Faversham's Clay Tobacco Pipes
|Fragments of clay tobacco pipes are
regularly found in gardens and allotments in both urban
and rural locations in the Faversham area. Such a common
and fragile artefact has become an important dating aid
for archaeologists working on sites from the late 16th
to 19th centuries.
Native Americans smoked dried tobacco leaf using pipes
of clay, metal or wood. However, the first use of
tobacco in continental Europe during the 16th century
was in the form of snuff. Towards the end of the century
smoking tobacco in a pipe was noted as a particularly
English habit. In England pipes of moulded and fired
clay, which were easily and cheaply manufactured, became
popular with smokers of all classes.
|Research into the development of pipe
design, based on examples datable by other means, has
identified changes in form which suggest a chronological
The bowls of earlier pipes were of a form which has
become known as ‘heart shaped’ – the mouth/rim of the
bowl being narrower than the maximum diameter (Fig 1).
Later, pipes got larger, and the shape changed (Fig 2).
It was also noted that the bowl became more upright and
the angle between the mouth and the stem got flatter as
the form developed.
|American studies of earlier colonial
settlements further revealed that the stem bore size
generally decreased from 8/64" circa 1620 to 4/64" circa
1760. After the later date bore size become less
reliable as a dating aid. Another dating indicator is
the inside diameter of the bowl which increased from ¼ "
circa 1560 to ½ " circa 1700, again becoming less
reliable at later dates.
Pipes with simple embossed decoration occurred from the
early 17th century. However, complex and sophisticated
decoration become more common in the 18th century.
Public houses and fraternal organisations such as the
Freemasons and Buffalos commissioned pipes – often given
away free. Local and national events were commemorated,
politicians caricatured, naval and military heroes
celebrated. Such decoration aids dating.
|Pipe production, though centred on
Bristol and London, was widespread throughout the
country. The larger Kentish towns and cities –
Canterbury, Maidstone, Dover, Rochester etc – had
pipemakers. Locally, makers were recorded at Sheerness,
Milton and Sittingbourne. At least two makers worked in
Faversham – John Baker circa 1708 and the Irish family
circa 1840s. From the earliest days some pipemakers
stamped their initials on the bowl or, more commonly, on
the ‘spur’ of their product.
|During the course of the ‘Hunt The
Saxons’ excavations, July 2005, many clay pipe fragments
were uncovered. The most significant pieces will form
the basis of a study collection to which can be linked
to a specific location and examples already in the
collection at the Fleur de Lis.
Atkinson, David & Oswald, Adrian. London Clay Tobacco
Pipes. Museum of London 1969.
Ayto, Eric G. Clay Tobacco pipes. Shire Publications Ltd
Oswald, Adrian. Clay Pipes for the Archaeologist.
British Archaeological Reports 14 1975.
Oswald, Ardian. English Clay Tobacco Pipes. Museum of
Walker, Iain C. Statistical Methods for Dating Clay Pipe
Fragments. Post Medieval-Archaeology Vol 1967.