Highgate Wood group launch bid to bring back Roman kiln

A mock-up roman kiln in Highgate Wood. Picture: Friends of Highgate Wood Roman Kiln

A mock-up roman kiln in Highgate Wood. Picture: Friends of Highgate Wood Roman Kiln - Credit: Archant

A coalition of London arts organisations have joined forces with a grassroots group as part of a campaign to return a historic roman kiln to its rightful home —Highgate Wood.

The Friends of the Highgate Roman Kiln group, led by Hornsey and Wood Green MP Catherine West, are working with the Museum of London, Bruce Castle Museum and the City of London Corporation.

And they are desperate to retrieve the kiln, which is “probably in the best shape of any Roman kiln find in at the very least Greater London if not the UK”, according to FoHWK’s secretary Nick Peacey.

Ms West told this paper she had been delighted to get involved.

She said: “It’s over 50 years since this Roman kiln was discovered in Highgate Wood, yet for much too long it has been hidden away which is desperately sad.

“It’s a stunning example of Roman pottery and the only Roman kiln in Greater London to have been lifted and conserved. “I’d love to see it back where it belongs.”

One of the men who first discovered the kiln, Harvey Sheldon, added: “The site is a hugely important one. The kiln was found there in a remarkable enough state and we were able to conserve it.

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“It’d be great if we could get it back to where it came from.”

The kiln has been stored in the basement of Bruce Castle museum in Tottenham in recent years.

Nick Peacey continued the story: “ This site was just so rare. The kiln was taken to the Horniman museum in south London but there wasn’t space for it there, and the same happened when it was at Bruce Castle.”

The group hopes to apply for up to £300,000 in National Lottery funding but will also be hoping to find local backers willing to support returning the kiln to where it laid for two millenia.

Nick added the plan was to create a innovative educational resource.

He said: “We are aiming to raise money to make sure that we can bring the kiln back. And we are asking for local people to buy into the idea.

“We want to find a way of keeping it here that doesn’t affect the atmosphere of the Wood.”

The group wants to extend the Highgate Wood information hut in order to comfortably house the kiln which would then host school visits focusing on Roman history.