When we look at decorative medieval floor tiles today, we cannot consider them with the medieval mind. To us, they are quaint, charming, curious, but to a largely illiterate society, they would have been powerfully symbolic, like much of the imagery found above their heads, when entering one of the large ecclesiastical buildings. The smooth richly glazed shining surfaces would have been a big step up from the packed earthen floors in most dwellings. With the passage of time, the part of a building fabric most at risk is the ornate floor, from constant erosion, dampness, flooding, and periodic renovations. Often of enormous archaeological interest, floor tiles from the middle ages have been discovered in at least 88 locations throughout Ireland with at least 505 different types being discovered.
Speaking in very general terms, there are four main groupings of medieval floor tiles; plain shaped tiles, line-impressed tiles, relief tiles, and by far the most popular, two color or encaustic tiles. We have manufactured floor tiles from all four groupings, for the OPW and other public bodies, and for a number of private individuals. The making of a bespoke, properly detailed medieval tiled floor, like the examples below, is an involved process and can take several months to complete. Click on any image to learn more.
We wish here to gratefully acknowledge, countless references we made to one book in particular, Irish Medieval Tiles, by Elizabeth Eames and Thomas Fanning, published by The Royal Irish Academy 1988. It is a compilation of many years of study and is and invaluable resource.