Pot Holes and the Potter


The potholes of the city roads are always a hot topic of conversation and, after the recent bout of bad weather, there seems to be ever more of them appearing. But have you ever wondered about the term ‘pothole’ and how it came to be used for these annoying obstacles.
It’s fair to say that there are a few popular theories (concerning geological pot shaped features in glaciers and gravel beds) but the one that most resonates with us is the idea that it is all connected to ancient potters on the hunt for readily available, free clay with which to make their ceramics.
The theory begins with the Romans tapestry of roads constructed across the country during their occupation. Some people claim that this was the point that potters would wait for the road builders to leave and then dig down deep into the new road to the layer of clay. They’d take whatever they needed and then either badly patch the hole with stones or mud or simply just leave it as an inconvenient hole. It didn’t take long for the Romans to realise who the culprits were and the term ‘pothole’ was coined.
Others claim that the theft of clay actually originated after the Romans had left and their roads were built upon with new layers of clay. The only agreement though is that those responsible were potters who were all too ready to raid this easy to acquire commodity and didn’t care too much about the consequences of their actions.
But the online Etymology Dictionary decides that the term wasn’t used to describe holes in the road until 1862!
All in all then, it’s a mystery but an interesting one at that.
The good news though – if you want to get your hands on clay and unleash your creative potential without having to leave a trail of destruction in your wake we offer a variety of ceramic courses where you can try your hand at ceramics with a helpful tutor by your side. There a currently still places on all of our upcoming pottery courses, click here to find out more.