The Norton Priory Tiles

During the excavations at Norton Priory the remains of a tiled floor was discovered which was to make the site of great archaeological importance. The floor was a mosaic one , made of shaped tiles which fitted together almost like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Some portions of such tiling had previously been discovered at other monastic sites in England, but never on the scale of the floor at Norton. Indeed, more was found at Norton than in all the other sites put together. The floor had been laid in about AD1300, probably at the same time as the East end  chapel had been built onto the church.  Even today some of the least worn of these tiles had plenty of their original colour and lustre left after being buried for some 400 years.

Some 200 years later another "more modern" floor was laid over the mosaic tiles. This consisted of square line-impressed tiles. These were on the same principal as tiles today. The tiles themselves were all the same size and part of the floor design would be stamped on the soft clay of each tile before the tiles were"fired" in a kiln. The finished tiles would be laid so that the overall pattern could be seen.

Some tiles were found with a pattern of chain mail, as worn by knights and soldiers at that time. These were probably from ornate wall or floor tiles around the tomb of a knight. If they were from a tomb then they were probably broken and the tombs destroyed after the Abbey was dissolved by King Henry VIII in 1536.

mosaic tiles mosaic tiles

Samples of the
Mosaic tiled floor
from Norton Priory

line-impressed tiles

Sample of the
Line impressed tiles
from Norton Priory

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Latest research on the Norton Tiles has shown that
every type of known mediaeval tile in Britain
can be found in the Norton collection, although some only as single fragments