Now and then I excavate the ceramic arm, leg or, less often, head of a nineteenth century doll. I’ve come across these miniature body parts on all sorts of sites, and latterly in the excavation of a lock-keeper’s cottage on the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal, near Cwmbran, Monmouthshire. I included one in my contribution to Lost and Found, a book put together by a group of research students at Manchester School of Art in 2014. The ceramic limbs and head were once sewn on to a textile body, which almost always does not survive burial. So it was with glee that I spotted a complete doll in an antiques fair in Doncaster and snatched it up. I especially like her slightly bemused expression, her ruddy cheeks, her red-painted pout and her wayward ginger-blond hair. We can only imagine how she would have been dressed. Here she is:


Nineteenth century rag doll with ceramic head and limbs.