Bruce Castle Selected Projects
- Local Heroes - 350th Anniversary of the Royal Society
- Haringey Potter
- Family Activities Competition Entries
Founded in 1660, The Royal Society celebrated its 350th Anniversary in 2010. It maintains its position at the forefront of enquiry and discovery, and at the cutting edge of scientific progress.
The origins of the society lie in an 'invisible college' of natural philosophers who first met in the mid 1640s and were united by a common desire to better understand the world and the universe through observation and experimentation.
To this day, Fellowship of The Royal Society is one of the greatest honours that can be conferred on any scientist.
In celebration of its 350th year the Royal Society supported many events around the country to honour its local heroes.
At Bruce Castle Museum, we held an exhibition during 2010 to celebrate the life and achievements of our local hero Luke Howard FRS (a Fellow of the Royal Society) who lived at No 7, Bruce Grove, Tottenham. Today an English Heritage blue plaque clearly indicates his place of residence.
The Invention of Clouds: Luke Howard, the Father of Meteorology
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Environmental writer and historian Richard Hamblyn, explores the work of Luke Howard and the classification of clouds in his book which won the Los Angeles Times book prize. In the new edition there is a quote from writer and broadcaster Bonnie Greer; who says, "This Book is Pure Poetry".
Signed copies may be made available for purchase by arrangement with Bruce Castle Museum - email: email@example.com
The film The Man Who Named the Clouds produced for our exhibition is available to view on this page.
Other celebratory events in London and the South East can be found on the Royal Society's local heroes website (see the external links section below).
Stories of the World: London was one of the major projects at the heart of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. The Cultural Olympiad which began in 2008, used the power of the Olympic and Paralympic Games to inspire creativity across all forms of culture, especially amongst young people.
Bruce Castle Museum is one of a cluster of organisations that undertook an individual project, leading to a major exhibition at the Museum of London which opened in 2012. To visit the websites of our Haringey Potter project partners and the websites of other organisations in the cluster, see the links in the external links section below.
In the 1960s, London Archaeologist Harvey Sheldon (Birkbeck College, University of London) discovered a Roman pottery production site in Highgate Woods. Harvey and his team then excavated one of the kilns that is still the oldest found in London. It is presently kept at Bruce Castle Museum, although not on display. However, after specialist consideration it has been concluded that a new building connected to the present information pavilion at Highgate Wood will be necessary for this display. Therefore work towards this goal has begun and all financial contributions are welcome. Match funding has been secured for a Heritage Lottery bid, thanks to the efforts of Bruce Castle Museum staff.
Michael Welbank, Chairman of Highgate Wood at the City of London Corporation, said:
"I am delighted that this rare kiln will come back to its original site in Highgate Woods. This was a fascinating time in history which really put Highgate on the map and hopefully the return of the kiln will spark an interest in the Woods with new visitors, so they can discover for themselves what a special place it is."
From 12 to 25 July 2010 young people from Haringey, recruited through the Youth Service, re-created the Highgate Roman kiln in Highgate Woods, under the supervision of veteran kiln-builder, Nick Peacey.
During the summers of 1971 to 1973 Nick Peacey and Archaeologist Harvey Sheldon constructed a number of replica kilns in the Woods with re-enactments of the Roman firings. Our youth project has been based on these experiments.
It was quite a challenge to complete this part of our project in just two weeks. However, our dozen or so young people successfully built a kiln from the clay under their feet and made pottery from the very same material. The successful final firing of the kiln ensured not only that their pots survived but a 'reduction' process (creating a kiln atmosphere where oxygen is reduced and the flames pull oxygen molecules out of the clay to change its character) was achieved - something which was not accomplished in the experiments of nearly 40 years ago. Our pots clearly match the examples of Roman pottery found on the site, making a real connection between today and 2,000 years ago.
Local potter Mooki Hurst made use of our on-site workshops to encourage the participants to enjoy freedom in their creativity and to guide them towards achieving the best results. Local Award winning magazine Exposure recorded much of the project, ensuring our subsequent exhibitions will demonstrate the viewpoint of the participants.
We have been grateful for the support given by the Corporation of London staff who manage Highgate Woods, and the archaeology team at the Museum of London for their interest and encouragement.
On Monday 12 July and Monday 18 July 2010, "The Godfather of London Archaeology", Harvey Sheldon of Birkbeck College, University of London visited the site.
