Saintonge (French pronunciation: [sɛ̃tɔ̃ʒ]) is a small region and historical province on the Atlantic coast of France within the département Charente-Maritime, west and south of Charente in the administrative region of Poitou-Charentes. It derives its name from the ancient Gallic tribe of the Santones who lived in this area, around the current city of Saintes.
This area is also famous for its widely exported medieval pottery, sherds of which are found in large quantities on medieval excavations throughout Ireland and other European countries. These shards are from vessels made and exported as a by-product of the Bordeaux wine trade (Deroeux and Dufournier, 1991). They consist of an off-white micaceous fabric with moderate amounts of quartz and sparse inclusions of haematite. They are glazed on the external surface only, with a clear lead glaze. In Saintonge Green wares the addition of copper filings produces a mottled mid-green colouring. Many forms of Saintonge wares were produced, including Saintonge Polychrome, Saintonge Green, and in some cases unglazed wares.
The most common forms of vessel produced in this ware were wine jugs. These were characteristically tall, with slightly ovoid bodies, flat bases, parrot-beak spouts and strap handles.
This ware has been found on Irish excavations from the later 12th century but it is most commonly uncovered in 13th century contexts.
Saintonge was exported well through the 17th century. Acadians and French colonialists in Quebec and Eastern Canada imported many Saintonge ceramics, including bowls, plates, mugs and other types. Many Saintonge ceramic fragments have been found in context with 17th century colonialists and are often used as evidence of pre-British occupation of these areas. Slipped Saintonge is more consistent in colour and appearance than unslipped, having the benefit of an undercoating to regulate the process. The green colour of Saintonge comes from Copper oxide, added to the clear lead glaze finish.
- Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607–1896. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who. 1963.
Derœux, D. & Dufournier, D. 1991. Réflexions sur la diffusion de la céramique très decorée d’origine française en Europe du nord-ouest XIII-XIVe siècles, Archéologie médiévale 21, p. 163-77.