Period: Iron Age (500 BC - 700 AD)


Project title: Krukker i bål og ovn


Researcher: Anne Rosenberg Andersen, Lone Claudi-Hansen, Merethe Schifter and Signe L. Pedersen, Denmark

Email: anne_r_a(at)


Year: 2009




Iron Age settlements are overflowing with ceramics. The need for pot for housekeeping, farming, food storage and so on was enormous and a constant production of new pots was necessary. The Iron Age lasted more than a thousand years, but we only know of a few finds of kilns. This has lead to new theories; Perhaps Iron Age ceramics was fired on open fires instead. But which method would be best? Are kilnfired vessels more durable than vessels fired in open fires? Which method is the easiest to control? Which method takes the shortest time and uses the least fuel? Archaeologist Anne Garhøj Andersen and her colleagues will test and compare a collection of Iron Age ceramics fired in an open fire and in a reconstructed Iron Age kiln. It is to be settled how each firing method effects the quality and properties of the ceramics. The use of time and fuel will likewise be compared.



The Researcher's Conclusions:


This project is a continuation of an experiment at the Land of Legends in 2007, focusing on reconstruction of a pottery kiln from the pre-roman Iron Age from the Kildebjerg find in Jutland. Based on that experiment we wanted to compared the firing of ceramics in prehistoric kilns and in open fires. Thus it was the aim of the experiment to fire the same number of pots in respectively the fire and kiln - 10 pots in each place. With guidance from the Pottery of the Land of Legends, we decided to make a fast firing in the fire and a long lasting firing in the kiln - reconstructed from the find from Dätgen in Germany. The preliminary results quickly showed that the open fire was not only faster method but used far less firewood in the process. The ceramics produced in with both firing methods were of the same high quality, but the kiln firing took all of 18 hours. So far it is apparent that a quick firing in open fire is a good alternative to kiln firing. This is interesting in relation to archaeological field observation; Firing in an open fire does not leave the same traces as kiln or pit firings. This means a new interpretation of the archeological traces of ceramic production.


Reference number HAF 22/08