English slipware ceramics form a small part of the Port Royal archaeological assemblage.   Some of the vessel forms indicate beverage consumption and storage (mugs, jugs, bottles), while others were most likely used for food consumption (plates and bowls).  There are also some vessels whose function remains unclear.  Vessel use can be inferred only indirectly from form thus some of these wares may have served more than one purpose.

Some of the vessels from the collection are presented below.  Their forms and decoration suggest that they were used primarly as tableware.  In addition, the vessels are thin-walled and easily broken, and the glaze can be easily damaged.  The presence of this ware at Port Royal suggests a society in which individuals could afford to buy ceramic vessels purely for attraction and for which the user was prepared to sacrifice durability.

This handful of broken pottery provides an important comment on the nature of society and consumption at Port Royal.  It also allows for some clearer insight on the production of household wares in the 17th century, an area of English ceramics that is notoriously vague.

Form:  mug/small jug; straight-collar neck and slightly everted rim

Decoration:  vertical feathered dark reddish brown slip on lower body; patches of olive green color likely sulfide staining caused by the underwater environment

Date:  late 17th century; Staffordshire or Bristol manufacture

Possible Function:  associated with serving/beverage consumption; perhaps used for drinking coffee or chocolate, which were becoming popular in the last decades of the 17th century


Form: posset pot

Decoration:  potter's name: [RICHARD] MEIR and date: [1]. . . , adorned with dots of white slip, surround the neck; dark reddish brown slip on lower body

Date: 1680s - 1690s; Staffordshire manufacture

Function:  Posset pots were individual or communal drinking vessels.  Posset, a mixture of hot milk curdled with alcohol, was a common drink in the post-medieval period.  It was used both as a delicacy and as a remedy for colds.


Form:  partial mug/bowl; attachment of a handle evident on one shoulder

Decoration: dotted dark reddish brown slip around neck; horizontally trailed slip on lower body

Date: late 17th century; Staffordshire or Bristol manufacture

Possible function:  beverage/food (soup) consumption 
This vessel was found in a timber-framed lower class building.  Its provenance suggests that 

slipware vessels in the late 17th century may not have
been confined to the houses of the middle class as has
been previously assumed.

Form:  body sherd

Decoration:  sgraffito (incised) pattern; overlying glaze produces a yellow and light brown surface through which the clay fabric is shown

Date:  1650-1710; North Devon manufacture

In the late 17th century, sgraffito slipware was produced in southwest England, principally in North Devon.  Much of it was exported to the colonies, so to find some pieces at Port Royal is not surprising.


Form:  cup/small storage container (?) with handle on one side (the inverted rim and restricted mouth suggest a use other than beverage consumption)

Decoration:  dark reddish brown slip in a horizontal combed pattern (upper body) and vertical feathered pattern (lower body)

Date:  1680s; Staffordshire or Brisol manufacture

Possible function:  condiment/spice storage jar (a lid may have been attached);
                             drug/ointment pot;
                             sugar bowl; or
                             purely ornamental, brought by an English settler as a keepsake