Grant awarded for Highgate Roman kiln restoration
The most complete Roman pottery kiln found in Greater London will be put on public display for the first time, thanks to a £243,550 grant by The National Lottery Heritage Fund to charity Friends of Highgate Roman Kiln.
In the 1960s and ‘70s, archaeologists excavated the kiln from Highgate Wood in Haringey, which is managed by the City of London Corporation as a registered charity.
The pieces of this unique find have been in store beneath Bruce Castle Museum, inaccessible to the public.
Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, a joint project between Friends of Highgate Kiln, the City Corporation and Bruce Castle Museum will return the kiln to Highgate Wood to be displayed in a visitor centre from September 2024.
The project is called Firing London’s Imagination: An Inclusive Approach to Highgate’s Roman Pottery Heritage.
Before the kiln is on display, Londoners of all ages will be able to take part in community and educational activities, including a visiting schools programme, Roman kiln reconstruction and firing, and the creation of a community mosaic in the Wood.
The kiln is one of the best-preserved Roman pottery kilns found in the UK, and 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.
The Friends of Highgate Roman Kiln was formed in 2018 to work with Bruce Castle Museum and the City Corporation to conserve the kiln, restore it to public view, and allow everyone to learn about an important aspect of London’s Roman heritage.
Commenting on the award, FOHRK Chair Catherine West MP said: “This is fantastic news and a huge step forward in bringing this precious Roman kiln back to Highgate Wood where it belongs. I want it to be on display in the Wood, inspiring community learning, crafts and heritage. Thanks to The National Lottery Heritage Fund this dream can become a reality”
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!”
Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Hampstead Heath, Highgate Wood and Queen’s Park Committee, William Upton KC, said: “This will be a great opportunity for local communities and visitors to Highgate Wood to see this unique slice of our heritage on display for the first time.”
The City Corporation manages over 11,000 acres of open space in London and southeast England, including Epping Forest and Hampstead Heath, and over 200 smaller sites in the Square Mile, investing over £38m a year.
The City Corporation’s green spaces, most of which are charitable trusts, are run at little or no cost to the communities that they serve. They include important wildlife habitats, Special Areas of Conservation, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, and National Nature Reserves. They are protected from being built on by special legislation.
Councillor Zena Brabazon, Cabinet Member for Children, Schools and Families at the London Borough of Haringey, said: “I’m delighted to hear the news that the Highgate Roman Kiln will be going back to its original home at Highgate Wood where it was discovered over 50 years ago. As one of the jewels in the crown of our archaeological heritage here in Haringey, it’s wonderful that residents will soon be able to visit it in the location where it was once used during Roman times.
“This is a great example of the things we can achieve when the council works in close collaboration with residents. I’d like to thank the Friends of Highgate Roman Kiln and our staff at Bruce Castle Museum for all their hard work to make this happen, alongside colleagues from the City of London.”
For more information go to https://www.highgateromankiln.org.uk/.
Image: Experimental replica built in 1971.
25 February 2023