Architectural pottery: from earth to sky

The clay was worked by potters but also by tile and brick makers. Almost every village in the basin of l’Isle was home to a brickyard or tile factory until the 19th century to meet the high demand for tiles, tiles and bricks for the construction of buildings. Despite the concentration of ceramic factories in France, a few manufacturers of ceramic products still exist in the valley.

The potters also supplied special pieces for architecture: pipes and finials. A ridge finial is an architectural ornament placed on a roof to protect a piece of roof structure which would otherwise be exposed to the weather. It also provides a protective value, both pagan and Christian, for the home. The finial could also be the symbol of a certain social status and thus magnify the craftsman or the owner of the house by becoming a sign of the residence.

Curiosities of the Isle valley :

The roofs of the old houses in the Vallée de l’Isle are sometimes covered with strange green, yellow or brown figures. They observe us, make faces or monkey us but always invite us to look up to the sky.

Illustrations :

– Photograph of an anthropomorphic finial from the 19th century in Saint Médard de Mussidan. (©Musée André Voulgre).

– Photograph of ridge finials on the Château du Roc de Saint Aquilin (Photo Alain Devise ©Musée André Voulgre) 2008.0.723

– Photograph of the Gouaud tile and brick factory in Montpon-Ménestérol in the 1980s (©Musée André Voulgre) (to be redone)

– Advertisement of the Société des tuileries mécaniques Alfred Des Moutis de Périgueux in 1874 in Annales de la société d’agriculture de la Dordogne (©Musée André Voulgre).

– Postcard of the Hermitage brickworks in Toulon in Périgueux in the 1910s. (Iconotheque of the SHAP24)