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Since their initial discovery on site, all of the artefacts recovered during the community dig have been separated into individual categories, cleaned, labelled and then subjected to detailed analysis.
Artefact analysis can serve many purposes. Some artefacts, such as pottery and coins, are closely datable and can therefore help to date the deposits on the site and build up a chronological sequence of events. Other artefacts give an indication of social status, for example the types of pottery that poeple could afford, the jewellery and personal adornments they wore, the food that they ate and the materials used to build their houses.
We can also learn about the occupations of people living at the site from the industrial materials left behind. Such materials include kiln waste from the salt making process (briquetage), metal casting waste and mis-fired pottery.
By combining the results of the separate analyses, it is possible to build up a picture of the people who lived and worked along King Street in the Roman period.
Each category of artefact is discussed in detail in the sections on the right. Many of these have been undertaken by specialists in their particular fields. A number of the analyses were also undertaken by volunteers in Middlewich, including the briquetage, building materials, metalwork and industrial residues.
As part of the analysis programme, public workshops were held with some of the specialists so that members of the community could gain a greater understanding of the purpose of this work and the methods used. A selection of photographs from these workshops can be viewed below (click images to enlarge).
Report on the Romano-British coarse pottery from excavations at Buckley’s Field
R.S. Leary with contributions from Kay Hartley and David Williams
A total of 3615 (54515g, rim equivalent total of 4776%) sherds of Romano-British coarse pottery were recovered during the excavations and a further 400 sherd of samian (4369g, rim equivalent total of 674%). Of these 3615 sherds of coarse pottery (54515g, rim equivalent total of 4776%) and 316 sherds of samian (3699g., rim equivalent total of 589%) came from a phased group. All the pottery is catalogued but only the phased groups are included in the quantification tables. The ceramics have been catalogued in fabric groups according to the guidelines laid down by the Study Group for Romano-British pottery (Darling 2004).
A ring-necked flagon discovered in the fill of ditch 1221, Trench 12
The pottery was examined in context groups and the fabrics, forms, decoration, condition such as burnt or perforated, level of abrasion and cross joins were recorded. The catalogue was deposited with SLR Consulting Ltd. All pottery was quantified by sherd count, weight and rim % values. The guidelines for compiling Romano-British pottery archives set out by the Study Group for Romano-British pottery were adhered to with additional details being recorded for key groups.
The mortaria was examined in consultation with Kay Hartley who helped with fabric identification and dating. All the mortaria stamps were identified by Kay Hartley. The mortaria catalogue and discussion was compiled by R. Leary. The amphorae sherds were initially sorted by R. Leary but a selection were sent to D.F. Williams for further comment and study.
Further information about how archaeologists study pottery and what can be learnt can be found at
http://www.worcestershireceramics.org/content.php/front?expand=260 and an excellent site to aid the identification of Roman pottery in Britain can be found here http://www.potsherd.uklinux.net/
NOTE: In the ‘Chronology’ section below, the pottery is discussed by trench and phase in chronological order. The text in Italics describes individual sherds of pot from the collection, with numbers in bold italics giving each piece’s catalogue number. The complete catalogue can be viewed in the ‘Illustrated Catalogue’ section – simply click on the thumbnail images to view the artefacts. Note that it may tak a short while to load all of the images.The pottery from the site was dated by reference to similar vessels found on other sites associated with historic events, such as the building and occupation of Hadrian’s Wall and the Antonine Wall, and closely datable items such as coins. Samian ware is often more precisely dated than other kinds of Roman pottery because it was used over much of the Roman Empire and occurs in well-dated groups such as the disaster at Pompeii. Using these means four ceramic phases could be identified: Flavian-Trajanic (cAD69-117), Hadrianic (cAD117-138), early Antonine (cAD138-161) and late second to mid-third century. Although these date ranges are precise, in reality potters did not always change their repertoire right away, nor did settlement immediately acquire the latest pottery styles, so they should be thought of as rough guides only. The samian ware and aspects of the coarse ware indicated that the strong evidence for activity during the early Flavian period at the Fairclough site was lacking here and that it is unlikely that there was any diminution in activity during the Trajanic period as was suggested at the Fairclough site. During the first three phases the army was very involved in the region, and we know more about the sequence of events so the reference to the ruling emperors is appropriate. During the final phase military involvement may have been less pronounced and the dating is less precise since we know less about the history of the civilian population.Much of the Flavian-Trajanic pottery came from the buried soil layers or were incorporated into later features- very little pottery came from secure Flavian-Trajanic phases. The jars in this period were typically neckless jars with short everted-rims with shoulder grooves and/or rusticated surfaces (25, 44, 45). These may have been made in the Middlewich kiln along with flagons with near vertical ring necks made in an oxidised fabric with white slip (21). There was a smaller number of necked jars with everted rims. This was a common form at the Fairclough site Phase 1 in the Flavian period, but was less common in the Trajanic-early Antonine levels at the Fairclough site and at Barton St, Manchester (Figure 1). The smaller number found here agrees with the evidence of the samian for a stronger Trajanic presence on the site compared to the Fairclough site and perhaps less Flavian activity.
