Medieval Chimney Pot, 14th century
Medieval Gallery
Gallery 2, Ground Floor


Focus on the Object

This cheeky chimney pot (or, more properly, a smoke-vent) once belched smoke from a merchant’s house in the High Street of 14th-century Oxford. It was found when excavating for the new buildings at Brasenose College in the 19th century.

The arms and base are broken: the bases of many chimney pots tend to be missing as they get broken off when detached from the roof. The facial features of this pot were moulded by hand: you can see where the clay has been smoothed under the nose and round the ear by the potter. The beard and hat have been incised with a pointed tool. The pot is made of unglazed, fired clay. In addition to more standard building materials, such as bricks and tiles, the building trade demanded from the ceramics industry a supply of ridge tiles, decorative roof-finials and louvres to allow for the escape of smoke, like this one.