The project

Highgate Wood’s Roman pottery site is hugely significant. It is a rare Roman pottery factory from Greater London. It’s also an important part of Highgate Wood’s history and that of the Borough of Haringey, particularly as little other evidence for Haringey during the Roman Period has so far been found.

Working in partnership with other organisations and partners, including the City of London, Highgate Wood and Classics for All, our Rekindling our Roman Heritage project was unveiled in 2019 with the aim of celebrating and sharing this unique heritage with local residents and visitors to the area.

What is the project about?

Following the excavations of the Roman pottery kilns and other finds in the 1960s and 1970s, Kiln 2, a kiln found in remarkably good condition, was removed to be conserved and exhibited. It was on display at Bruce Castle Museum in the 1980s and 1990s. But since the late 1990s, it has been in storage, disassembled, with only two small sections on public display. After 20 years in storage the kiln pieces are at risk of further deterioration and damage.

Photo of workers and kiln
Fitting the pieces of the Roman kiln back together for display at Bruce Castle Museum, 1980s. Image: Bruce Castle Museum

Local people who remember the kiln excavations (and those that worked on them) have formed The Friends of Highgate Roman Kiln (FoHRK), a registered charity, and are working with partners on this exciting project to conserve and reassemble Kiln 2 and bring it back to the wood where it was made and used. It will be redisplayed in an indoor space in the Wood, along with an engaging exhibition to tell its fascinating story and that of the pottery manufacturing site. The exhibition will include original pottery finds from the site.

We want people to see just how amazing this ancient history on their doorstep is by:

  • having the kiln restored and rebuilt and returning it to its original home in Highgate Wood, creating an accessible indoor space and presenting the kiln and the stories about it in engaging ways, ready to be re-discovered and enjoyed
  • encouraging wellbeing activities around the kiln site, in partnership with the team responsible for the Wood. Highgate Wood’s beautiful landscape lends itself to wellbeing, and we want to embrace this with activities that combining nature, clay and ceramics into healing and stress-relieving experiences.
  • working with local community groups and organisations to encourage a range of volunteering opportunities that are fully accessible and welcoming.
  • providing a diverse range of ‘Rekindling’ activities in the wood, and at other local venues including hands on pottery activities and talks and tours.
  • working with local schools and colleges to create engaging and exciting learning resources on a number of different curriculum areas. See our Learning Page.
  • working with local youth organisations to create a range of placements to help young people gain practical and transferable skills for future employment.
Photo of man and pot
Tom at work during the Haringey Potter Project in 2010. We are keen to provide more hands-on archaeology activities as part of this project. Image: Bruce Castle Museum

What type of activities are planned?

We will reach out to provide a wide range of activities in Highgate Wood, at other venues around the Haringey Borough and beyond. These will include:

  • Hands-on pottery/art workshops
  • Walking tours and talks
  • Family Roman days and other living history events
  • Experimental archaeology
  • Programmes for schools and young people

We are determined that our activities will be accessible to, and engaging for, the widest possible range of people. The Friends of Highgate Roman Kiln have already started consultations with local community organisations, including disability groups, groups less likely to engage with heritage and those for whom travel to the wood and other venues can present concerns. We are always keen to talk to more groups so please get in touch if you would like to find out more.

How much will it cost and who will pay for this?

Our charity; the Friends of Highgate Roman Kiln (FOHRK) will apply for external grant funding to help fund this project. We are also asking people to donate toward this worthy project.

We estimate that the cost of this project is likely to be around £250,000, including removal and rebuilding the kiln, creating new displays around the kiln, a project officer role to co-ordinate the project, placement and volunteering training and opportunities, equipment and people for the different types of activities and events in and around the wood.

How can I keep up to date/get involved with this project?

Our news page will provide updates on the project’s progress.