The Isle of Wight Society

September 2021

Can anyone please tell us what this is ? ?

It was once 28 centimetres in width, four centimetres tall, and had six concentric rims on a flat base. 

It is made of terracotta.  The word originated in Italy, ‘terracotta’ literally meaning baked clay.  The clay was mixed with fine sand, or, more often, powdered down old clay products.

Terracotta was first produced in London in 1722, and for the next two centuries was often used for facing important buildings, especially where decoration was required.  The terracotta process resulted in strong products.

Here on the Island, several of the Island Brickyards produced some terracotta ware, such as drainage tiles and pipes.  Terracotta flower pots were even exported to the Channel Islands from here.  

This particular terracotta item was dug up at the site of Long Lane Brickyard, which was half way between Newport and Downend.  Long Lane Brickyard was operating in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Whether our piece of pottery was made there, or just used there, we do not know.  Do you?

One suggestion is that it was a container for feeding seed to chickens.  However it does seem rather an elaborate item for that.  Another suggestion is that it could have been a “universal stopper” for different sizes of pipes.  But we have tried fitting old drainage pipes to it, and the pipes are too thick to fit in the grooves.    

So it is a mystery item that will be on display at the new Island Brick exhibition in Whippingham next year, unless you can tell us what it really is!