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Preservation Virginia > Jamestown Rediscovery > Exhibit > Jamestown Fort: Rediscovered > The Things > Ceramics > Border Ware Drinking Jug

Border Ware Drinking Jug, ca. 1600-1610

Border Ware Drinking Jug This complete earthenware vessel was uncovered during excavations in the bulwark ditch of the fort. It is an early 17th-century Border ware drinking jug. The Border ware potteries were located in the border area (hence the name) of Hampshire and Surrey counties in England. They were the chief suppliers of earthenwares to London during the 16th and 17th centuries.

The jug consists of very thinly potted buff earthenware, which has been roughly covered over the upper half with lead glaze, colored green by the addition of copper. Despite the pouring spout located opposite to the handle, documentary evidence suggests this form to be a drinking vessel for a single serving of wine or beer. The liquid would literally be poured down the throat!

While it can not be said for sure that the Border ware drinking jug found in the bulwark ditch was a container for beer as in its traditional usage, it is known that beer was a standard commodity on all the English ships at the time. That it was not plentiful in the colony in the early years seems certain as it is one of the items the sailors on each incoming vessel could exchange with unscrupulous colonists for unauthorized access to traded Indian commodities. By the late 1620s, the colonists were brewing their own beer. John Smith records that "for drinke, some malt the Indian corne, others barley, of which they make good ale, both strong and small." Foundations of a brewery dating to the 1620s were uncovered during excavations in the 1950s in the New Towne area of Jamestown.

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