7th Experimental Archaeology Conference Abstract – Gaynor Wood
Let’s Build a Kiln – Introducing Experimental Archaeology into the University Curriculum
University of Central Lancashire, Preston PR1 2HE
This paper discusses a small project based on the reconstruction of a fourteenth century tile kiln. It hopes to initiate discussion about how we can use reconstruction and experimental projects to inspire the next generation of archaeologists and crafts people, and to work towards further collaboration and sharing of knowledge between these different groups.
This experiment repeated a similar experiment undertaken at Norton Priory Museum, Cheshire in the 1970’s. However this project was primarily designed as a learning experience for students, to explore the impact that planning, researching and managing the project had on them, discovering what the students thought that they learned about the process of replicative experiments, and about their ideas on working together with skilled craftspeople, museum workers and archaeologists.
The kiln was successfully fired and our design tested, with ideas and comments put forward from the archaeologists and ceramicists for new repairs and changes to the design. Both student groups worked well together and shared ideas based on their own subject experience and research, developing skills in project management, co-operative working and communication.
This project challenged and stretched these undergraduate students, introduced them to the practice and concepts of experimental archaeology and inspired their confidence to undertake this type of experimentation. I hope they also learned that experimental work is not just the tool of the “professional” archaeologist but that skilled craftspeople also have much to add to the process.