Research And Reconstruction

Roman Bread Oven

Here are some photographs of the Roman bread oven made for Comitatus by Heron Corn Mill, near Lancaster in Cumbria. Comitatus ran a small event there in 2005. For Tam and me it was our first time with the group - as well as being the first time we'd used a bread oven.

Fortunately I'd just attended a day on ancient bread and bread-making run by the University of Leeds Ancient Food Forum and there had been an American lady who gave a talk on that very thing. She emphasised that experience was needed to get to know your oven and how to judge whether the oven was hot enough to put the bread in and, she was right! Our first day's effort was not a success, as I was terrified of cracking the oven by over-heating. We were making bread with a mixture of spelt and rye flour, having been advised by the experts that this was the most likely mix used by the Romans.

The first soggy lump didn't inspire confidence, but by the next day we had got the heat right and, probably as a result of my prayers to Fornix (the goddess of the oven whose statue you can see on the rim), the resultant loaf was pretty good.