Heritage100

Saintonge jug

Jug

....from the same area in southwest France as the fine Bordeaux wines...

This is one of several Saintonge jugs that have been found during excavations in Southampton’s medieval town.

They come from the same area in southwest France as the fine Bordeaux wines which were imported into England in the 13th century, by Southampton merchants. The jugs are of the highest quality and were designed for display on the table, rather than being used behind the scenes for cooking and general storage.

Although the wines which came into the port were then traded further afield, this does not seem to have happened with the jugs, as very few of them have been found in the region outside of Southampton – for example they are a rare find in the richer city of Winchester.

This leads us to speculate that the merchants only imported the jugs to keep for their own use – or possibly received them as an “extra” with the shipments of wine barrels – and proudly displayed them in their homes.

Quick Facts

  • Made of pottery
  • Date made late 13th century AD
  • Place made Saintes, Gascony, France
  • Found during excavations at Cuckoo Lane, Bugle Street, Southampton
  • Date found 1966-1969
  • Dimensions Height 380mm, Diameter 225mm
  • Accession number 1973.1021

Facts

  • This is a Saintonge Ware polychrome jug, with a parrot beak spout and a strap handle. Saintonge jugs are made in a white fabric with painted decoration outlined in brown and filled with green and yellow. Motifs include heraldic devices, shields and birds, sometimes in combination. This example has two birds and three heraldic shields.
  • This jug was one of several recovered from a waterlogged stone‐lined cess pit excavated at Cuckoo Lane, off Bugle Street, in the 1960s. This feature, known as Pit 14 or the Deep Room, was full of well‐preserved domestic waste, not least because it was waterlogged. Apart from all the French pottery, it also contained leather shoes, belts and scabbards, wooden bowls, a gold ring, a sword, a balance from a set of scales, the skull of a barbary ape, two Canterbury ampullae and two merchants seals.

Did you know?

Two merchants seals were discovered in the same pit as the jug, the seals of Richard of Southwick and Bernard de Vire. Could one of these perhaps have been the occupant of the house, and the owner of the Saintonge jug?

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