Late medieval ridge–tile from Bowhill

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Late medieval ridge–tile from Bowhill

To provide a water-tight finish along the ridge of a slate roof, earthenware ridge tiles were used in Devon buildings from the mid 13th century onwards. Several such tiles survived at Bowhill, Exeter, until its repair by English Heritage in the 1980s, when it was decided that they were too old and frail to remain on the roofs. They have now been replaced by modern replicas.

The ridge-tile shown here is believed to belong to the original roof of Bowhill, datable to about 1500. Such tiles were known locally as ‘crests’. They commonly receive mention in building accounts; they usually cost about 1 1/2d each at this time. This particular example was made close to Totnes.

Acknowledgments: Exeter City Museums

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