Saintonge Green Glazed Wine Jug

Wares from south-west France represent the largest group of continental pottery found in the Waterford city excavations and reflect the wine-production of Bordeaux and the predominance of the Ireland-southwest France route in trade which was boosted by the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine to Henry II in 1152 and the subsequent loss of Normandy by their son in 1204. The majority of vessels found in Waterford are wine jugs, many almost complete - tall, green-glazed, with spouts like parrots' beaks and applied strips - made in the Saintonge area of France, near Bordeaux, an area owned by the English king throughout the 13th century.

The import of wine (and not only altar wine) into Waterford, mainly from France, began before the coming of the Anglo-Normans, and was extremely important in the Waterford economy throughout the following two centuries. Gerald of Wales, the Norman chronicler in the 1180s wrote imported wines are so abundant that you would scarcely notice that the vine was neither cultivated nor gave its fruit in Ireland. Surviving records of the prise (tax) of wine show that Waterford imported more wine than any other port in Ireland in the 13th century. In 1300 the city's importance as an entrepot in the wine trade was highlighted when the largest share of 3,000 hogsheads of wine was re-exported through its port from Anjou to the port of Skinburness to supply the army of Edward I in Scotland. A leading 13th century wine expert was the Dominican friar Geoffrey of Waterford who died in Paris c.1300. The mayor of Waterford in 1304 was a wine merchant from Gascony.

Date/Period: c.1250 A.D./Anglo-Norman

Collection: Waterford City Council

Dimensions: 305 height mm

Material: pottery

Inventory no.: 1999.0038

Location: Waterford Museum of Treasures exhibition

Provenance: Found in excavations of Waterford city centre 1986-1992

Further Reading:

  • Late Viking Age & Medieval Waterford Excavations 1986-1992. ISBN 1 872002 98 6
  • James Lydon, The Lordship of Ireland in the Middle Ages, Dublin 1972
  • Eamonn McEneaney, 'The government of the municipality of Waterford in the thirteenth century', Decies (Journal of the Waterford Archaeological & Historical Society)
  • Eamonn McEneaney (ed), A History of Waterford and its Mayors from the 12th to the 20th Century, Waterford 1995.

previousPrevious - Domestic
Next - Sgraffito Wine Jugnext