F: You only have to look at this old pottery kiln to get a sense of the heat it must have given off!
M: Our model is a full-size reconstruction of a pottery kiln that was excavated in 1958 in a local alley called Aulgasse. That was where all the Siegburg potters once had their workshops. Aulner means potter, so the street name is a reference to this historical use.
F: The original kiln probably dates to the 14th century. At five metres long and barely four metres wide, or sixteen feet by thirteen, it was only of middling size. 16th century kilns in particular could be up to ten metres or 32 feet long and hold almost 10,000 pots.
M: If you look at the left-hand side of the kiln, you can see how a potter would have gone about packing the kiln. Pots would have been stacked all the way up to the top, and every little gap filled with small vessels. This kiln held almost 8000 pots. The clay was fired at between 900 and 1200 degrees Celsius. At those temperatures, cups and bowls became watertight.
F: The kilns didn’t have doors. Instead, they were bricked up once they’d been packed with pots for firing. Because of the high temperatures, the fire risk was extremely high. Explosions in the kiln meant that the work of months was lost. As a trade, pottery was essentially a fire hazard – which is why the workshops were outside the town.
M: Take a look at the small display case to see what can go wrong during the firing process. Early on, during the first phase, pots can collapse and jugs can adhere to one another or crack.
F: In the next room, by contrast, you’ll see some of the jugs, amphorae and bowls on which the excellent reputation of Siegburg ceramics is based.
Foto: © Dagmar Trüpschuch