Seeing an ancient face staring back at you from a museum display is a real thrill; it is one of the main reasons that we adore replicating this sought-after style of Roman pottery. Head pots were widely used throughout Roman Britain and are some of the most striking ceramic items produced during Roman rule and seem to have been a speciality of Romano-British potters.
The almost caricature-like features of these pots were individually modelled onto beautifully wheel-thrown jars. A fairly unusual working method for the Romans, who often preferred the quicker convenience of mould decoration.
Believed to have been introduced to Britain by the Roman army, many head pots were discovered in the Colchester area, which was likely a prolific production site.
Today you can see some truly superb head pots on display in the Colchester museum, and we have used these rich examples to inspire this replica. However, they are not limited to Colchester, and there have been a significant number of head potsherd found along Hadrian's wall.
Their function and significance are, as of yet, not fully understood. Many, but by no means all, head pots have smith tools on them, suggesting a link to the God Vulcan. There have also been a number of these pots found in burial settings leading some to believe that this was their main usage. However, the majority have been found in settlement sites, so they were more likely to be used prominently in a domestic setting, perhaps for food storage.
As with all our Museum Quality Replicas, we have made this, as the original would have been, entirely by hand from natural clay and using replicas of the types of tools that the ancient makers would have used. As each one varies, you may not receive the same finish in the image, but you can be sure that it will be one of a kind due to the variations caused by the firing process.
Terracotta, reduction fired
Approx 180 mm tall, 160 mm diameter
Health and Safety
This pot is a Museum Quality Replica made using the tools and techniques that ancient potters would have used during this era. As this is an unglazed pot with a porous surface, it will absorb some of the flavours during the cooking process or when used as food storage, which does add to the taste of future dishes. However, it also means that this pot does not meet modern Health and Safety standards, and therefore, we do not advise that you use it for cooking or storing foodstuffs. When ancient cooks used these pots, they relied on applying sufficient heat to the pot and contents to ensure that the 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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