Pipe Aston

A North Herefordshire Jewel


Clay pipes

The Pipe Aston Project is dedicated to the study of clay tobacco pipes and kilns in the village. Archaeological excavations and fieldwork was carried out each summer from 1995 until 2011.


The Pipe Aston pipe making industry appears to have been established quite early in the 17th Century. At the first of the two excavated sites, pipe making began sometime between 1620 and 1640. Five differently marked pipes were found in 2003, among about 300 bowls, and some of these may be the work of the earliest manufacturers to start working in or near the village. These early marks are all different from the very large number of stamped pipes that have been recovered from the more extensively excavated site in Roy’s orchard. Here the earliest evidence for manufacture dates from sometime between 1630 and 1650. At least twelve men appear to have produced pipes here, possibly working as a cooperative, whilst other pipe makers from around the district may have brought in their products for firing at the site.


Excavation has revealed the footings of a cottage and attached workshop with the remains of two kilns, as well as several thousand pipe bowls, including many hundreds with a variety of different makers’ marks on them, pipe trimmings, and a few hair curlers of two types: convex and concave ended. A variety of other artefacts has been found, including brass and iron belt buckles, part of a horse’s iron bridle, and a rider’s iron spur, suggesting that the cottager owned a horse which, among other tasks, could have been used to distribute his pipes.




Berlyn, G, ‘Clay Tobacco Pipe Making and Use in the 17th & 18th Centuries, Ludlow Historical Research Group, Ludlow Research Papers 2008. New Series No. 5.


Peacey, A. and Vince, A., ‘Chemical characterization of clay pipes and wig curlers from Roy’s orchard, Pipe Aston, Herefordshire’, Post-Medieval Archaeology, Vol. 37/2, 2003, pp. 207-216

Dr Allan Peacey


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