Loughborough Market Object labels 1

Replica clay cooking pot, green glazed and unglazed table jugs.

Shaped very much like a metal cauldron, this three-legged pottery cooking vessel would nestle in the hot embers of the fire for cooking stews and sauces. Pots like these were made at special kiln sites, such as at Potters Marston in Leicestershire, where dozens of potters would have worked.

Green glazed and unglazed table jugs. Used for wine and ale and the plainer ones to hold water for cooking, these jugs were common in every sort of home in the 13th century. Different kiln sites had differing decoration styles and even the clay was different depending on the local geology. The green glaze is made using copper powder in the mixture. Because pottery survives well in the ground many fragments of these jugs survive on medieval sites.


Replica leather purse and belt

Personal accessories, like belts and purses were a way of showing your wealth to other people. This well-made black leather purse is stitched together and closed with a bronze buckle. At the top it has a metal purse bar which would hang from the slim belt which would pass through the loop. Medieval leather only survives in very wet or very dry conditions. Here, very wet is much more likely!


Replica medieval clothes

Clothes were often handed down within families as was so until very recently, but readymade clothes cold also be purchased from traders as well as bespoke items ordered from tailors by the more wealthy. The cheapest clothes were of fairly rough and undyed wool, so usually creams, greys and browns. Richer people tended to wear longer garments with long sleeves to show how much fabric they could afford – and to keep warm of course! Very few medieval clothes, other than those worn by clergy or royalty survive, but many pictures survive.

Wooden pattens to wear under shoes.

These wooden pattens were often worn for three important reasons:

  1. The medieval streets were far from clean so these early platform shoes would keep women’s dresses and wealthy men’s robes out of the muck.
  2. The floors were cold so the wood gave some insulation to the feet and
  3. Medieval shoes were made of leather and the leather soles and stitching around them could wear out over time, so the pattens could make them last longer.

These pattens are clearly not new. Medieval markets would always include ‘Otheres’ stalls, which sold a variety of second, third or fourth hand goods as everything was re-used, maybe having been mended first.


Leather costrels to carry ale or wine on journeys or working outdoors.

These stitched leather flasks were lined with pitch to make the waterproof. They take a lot of skilled work to make, so were not cheap, but as they are much lighter than pottery jugs and can be worn on the shoulder they were popular for travellers and those toiling in the fields. They would have most usually contained ale, which could be brewed string for feasts and celebrations or very weak for everyday consumption instead of water, which most people were suspicious of.




Bolts of Woollen and linen cloth

Woollen and linen cloth was sold by the bolt by major dealers and by the elbow for individual needs – a strange measurement to us today. Leicestershire was at the heart of the English wool industry with both Monasteries and some private farming families keeping large flocks of sheep for their wool. The shorn wool would be cleaned and carded and sometimes hand spun into yarn before being sold to merchants in the low Countries (modern day Holland and Belgium) where they would be woven into cloth and dyed in a wide range of colours and then imported back into England for sale at markets and in specialist warehouses. There were strict rules, called sumptuary laws, designed to stop people with money but low breeding from wearing clothes and colours suitable for the gentry. This European trade relationship was very important all through the medieval period.




In the medieval period and until very recently vegetables were very seasonal and some could not be obtained for much of the year. Many varieties of the vegetables we eat today have been changed from their original form to make them bigger and nicer to eat. Here are some of the common vegetable that would have been seen on Loughborough market in season.

Leeks and onions

Most villagers would grow these themselves, but townsfolk would rely on the market



Mostly picked from the wild, but also grown commercially



Until the 18th century most carrots in England were either purple, yellow or white – like the rainbow carrots sometimes on sale these days.




Animal furs

Furs were important for lining winter clothes. In the 13th century wild animals such as wolves, beavers and bears still roamed the forests and waterways of western Europe (although some not for much longer in England), while Rabbit skin would provide fur for the wealthy and ermine for the nobility.


Wooden vessels for use in the home

Turned wooden bowls, plates, cups and grinding mortars, often called ‘treen ware’, were the staple kitchen and dining ware of the poorer classes, who could not afford metal or glass. Although a natural and relatively cheap ware, these items can be very attractive. Like leather, medieval wooden objects only survive in very wet conditions in England.

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