By Evelyn Williams and Adam Harrington.
The archaeological dig at the former 40 Silver Street in Katesgrove, Reading, is yielding a fascinating insight into the industrial history of the town. In the month of excavations so far, CFA Archaeology and Thames Valley Archaeological Services (TVAS) have uncovered the remains of two mediaeval tile kilns, a suspected sixteenth century domestic oven and two nineteenth century wells.
TVAS director Steve Ford said that the newly-found tile kilns added to evidence of a ’tiling quarter’ on the edge of the mediaeval town. A Reading map of 1552 refers to a ‘Tylecroft’ on the site of the current excavation and a ‘Tyle Crosse’ nearby on Southampton Street, and another tile kiln was found under the Jubilee Square development near London Road in 2001.
Archaeological work was originally commissioned on the site in the hope of uncovering the defences from the English Civil War (1642-1651) shown on a contemporary map. The excavation hasn’t found these defences, but in addition to a several hundred kilos of broken tiles and bricks, animal bones and oyster shells, they have also discovered an almost complete 14th – 15th century pot, a badly damaged iron knife and glazed tiles with patterns the same as those from Reading Abbey.
TVAS project officer David Sanchez said that they estimated that the tile kilns were abandoned in the fourteenth century, but they would only know for sure when they were first built once material extracted from the base of the kilns had been dated.
The site currently under excavation had been occupied by a tool hire company demolished last year, and the archaeological team plan to excavate 62-68 Silver Street next door when that building is demolished in the next few months.