Antique pottery shards uncovered in Portobello dig

The shards were found in an excavated rubbish dump. Picture: contributed
The shards were found in an excavated rubbish dump. Picture: contributed
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SHARDS of antique pottery dating back to the 1800s have been uncovered in Portobello.

Archaeologists discovered the bright yellow glazed pieces – believed to be in the shape of a dog – in a rubbish dump excavated on the Promenade.

The seaside resort was home to a thriving ceramics industry for more than 200 years, but the last pottery closed its doors in the 1970s.

Initial examinations by a ceramics expert from the Portobello Heritage Trust found that the shards dated back to the early 19th century, revealed chairwoman Dr Margaret Munro.

She said: “It is very exciting as we found shards which have never been found in Portobello before.

“We think the pieces make up the shape of a yellow ceramic dog sculpture, which is very sophisticated compared to what we thought they were producing.

“It shows the kilns were producing really sophisticated pottery there in the early 1800s.”

Factories appeared in the area in the 1760s, producing a range of ceramics, glassware and earthenware.

Dr Munro said: “The archaeologists were pleased to find such early shards, particularly examples of glazed ­pottery which haven’t been found there before.” The pieces will be taken for examination by experts at the AOC Archaeology group, who helped to run the event known as Dig ­Portobello.

These examples were found buried 1.5m deep behind the Promenade, and the spread of shards confirms that ­broken pottery was used all over ­Portobello to level the ground for building, Dr Munro said.

She added: “There were a lot more questions raised than there were answered, but it was a very exciting find.”

While excavating the paved square in Bridge Street, beside the Figgate Burn, volunteers also found a tarred road underneath the decorative brick ­surface.

Using a small digger to break through, the archaeologists unearthed several walls dating from different time periods, raising questions about how many different potteries had been sited there over time.

Councillor Richard Lewis, the city’s culture leader, said: “This is a community project and it is really exciting that local residents have been able to take part and discover ­sections of Portobello that have been buried for almost 250 years.

“The findings will help us understand what life was like when the area was known for its thriving ceramics industry, and I hope our volunteers will feel encouraged to discover more about the history of their community, and champion the importance of heritage projects such as this.”

A full archaeological report on the dig is expected next year.