Puddled Clay

Hi Everybody,

Today, I’m going to talk about a clay I’ve never heard of before and it’s not a pottery or modelling clay. We were on our way to Tintern Abbey for a nice walk around the woods there, but got stuck in so much traffic on the M4 that we decided to cut our losses and made a detour to Keeper’s Pond, which was not that far away. The pond is famous today as a wild swimming location, which was a little frustrating, as we had no swimming gear with us, and we would have enjoyed a dip! Anyway, mental note to self, keep spare swim gear in car.

Keeper’s Pond is near Blaenavon, and the area of The Big Pit Museum. Our plan was to walk around the industrial landscape, created by mining and ironmaking in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

People often ask why the pond is called Keeper’s Pond (well the gamekeeper lived nearby.) It is also known as Forge Pond and was built to provide water for Garnddyrys Forge, which started production in about 1817.

As we got going on our walk, we eventually came across another delightful pond, called The Devil’s Punchbowl (see photo above), which I thought was a great name, and this got me thinking how people used to make ponds years ago, when they didn’t have materials, such as plastic pond liners. After a bit of Google research, I found to my surprise that they used a clay material called puddled clay. This clay has been used for hundreds of years, mainly as a lining in the construction of reservoirs, canals and ponds! The clay is increasingly used as a natural liner, rather than using plastics. Puddled clay is made by chopping it up and then mixing it into a plastic state with either water or coarse sand. This stops moles or water voles excavating into it.

So, there you have it, the wonderfully named puddled clay, which is clay, but not as we know it and that’s the thing about pottery, there is always something new to learn.

Until next time,

Barry