SHERD CONDITIONS

At the Fairclough site, study of the distribution of the burnt pottery showed how amphorae and flagons had been used during industrial processes being carried out in that area of the settlement.  At Buckley’s Field amphora sherds were rare and had not been burnt or modified in the way amphorae had been used at the Fairclough site.  Flagons also lacked the burnt and lime-scaled conditions found at the Fairclough site suggesting these too were not being utilised in the same way.  Lime-scale was noted on only four vessels and all were BB1 cooking jars, three of which also had burnt on remains where food such as stews, had boiled over and burnt on to the outside of the pot.  These burnt-on remains were common on the rim and shoulders of such jars (18) and a further 25 examples were notes of which only one was a grey ware rather than black burnished ware vessel.  These were all jars except one BB1 dish.

Over half the burnt sherds were also BB1 vessels.  A further 16% of all burnt sherds were flagons and 11% were mortaria, often scorched or burnt on the flange or rim (133, 141 and 142).  Scorching and burning of mortaria is not unusual and indicates that their usage could involve heating. At the Fairclough site the proportion of sherds burnt in each fabric group (Figure 11) were compared with a group from Doncaster vicus where data was available.  It was noted that overall more sherds were burnt at Middlewich Fairclough site, but a significantly greater number of the sherds from flagons and amphora were burnt suggesting these were being used in a different way at Middlewich to Doncaster.  A similar proportion of samian ware had been burnt on the two sites suggesting that this tableware was not being used in the industrial activities carried out on site, but was ordinary domestic debris.  When the material from Buckley’s Field is examined in this way it can be seen that, while there were more burnt sherds overall at Buckley’s Field than Doncaster, the proportions of burnt flagons and amphorae sherds were as low as at Doncaster. The proportion of burnt samian ware was slightly lower than the other two sites, but the proportion of burnt mortaria was higher, perhaps indicating activity involving food preparation which would be in line with the high numbers of jars and the burnt on food stuff on the jars noted above. The evidence of the burnt sherds thus contrast with the Fairclough site figures and indicates in this area pottery was being used in a different way, particularly the flagons and amphora.  In particular the general impression is that these vessels were not being re-used for industrial purpose as at the Fairclough site.  Rather the conditions of the mortaria and cooking jars suggest a domestic function.

Figure 11 proportion of burnt sherds in each fabric group at Buckley’s Field, the Fairclough site and Doncaster High St vicus.

Some 31 sherd groups included overfired or distorted sherds.  Since pottery manufacture is known not far from the site, and some industrial usages may have resulted in vessels being burnt at sufficiently high temperatures to distort finished pots, this is not surprising.  Most of the sherds in this group were in fabric GRB2 with some FLB1 and a small number of white ware flagons. Grey ware jars and grey, slipped flagons were present in the Middlewich kilns.  It is likely that the flagons were misfired and an oxidised white slip flagon was intended, since grey ware flagons are rare in Roman Britain.

One BB1 jar had a perforation which may have been part of a repair.  A samian bowl and dish also had repair holes with parts of the lead rivets intact. 

Graffiti were rare. Two illiterate graffiti or symbols were present on the coarse ware.  An OBB1 bodysherd had an incised Y with knobs on the top ends of the Y, and an OAA2 sherd had some scratches inside which may have been some sort of symbol. One samian CG cup had traces of an erased graffiti.

Re-used sherds were uncommon.  Half of a roundel made from a GRB1 sherd was identified and five samian sherds had been re-worked into counters, a rubber or in some other way (see Ward this volume).

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