VOLUNTEERS are needed to get hands on with the past (literally) at Newport's medieval pottery kiln.

Work is ongoing to preserve the kiln, considered the best example of its kind in the UK, a possible second kiln has been discovered and archaeologists have uncovered an overwhelming plethora of pottery sherds made on the site some 500 years ago; 10,000 so far and counting.

"I have never seen anything like it," said archaeologist Nick Taverner. "I have recovered more pottery in ten days than in a 40 year career in field archaeology."

The sherds are pieces of pots and jugs, some glazed, and are generally thrown to a good standard. Some have the potter's thumb print, creating what feels like a direct connection with the men who worked on the site 500 years ago.

The sheer quantity of sherds found poses quite a task; they need to be washed, marked and sorted by hand.

Anyone who would like to help can come along to the memorial hall on Monday mornings between 10am and 12.30pm.

When the sherds are analysed, it is hoped to find out how far this forgotten pottery travelled, helping to piece together medieval life in Pembrokeshire and its significance to the rest of the world.

The team is also waiting to fully excavate what could be the lost medieval kiln documented by the renowned archaeologist Sir Mortimer Wheeler in 1921. Excavations, so far, have revealed masonry at medieval ground level. This discovery will shed more light on what seems to be a substantial pottery industry in Newport some 500 years ago.

To keep abreast of developments and finds at the site, you can follow the kiln's progress on www.facebook.com/medievalpotterykilnnewport.

There will be a programme of events, festivals and activities later this summer to accompany the opening of the medieval pottery kiln.