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Decorative smoke vent in the form of a head

Decorative smoke vent in the form of a head

This cheeky chimney pot (or, more properly, a smoke-vent) once belched smoke from a merchantís house in the High Street of fourteenth century Oxford. It was found when excavating for the new buildings at Brasenose College in the nineteenth century. In the medieval period, houses were generally organised around a hall with a central hearth rather than a fireplace. The smoke from the fire would rise up through the rafters and escape through the chimney pot: in this case it would have been a dramatic sight as the smoke billowed from the potís various orifices.

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