Tile making was associated with monasteries and palaces, the large buildings of their time. Potters traveled around the country using local clays and firing them on site. The tiles were hand made, by flattening the clay and cutting pieces into shape. The only mechanical aid was a wooden mould carved in relief, which indented a pattern on the clay slab. The slab would be dried and the impression filed with white pipe clay. After further drying this would be shaved flat.

A glaze of lead ore was sprinkled onto the surface and the tiles were then fired. These 'encaustic' or inlaid tiles were made from the 12th to 16th centuries. This skill disappeared with the dissolution of the monasteries, and was not revived until the mid-19th century.