Pawley Kiln (18BC88) was the site of James Pawley’s stoneware pottery kiln, which operated between 1838 and 1845 in Baltimore, Maryland. Located near the corner of Cross and Russell Streets in the Camden Yards area, this pottery produced basic utilitarian stoneware vessels that were sold at Mr. Pawley’s retail and wholesale outlets in Baltimore.
Pawley Kiln represents a rare survival of a small, individually owned, single kiln pottery which has yielded important evidence about ceramic manufacture in Baltimore. James Pawley’s "updraft" kiln represents one of the earliest non-mechanized industrial enterprises in the Camden Yards area during the 19th century. Furthermore, decorative motifs used on pottery produced at the kiln have a limited period of production, so they can now serve as temporal markers for other sites, and help to document regional trade and mercantile networks.
R. Christopher Goodwin & Associates conducted initial field investigations in the vicinity of the site between October 1989 and March 1990, prior to the construction of Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Eighty-eight trenches were mechanically excavated following natural stratigraphy and then examined for cultural deposits. One trench on Property 15 encountered the remains of James Pawley’s pottery kiln. Archaeological testing included the excavation of the kiln mouth, a firebox, and the northeast and northwest portions of the kiln’s interior. All excavation units were dug in 10 centimeter levels within natural stratigraphy, and all soil was screened through ¼-inch mesh. All artifacts were retained, except for kiln furniture which was counted and sorted in the field. Only a 10 percent sample of the kiln furniture was saved, due to the large number present.
The Phase III investigation of Pawley Kiln was also undertaken by R. Christopher Goodwin & Associates in May 1996, prior to the construction of the adjacent Baltimore Ravens’ football stadium. The kiln foundation, a second firebox, three postholes, an intrusive utility trench, and a rubble feature were excavated. The southwest and southeast quadrants of the kiln were dug in a series of three two-by-two-meter units. All fill was removed in two levels and screened through ¼-inch mesh. Kiln furniture was tallied and recorded in the field, but only a 10% sample was retained. All other artifacts were collected and analyzed in the laboratory.
The plan of the site included a kiln with an interior brick floor two feet below the ground surface, two fireboxes with cast iron doors on opposite sides of the structure, and two postholes which supported a covering over the kiln’s mouth. The foundation of the kiln revealed a circular structure measuring three meters (9.84 feet) in diameter. The "updraft" style of construction allowed heat to rise through stacked pottery in the firing chamber to one or more openings in the roof. To help distribute heat evenly, an interior channel circled the perimeter of the kiln and another crossed the center. Wood placed in the firebox was used to heat the interior of the structure to between 1200 and 1300 degrees Celsius. Salt for glazing was either poured through holes in the roof of the kiln or tossed into the firebox. All ceramic vessels were placed and removed from the kiln through the fireboxes.
A total of 14,000 artifacts were excavated from Pawley Kiln, and included three classes of artifacts: materials used in the kiln architecture, stoneware vessel wasters and kiln furniture, and domestic artifacts. The kiln’s interior contained a large number of vessel wasters, kiln furniture, brick, and charcoal, dating both from its use and destruction.
One or more unidentified potters, craftsmen, and apprentices were employed by James Pawley to produce stoneware vessels for food production and storage. All vessels were wheel-thrown, had flat bases, and were removed from the wheel using a straight or twisted wire. Stoneware vessels were predominantly salt glazed, but some exhibited a slip or wash on their interior surfaces. Pawley Kiln was producing at least nine vessel forms in various sizes, but specialized in smaller-sized jars, pitchers, jugs, bottles, crocks, and flasks. Potters applied strap handles to pitchers and mugs, and crescent-shaped cupped handles on the shoulders of crocks and jars. Stoneware lids were manufactured with flat or cupped knob handles. Two molded white clay tobacco pipe bowls and a white clay tobacco pipe stem with no bore suggest that the potters manufactured tobacco pipes for sale as well. Goodwin archaeologists noted that the potters at Pawley Kiln appear to have crafted their vessels with more sophisticated decorations than those of the larger utilitarian potteries of the same period.
Archaeologists identified 20 distinct decorative techniques, including incised, painted, and trailed motifs, on the exterior surfaces of ceramics from Pawley Kiln. Potters utilized simple floral decorations on larger vessels, such as pans, jars, crocks, and pitchers, while flasks and bottles with a base diameter of less than 3 inches were not decorated. Cobalt tulips were the most common decoration, while waves, dots, feathers, dashes, parallel lines, and concentric circles also appeared. Cobalt spots were also found on a number of vessels, but it is unclear whether they were intentional or accidental. Potters did incise gallon markings, but no maker’s marks were encountered on stoneware vessels from Pawley Kiln.
Thousands of fragments of kiln furniture were recovered. They were used to hold, separate, and protect the stoneware vessels during firing. Ten types of kiln furniture in a range of sizes were recovered, including saggars, rings, spools, coils, tacos, patties, discs, props, ‘c’s, and an unidentified form in which the necks of bottles and jugs were pierced. With base diameters larger than their height, the majority of the saggars at Pawley Kiln were used for firing flatwares and small serving vessels, and for dividing larger hollowware in the kiln. Conversely, the quantity of separators when compared to saggars suggests that the pottery was manufacturing more larger vessels, such as multiple-gallon crocks and jars, and few smaller vessels, such as small bottles, pots, and mugs.
The record collection is comprised entirely of photocopies in good condition, with no stains from the field or other usage, but the quality of some of the photocopies may be sub-par. The collection is housed in one letter-sized archival clamshell box.
The excavation records are organized sequentially by unit, feature, or trench number; those for the kiln itself are separate. Excavation records consist of daily field notes, excavation level forms, archaeological feature forms, plan drawings, profile drawings, and excavation summary records. Researchers should note that if information was found on both sides of an original form, only information on the form’s front side was photocopied. There is no field journal associated with the collection.
Other records in the collection include correspondence documents, maps, artifact inventories, field specimen logs, and photograph logs. These are available online as .PDF files. Reports are available as word-searchable .PDF files. Two bound reports are included in the collection: Archeological and Architectural Investigations at Camden Yards, Baltimore, Maryland (Kuranda 1992), and Archeological Mitigation of the J.S. Berry Brick Mill (18BC89) and Pawley Stoneware Kiln (18BC88), Baltimore, Maryland (Sanders and Williams 1996).
Photographs taken on-site or in post-processing are available through the online database, and are searchable using the above criteria. Researchers should note that images are not linked directly to specific documents, and photograph records do not exist for all features or units. Original images in the form of slides are housed at the MAC Lab.
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