Potsherd stained with madder dye
Late Saxon or early medieval, 9th to 12th century
Found during excavations by Oxford Archaeology at the Library site (Discovery Centre), Jewry Street, Winchester in 2005
The pot from which this sherd comes has been used as a small dyebath, for heating madder. Such sherds of the late Saxon and early medieval periods are found in many parts of the city and perhaps represent home dyeing or cottage industry.
Winchester's participation in the wool and cloth trade in high medieval times brought the professional dyer to the fore. A serious incident, which came to court in 1413 illustrates the value of the goods and skills employed- an apprentice was assaulted and ran away during a theft of woad, madder and alum worth £5, carried out by one dyer at the premises of another.