Smashing Pottery

Smashing Pottery

Pottery is one of the most often found archaeological item from the Neolithic. More or less complete pieces are found. However, there are many finds of sherds from pottery that seem to be deliberately destroyed. Many seem associated with ritual activities around entrances of Megalithic monuments.


Sherd depositions are reported from a number sites on the British isles and Ireland [1]. There were found in the forecourt areas of megalithic and non-megalitic monuments and in passage of antechamber of megalithic monuments.

Big quantities of smashed pot were found outside of monuments in Southern Sweden and Emmeln 2, Germany, Havelte D53, Netherlands ([2], p.255, 256).

From Brittany fragments of neolithic pottery vessels in front of the Gavrinis facade were noticed, crushed in situ [3]. Crushed pottery is also known from forecourts/facades of Kerleven, Min-Goh-Ru, Barnenez and Ty-Floch. [4] (p96) mentions that the radiation might show that the vessels were crushed against and falling from the facade.


Pottery played an essential role in daily life for storage of food and cocking. The ritual of smashing pottery can induce transitional rites.

Smashing pottery is still a practiced in some areas of Europe during informal (outside Church) Wedding ceremonials. Smashed pottery is supposed to give good luck.

The act of smashing pottery in more recent times was used for the expulsion of bad spirits of the winter. In the popular believes [5] pottery (usually old and broken ones) is smashed with big noise during Easter in North Germany, after consumption of Easter eggs, followed by traditional Easter fire.


[1] S. Piggott and T. Powell, “The excavation of three neolithic chambered tombs in galloway, 1949,” , vol. 83, p. 103–61, 1948.
author = {S. Piggott and TGE Powell},
booktitle = {Proc Soc Antiq Scot},
pages = {103–61},
title = {The excavation of three Neolithic chambered tombs in Galloway, 1949},
volume = {83},
year = {1948}
[2] A. W. R. Whittle, Europe in the Neolithic: the creation of new worlds, Cambridge university press, 1996.
author = {Whittle, A. W. R.},
publisher = {Cambridge University Press},
title = {Europe in the {N}eolithic: the creation of new worlds},
year = {1996},
isbn = {0521449200},
owner = {ograu},
timestamp = {2010.03.22},
[3] C. LeRoux, “New excavations at gavrinis,” Antiquity, vol. 59, iss. 227, p. 183–187, 1985.
author = {Charles-Tanguy LeRoux},
file = {../megalithic-resources/books_articles/excavation-reports/Ant0590183.pdf},
journal = {Antiquity},
number = {227},
owner = {ograu},
pages = {183–187},
timestamp = {2010.05.09},
title = {New excavations at Gavrinis},
url = {},
volume = {59},
year = {1985}
[4] M. Patton, Statements in stone: monuments and society in neolithic brittany, Routledge, london, uk, 1993.
author = {Mark Patton},
isbn = {0-415-06729-4},
owner = {ograu},
pages = {209},
publisher = {Routledge, London, UK},
timestamp = {2010.05.08},
title = {Statements in stone: monuments and society in Neolithic Brittany},
year = {1993}
[5] H. Bächtold-Stäubli and E. Hoffmann-Krayer, Handwörterbuch des deutschen Aberglaubens, “de” gruyter, 1935.
author = {Hanns Bächtold-Stäubli and Eduard Hoffmann-Krayer},
publisher = {“de” Gruyter},
title = {Handwörterbuch des deutschen {A}berglaubens},
year = {1935}