The Archaeology of Trafford in 12 Objects Part 8: Glazed Drinking Cup

The eighth piece in our festive look at the archaeology of Trafford in 12 objects, is the lower half of a dark-glazed ceramic fineware drinking vessel. This cup was excavated by the South Trafford Archaeological Group aat Urmston Hall during their 1983 dig. Standing 165mmm high on a base 38mm in diameter, it is a two-handled goblet (the handles and rim are both missing), manufactured in a brown fabric and finished with an iron glaze.

This was one of many pottery fragments which came from rubbish deposits immediately beyond the southern gable end of the late medieval timber-framed hall. This rubbish deposit included other fineware pottery types, as well as coarseware storage jars and midland yellow pottery sherds. These all belonged to the early to mid-17th century, a time when the hall was occupied by the Hyde family, and the southern end of the hall range contained a kitchen, buttery, and pantry. It thus probably represents kitchen breakages.

Originally, this small drinking cup would have stood c. 300mm high and would have had a pinched waste and a flared rim. Such a design is very similar to the flared mugs or cups manufactured at the kilns in Rainford, on Merseyside, during the late 16th and 17th centuries. Known as Rainford Pottery Type 10, such cups have been found around the Mersey estuary, from Birkenhead Priory and Chester to Norton Priory and Bewsey Old Hall. Outlying examples are known from Bury Castle in Greater Manchester and Bradwell Farm in Staffordshire.

The Urmston drinking vessel is one of several new forms of pottery that were being mass-manufactured in the southern part of North West England during the 16th and 17th centuries. The example from Urmston Hall adds another site within Greater Manchester to the distribution of such flared cups. It also shows how the Hyde family of Urmston Hall were purchasing fashionable, high status, tableware from regional kilns.

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