New Insights into Moravian Pottery Production in Old Salem: The View from Lot 38, 1784-1831


Watch the Recorded Lecture

In our third Lunchtime Lecture, Mr. Hughes investigates Moravian culture through local pottery production at the eighteenth-century town of Salem in the piedmont of colonial North Carolina. Salem’s congregation-owned pottery (1771-1829) represents one of the most thoroughly documented pottery production sites in North Carolina and has been the subject of archaeological investigation since the 1950s. Established in 1771 and originally occupying town Lots 48 and 49 on the west side of Main Street near Salem’s northern boundary, the pottery expanded across the street in 1784, to eventually include Lots 38 and 39. Over time, three kilns were built within the expansion with the aim of adding faience, stoneware, and English-inspired molded wares to the Moravian’s stock-in-trade of coarse earthenware. The expansion and subsequent construction of new kilns on the east side of Main Street brought with it a reorganization of the landscape, changes to the production process, and new opportunities for those who worked in the pottery. Since 2016, archaeological research has focused on Lot 38, looking for evidence of these kilns and new insights into the pottery produced within them.

Geoffrey Hughes is a PhD Candidate at UNC-Chapel Hill Department of Anthropology