Archaeological excavations at 40 Silver Street have uncovered a previously unknown twelfth century tile kiln with examples of the same floor tiles as used at Reading Abbey.

Berkshire Archaeology asked for an archaeological investigation to be carried out before Reading Borough Council (RBC) granted permission to demolish the warehouse on the site.

Evidence of defences from the English Civil War and siege of Reading in 1643 was expected because such defences are shown on a plan of the time, and have been found in previous excavations in the area, but what was found was even more significant.

Extract from Burt’s etching of the plan of Civil War Defences 1643 – line of defences crosses Silver Street from the SE Salient to Catsgrove (Katesgrove Hill)

Trenches dug on the site by CFA Archaeology found evidence of the manufacture of floor and roof tiles:

An assemblage of flat-roof-tile and glazed and unglazed floor-tile was noted, with many of the fragments burnt and heavily vitrified, indicating that they are manufacturing waste.

The report concluded these tiles were the same as used in the cloister of Reading Abbey:

A medieval tile kiln dating from 12th century, the kiln was aligned east to west with the furnace opening towards the modern street frontage. The tiles recovered are identical with tiles from the cloister at Reading Abbey.

An undated ditch was also discovered.

Abbey Cloister display (including floor tiles) at Reading Museum

Plans to build student accommodation on the site from Silver Street Developments were refused by RBC and the government’s Planning Inspectorate dismissed an appeal by the developer. The demolition will still go ahead, but the works will have to follow procedures set by the archaeologists because of these discoveries.

A later tilery had been discovered in Silver Street (Jubilee Square) in 2001 which might have produced roof tiles for the Abbey. The results of these excavations were documented by Catherine Edwards in the Berkshire Archaeological Journal (2011).

Reading University archaeologist Cecil Slade documented the ‘Paving Tiles of Reading Abbey‘ in 1969 before twenty-first century archaeological evidence of their possible source became available.

Tiles from Reading Abbey are on display at Reading Museum.

  1. Reading Abbey Quarter
  2. Berkshire Archaeology
  3. CFA Archaeology Ltd
  4. Archaeological evaluation report
  5. Historic Environment Record MRM 15791 – Jubilee Square
  6. Edwards, Catherine. Excavations at Jubilee Square Reading in Berkshire Archaeological Journal Vol 80 2011 (online version not yet available).
  7. Slade, Cecil. The Paving Tiles of Reading Abbey. Berkshire Archaeological Journal Vol 64 1969.
  8. Reading Museum
  9. Planning applications 172118 & 180725 40 Silver Street