F: The pottery, with a potter's wheel and sundry stoneware, represents an important period in Siegburg's history – a time when the pottery produced here set the standard. There’s unlikely to be a single historical museum or museum of arts and crafts in the world that doesn’t own some Siegburg ceramics.
M: It all began with what was probably a fortunate coincidence. In the 12th century, the local ruler, Count Adolf the Second of Berg, set about prospecting for ore deposits, to use in the minting of coins. The excavations led to the discovery of exceptional fine clay from the Tertiary period, many millions of years ago.
F: The clay proved excellent as raw material, from which potters were able to make hard, pale stoneware. White-firing clay produced a completely new kind of pottery that was previously unknown in Europe – and became instantly popular.
M: Simple jugs were mass-produced in the Rhine region, while high-quality pots were exported all over the world as prestige objects. Cups and pitchers from Siegburg were simply unmistakable, and we’ll be showing you some wonderful pieces in due course!
F: In the 17th century, the Thirty Years' War heralded the end of the pottery tradition. It destroyed the structures set up by the Hanseatic League, and the potters of Siegburg lost many of their trade links. Locally, the bad economic situation and the witch trials also had an effect on the potters’ lives; some even emigrated as a result. The number of workshops declined. By around 1800, only a few were still practising the craft.
M: Today, a single pottery remains. It makes copies of historical Siegburg stoneware and draws on that tradition for its own designs. The great heyday of local pottery occurred during the Renaissance.
Foto: © Dagmar Trüpschuch