Evan, Irys and I went off to build a den in the woods. We snuck along the towpath and found a way in.
We came across a stream which we had to follow for a while until it was shallow and narrow enough to cross. Then Ev and Irys jumped and I pole vaulted it.
Deep in the forest Evan began to build a shelter. He collected leaves and logs and lots of other natural materials. Meanwhile, Irys was trying to build a bridge out of sticks and mud. I decided to try and forage some food. Evan spotted a puff ball, which unfortunately was not the edible type, but we added it to our emergency store.
I got some nettle leaves that I snacked on as I dug. What was I digging for? Worms! I pretended they were wiggidy grubs, one has got to use their imagination sometimes.
Whilst rooting around in the rich soil, my stick struck something hard. I pulled it out and cleaned it with my hand. It was not a stone and it was an unusual shape, a small cup with a long thin stem. Both the stem and the cup were hollow, but the stem was snapped.
I studied it closely, it looked a bit like a smoking pipe. It was made of pottery and had a black smear on one side of the cup. I thought it was a burn mark. I put it to one side, not overly excited, then resumed my search for grubs.
When I returned home I showed it to dad, he said that I’d found the bowl and part of the stem of a Victorian clay pipe. I was amazed. I did some research and found out all of this info about clay pipes.
Clay pipes originated from the Native American tribes. When the first English pioneers went over to colonise America, they soon got into smoking these long, delicate pipes.
They took the pipes back to Europe and the craze soon spread. At first the bowls of the pipes were small and short, because tobacco was so rare and expensive. As smoking became more popular, the size of the bowls grew and the demand for tobacco got stronger.
The size of the bowl helps archaeologists find out how old the pipe is. The smaller the older.
In the 1640s the pipes had flat heels ( the little stubs at the base of the bowl). They had these up until the 1690s, then the flat heels were replaced by longer, pointier ones. Mine is an older one because the heel is completely flat.
Fact: It is very rare to find the bowl of a clay pipe so I was very lucky, but it is even rarer to find a complete pipe.
Did you know that many potters became clay pipe makers after Sir Walter Raleigh and other mariners returned from America, bringing smoking with them?
To learn more about the history of clay pipes visit this website that I found really helpful and informative:
I am not quite sure how old my pipe is or who would have smoked it, but I would be really interested to find out. Does anyone happen to have any useful knowledge regarding clay pipes or Victorian archeology? If so, please leave a comment.