London’s most complete Roman pottery kiln is going on public display for the first time, following a grant to cover the restoration costs.

The kiln was discovered in 1967 during excavation work in Highgate Wood during the 1960s and ‘70s. The kiln is one of the best-preserved Roman pottery kilns found in the UK, and is thought to be the last one built by Roman potters who worked in Highgate Wood between 50CE-160CE to supply Londinium, the capital of Roman Britain, and southeast England with distinctive Highgate Ware pottery.

City of London archaeologist, Peter Marsden inspects the kiln soon after its discovery in 1967. (c) Caroline Simpson

However, ever since it was discovered, the pieces of this unique find have been in store at Bruce Castle Museum, inaccessible to the public.

To put the kiln on display, the Friends of Highgate Roman Kiln (FoHRK) has been awarded a grant of £243,550 by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, which will enable a joint project between Friends of Highgate Kiln, the City of London and Bruce Castle Museum to return the kiln to Highgate Wood to be displayed in a visitor centre from September 2024.

FOHRK’s patron, Hugh Dennis said, “This is excellent news. Nearly 2000 years ago the Highgate Roman kiln was used by a thriving community of potters to serve the needs of London. Now, thanks to the support and efforts of a thriving modern community it is coming back to Highgate Wood!”

During the 1960s-70s excavations, the archaeologists uncovered ten kilns in Highgate Wood, all likely to have been used to produce a range of kitchen and tableware for Roman households. Of the ten kilns uncovered, one was in an exceptional state, and it was removed for conservation, and being buried just a few inches below the surface its survival was quite remarkable.

While it was being conserved, during the 1970s, a number of replica kilns were constructed in the woods to study how they worked, and more recently in 2010, the process was repeated.

Now they aim to restore the Roman kiln to its original home, in Highgate Woods.

The project is called Firing London’s Imagination: An Inclusive Approach to Highgate’s Roman Pottery Heritage.

The City of London is involved in the project as they look after Highgate Wood.


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  1. Robert brennan says:

    This is fantastic news. At last this can be displayed near its site of discovery in Highgate Wood. Bruce Castle itself – with its museum now must be given the proper restoration it requires – and its museum redesigned. For too long this important historical monument has been neglected.But there is now change in hand!

  2. Pat Storey says:

    Excellent news

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