inspiration from over 500 sherds of Grooved Ware discovered during an excavation of a circular wooden structure at Knowth and the numerous sherds from Newgrange and Dowth.
The Boyne valley's rich lands have been attracting communities to settle and farm the land for at least 6000 years. These early communities began the epic challenge of designing and constructing the complex and awe-inspiring passage tombs of Knowth, Newgrange and Dowth. Erected around 3300 BC, the artistry and engineering skills required to build these passage tombs give us insight into these neolithic settlers' highly sophisticated society, who probably took years to construct each tomb.
The local communities used these magnificent structures as burial chambers. It is believed that these tombs, like the numerous other monuments within the area, were used for ceremonies and rituals. The reconstructed tomb at Newgrange gives us a magical insight into one of the rituals that took place during the winter solstice. As the sun rises on the morning of the winter solstice, a shaft of light enters the tomb through the roof box that sits above the entrance to the passage. This golden light floods the length of the passage and illuminates the main chamber and its three alcoves. This fantastic event lasts for around 17 minutes each time it happens before the chamber begins to dim again for another year.
Smoke fired Terracotta
Approx. 178 mm tall 200 mm diameter
Completely hand-built, from clays similar in character to those used by the original potters, this vessel has been fired in a wood fire to emulate the original's surface colouration. It has finished with beeswax polish, a material also identified in residue analysis of the originals. When there is evidence of Neolithic potters' tool use, I have replicated such tools using stone, wood, shell, bone, and antler based on original finds or information gained from marks on original artefacts.
This pot has been fired to emulate the ancient firing conditions. The original pot was fired in an open wood fire, in close contact with the fuel, a process that leaves its mark on the clay as variations in the surface colour. However, the low temperatures achieved in open firings also result in relatively weak pots, so this pot has been fired to a somewhat higher temperature to strengthen it, in a unique firing process that allows me to achieve an authentic appearance to the pot.
Health and Safety
This pot is a Museum Quality Replica made using the tools and techniques that ancient potters would have used during the Neolithic era. As this is an unglazed pot with a porous surface, it will absorb some of the flavours during the cooking process, which does add to the taste of future dishes. However, it does also mean that this pot does not meet modern Health and Safety standards, and therefore, we do not advise that it be used for cooking. When Neolithic cooks cooked in these pots, they relied on applying sufficient heat to the pot and contents to ensure that heat killed all bacteria. Heating to over 70°C for at least 10 minutes would have killed most disease-causing bacteria, and temperatures of 100°C would do even more.
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