Anglo-Saxon Pottery

Explore how people lived from day to day in the Anglo-Saxon world by designing your own miniature pots! The Anglo-Saxons were experts in metalwork and pottery. A variety of pots and containers were used on a daily basis for drinking, food storage and as herb containers.

Anglo-Saxon Pottery

Skill Level


Time to Make

1 hour + drying time for air-drying clay (24-48 hours) + varnish

Adult Supervision Needed


How to Make

  1. To make a pot approximately 7cm high:
    Start by making a base for a pot. Break off a small piece of clay then shape it into a 2cm ball. Press the ball clay into a flattened circle 4cm in diameter.
  2. To start building the pot, shape a 4cm clay ball. Press with your fingers to elongate it then gently roll the clay on your work surface into a 12cm long snake shape. Coil the snake into a circle the press it onto the base with the ends slightly overlapping. Blend the coil to the base using a modelling tool. Smooth the clay with your fingers. Add some water if the clay starts to dry out.
    To widen the shape of the pot, add a longer coil on top of the first one made from a 5cm clay ball rolled into a 15cm snake. Use a modelling tool to work the coil onto the clay underneath. Smooth the clay with you fingers on the outside and the inside until the joins have disappeared. Turn the pot around to keep checking the shape of the pot is even all the way round.
  3. To make the top half of the pot, add a smaller coil made from a 4cm clay ball. Use your fingers to blend the clay and draw the shape upwards, tapering it towards the middle as you smooth the surface. Add a smaller coil made from a 3cm ball on top. Pull the clay up to form the neck of the pot then shape it outwards with your fingers.
  4. Press horizontal lines around the side of the pot using a flat-ended modelling tool or use a strip of card. Small vertical lines can be made with the end of a lolly stick pressed vertically into a pattern around the pot. Use the end of paintbrush to make a dot pattern.
    Check the pot again to make sure it looks even all the way round; if any areas need adjusting, carefully push your fingers inside the pot to re-shape the clay.
  5. Leave the pot to dry thoroughly.
  6. Lightly brush black or brown paint over the surface of the pot, or use both for a more mottled effect then leave to dry. Finish the pot with a coat of varnish as a glaze.
  • NOTE: To make a smaller-sized pot (approximately 5cm high) start with a 1cm ball for the
    base then add small coils on top.
Anglo-Saxon Pottery Anglo-Saxon Pottery Anglo-Saxon Pottery

Top Tip

Experiment with different sizes to vary the shape and sizes of your pots. Each pot will be slightly different, depending on the sizes and thickness of the coils. Keep any unused clay wrapped in the packaging inside a plastic bag so it doesn’t dry out.

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