David Lammy MP for Tottenham visited the project on Friday 16 July 2010 and made a pot from local clay. The pot successfully survived its firing!
Cllr Eddie Griffiths, then Mayor of Haringey, met the young participants on site during July, as they showed-off their pottery skills and kiln.
Haringey Potter: the Highgate Roman Kiln Revisited project was exhibited at Bruce Castle Museum 15 September 2010 to 27 February 2011
Haringey Potter: the Highgate Roman Kiln Revisited can be seen at Highgate Woods information hut.
If you are interested in making a donation to see the Roman kiln returned permanently to Highgate Wood, or would like to register your interest in this project, please contact email firstname.lastname@example.org
To visit the website for Project Clay, see the external links section towards the bottom of this page.
Recruited in partnership with Haringey Youth Service, our participants in the project came from a variety of backgrounds. Some had experience of pottery but none had built a kiln before. They are all proud to have been part of the history of pottery in the area. They are all Haringey Potters.
I never thought making pots and ceramics could be this much fun and so straightforward.
Hopefully the rebuilding of the Roman Kiln instigates a new wave of people taking an interest in Pottery, at Highgate Wood. I’m thinking of checking out Pottery courses in the future myself.
It was really fun being outdoors the whole time, in such a nice wood, getting to know people better and working together on something that other people will see for the next few years and wonder what it was about, and how it was built.
No matter how damaged the kiln might be, I’m pretty sure they can't destruct the base! If the roman kiln can survive 2000 years so can this one!
The opportunity of experiencing pottery in its truest form was great, there were no machines and the clay was fresh from the soil of the earth. This unique aspect caused the activity to hold great significance.
I was uncertain about working outdoors but once I began my pottery I was so engaged that the weather became the least of my problems.
My greatest achievement from this experience is that I gained various pottery skills, and I recognise this as a valuable opportunity.
I really enjoyed the project and I'm glad that I took part. It gave me the opportunity to meet new people, try something different and expand my knowledge of the area's local history.
Overall I'd say I that my favourite aspect of the task was making my own pottery, owing to my artistic background, although I enjoyed helping to build the kiln as well.
Building the kiln was a great deal of fun - we created an entertaining atmosphere. I also enjoyed interacting with the local people around Highgate Wood and answering their questions concerning the project.
Learning to think strategically about reconstructing a Roman kiln was a very rewarding part of this project.
Creating pottery from a roman kiln that you’ve built yourself, using the clay from the ground to create the pots in the same way that the romans did 2000 years ago – it’s something I’ll never forget.
I had a wonderful experience because I learned a lot about the history of clay. Before doing this project I had made a variety of clay pieces, from leather boots to faces that looked like they were found in graveyards, but nothing compared to this.
I was always used to an electric kiln so it was interested to see where it originated from and great to be part of making a kiln. A sensational experience I will never forget!
It has been an incredible experience to be able to recreate a process which was taking place on this site nearly 2000 years ago. We’ve all learned a great deal about building and using a Roman kiln… the project has made the subject accessible and fascinating for everyone.
Throughout the two weeks of the project, I’ve had a great practical experience learning about how Roman kilns were made... overcoming different obstacles in the process of building to ensure that our kiln would work.
I have also learned some of the skills required to make a pot by hand, and to see it fired successfully.
Haringey Potter was interesting, fun and relaxing. Learning about Roman pottery was quite different for me but the amount of knowledge I gained from the 2 weeks on site was immense. Being in the Woods was stress-relieving and it brought back my youth.
Knowing I recreated something that the Romans did gave me a feeling of great achievement. Just being a part of this community event felt very rewarding and I would love to do something like this again.
This was my first exposure to the experimental side of archaeology. Although frustrating at times it was a great deal of fun to build the kiln and to fire our pots.
The project has given me a much clearer vision of where I want to take my career in Archaeology when I finish my degree.
Inspired by the exhibition A Portrait of Mrs Spinks by Eleanor Brooks
As part of our Family Activities programme of events in 2013, this competition was an opportunity for participants to create a perfect self-portrait, using a variety of different materials.
The winning entry was chosen by Eleanor Brooks.
It was a hard choice to make because all the portraits are excellent.
Artwork and Artist:
Louise - age 7
Briseis - age 2
Krystal - age 8
Sianead - age 5
Rebecca - age 13
Kyan - age 6
Abiola - age 8
Lauren - age 5
Aiden - age 4
Kzha - age 8
George - age 25
Natalya - age 6
Umut - age 7
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