Glass, pottery and clay pipe data from America Square: results from MAAST

Publication date: 
Publication resource
Ceramics, Glass, Other
City of London
MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology)
Jacqui Pearce; MOLA Academy of Archaeological Specialist Training participants

Between October 2018 and March 2019, we at MOLA ran our first course in archaeological post-excavation procedures. That may sound rather dry – in fact it was quite the reverse! Thanks to generous funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Radcliffe Trust, we were able to offer free places for 15 students. In the course of 22 two-hour sessions over two terms, a diverse range of students learned to identify, record and interpret the finds from an unpublished excavation carried out in 1987 in America Square (site code ASQ87). Training and support was given by MOLA specialists throughout, and students worked together, handling and getting to know the different types of finds recovered during the excavation. The end results of our journey of discovery were both unexpected and very exciting! The course focused on a very large assemblage of finds recovered from the fill of a drain in the basement of the house at No. 16 America Square. This was part of a new development in the area to the north of the Tower of London, built between 1767 and 1774 with a view to attracting wealthy businessmen involved in the American trade. The drain fill (contexts [2018] and [2019]) contained a considerable quantity of ceramics, including fine dining and tea wares in Chinese and English porcelain, as well as glass wine bottles, glasses and – unusually – several glass female urinals. We also looked at clay tobacco pipes, small finds, animal bone and ceramic building material, in order to gain as complete a picture as possible of the material goods belonging to the former owner(s) of the property. Work on the finds was complemented by a programme of documentary research carried out by some of the course members, and this enabled us to identify, with a reasonable degree of certainty, the original owner of the discarded material. A date of deposition in the first decade of the 19th century was indicated by our analysis of the finds, and this coincided with the residency of one George Wolff, the Norwegian-born Danish Consul, who moved out of No. 16 in 1808. The finds throw a remarkable light on the daily lives of one high-ranking and well-connected family in this area of London during the period of the Napoleonic Wars. A report on the findings of the course was submitted for publication to London Archaeologist. The full data recorded by the students are available for consultation here, with separate files for the different categories of material. All have been recorded in accordance with current MOLA procedures, using codes for pottery fabrics, forms and decoration that are explained elsewhere on this website (, and quantification by sherd count, estimated number of vessels (ENV) and weight in grams. The clay pipes are identified according to the London typology of Atkinson and Oswald (1969), with all pipes from the site recorded, rather than just those from contexts [2018] and [2019]. The glass has been recorded using standard MOLA codes for forms, with quantification by the same means as the pottery. We at MOLA would like to thank all those who were involved in this course for making it such a great success!