|Cat No||Description||Weight (g)||RE (%)||Context||Tr||Image 1||Image 2|
|1||FLB1 flagon with upright rim, rebated|
|2||OAB1 flanged hemi-spherical bowl|
|3||OAB1 wedge shaped rim of narrow-necked jar|
|4||GRB8 bead rim bowl copying samian form 37|
|5||BB1 splayed rim|
|6||BB1 plain rim dish with burnished intersecting arcs outside body and outside base|
|7||MH2 multi-reeded rim mortarium|
|8||MH2 multi-reeded rim mortarium|
|9||MH flanged mortarium|
|10||OAA2/SV narrow-necked jar with bifid rim|
|11||OAA2 narrow-necked jar with bifid rim|
|12||OAA2 narrow-necked jar with bifid rim|
|13||OAB1 narrow-necked jar with bifid rim|
|14||GRC4 wide-mouthed everted rim|
|15||BB1 jar (cremation) with splayed rim, shoulder groove and obtuse lattice. One perforation, 4mm by 2mm through a wall sherd|
|16||FLB1 tazze. Scorched and blackened inside body and over rim|
|17||GRA1B neckless, everted-rim jar, slight distortion of rim|
|18||BB1 everted rim jar with wavy line burnish on neck and acute lattice burnish on the body|
|19||MG3 beaker/small jar with short everted rim, double shoulder groove and at least two undulations of the middle and lower body|
|20||GRA1 campanulate bowl with groove above carination|
|21||FLB1 ring-necked flagon|
|22||GRB1 campanulate bowl|
|23||OAA1 open vessel, bowl or dish, with grooved rim and groove outside upper body|
|24||Dressel 20 rim|
|25||GRB2 everted-rim jar|
|26||GRB1 rim of necked jar with everted rim|
|27||GRB1 blunt-rim lid|
|28||GRB1 base and lower body of campanulate bowl|
|29||G4 very abraded everted-rim storage jar|
|30||misfired or burnt FLB1 carinated bowl with rouletted upper and lower body, probably a samian form 19 copy|
|31||BB1 lid decorated with burnished zigzags|
|32||BB1 necked jar with acute lattice decoration|
|33||GRA1B flanged rim from bowl with low bead rim and flange level with rim|
|34||GRB1 campanulate bowl|
|35||GRB1 campanulate bowl|
|36||OBB1 campanulate bowl|
|37||GRB1 rim of rather narrow necked vessel with rim turned out almost flat|
|38||BB1 necked jar with burnished wavy line on neck and acute lattice on body|
|39||BB1 necked jar with burnished wavy line on neck|
|40||GRB1 everted rim of small jar/beaker|
|41||NV1 beaker sherd with barbotine dot trail|
|42||GMG1 bowl with flaring everted rim|
|43||CC4 grooved, cornice rim roughcast beaker|
|44||GRA1 neckless jar with triangular rim|
|45||GRA2 short everted-rim jar with shoulder groove|
|46||GRB1 knobbed lid|
|47||BB1 everted-rim jar with acute lattice burnish|
|48||BB1 neckless small jar/beaker with short everted rim, with acute lattice burnish|
|49||BB1 flat rim bowl with burnished acute lattice|
|50||CC1 everted-rim rouletted beaker|
|51||OBA1 flanged hemi-spherical bowl|
|52||GRC4 vessel with bulbous body and long necked, funnel rim|
|53||FLA2 rebated rim large flagon/amphora as Gauloise 4|
|54||FLA7 rebated rim large flagon/amphora as Gauloise 4|
|55||MG3 carinated bowl with everted rim|
|56||GRB2 necked jar with everted rim tip|
|57||BB1 rim of jar with everted rim|
|58||TN EGGS bodysherd with rouletted decoration outside the middle body, a groove and burnished all over|
|59||FLA2 honeypot type vessel with small ribbed handle|
|60||BB1 necked jar with acute lattice burnish|
|61||BB1 necked jar with acute lattice burnish|
|62||BB1 neckless bead-rim jar|
|63||BB1 handled beaker|
|64||BB1 grooved-rim dish with acute lattice burnish|
|65||CC1 everted rim roughcast ware beaker|
|66||GRB3 everted rim roughcast ware beaker|
|67||OAA2 incomplete wedge-shaped rim of wide-mouthed jar|
|68||GRB1 campanulate bowl, nearly complete|
|69||FLB1 ring necked flagon|
|70||FLA/Gallic large flagon with rebated rim as Gauloise 4 amphora form|
|71||GRB3 abraded rim of narrow-necked jar with everted rim|
|72||GRA2 ring-necked flagon|
|73||OAA1/SV1 narrow-necked jar with wedge-shaped rim|
|74||OAB1 grooved rim hemispherical bowl|
|75||MRS1 Rhaetian mortarium|
|76||MOWS8 incomplete rim sherd from flanged mortarium with grooved distal end|
|77||OAA1/SV1 narrow-necked jar with wedge shaped rim|
|78||OAA1 incomplete rim and body of bowl|
|79||OAB1 hemispherical bowl rouletted body|
|80||GRB3 necked jar with everted rim tip|
|81||BB1 necked jar with wavy neck burnish|
|82||BB1 rim tip of splayed rim jar|
|83||BB1 plain rim dish, acute lattice burnish|
|84||BB1 flat-rim bowl|
|85||BB1 bead and flange bowl|
|86||GRB1 waster neck and base sherds from flagon|
|87||TN EGGS sherds from carinated beaker|
|88||GRB2 necked jar with everted rim|
|89||GRA1 carinated bowl with bifid rim, double groove in middle of upper body with traces of oblique burnish lines on lower half of upper body|
|90||GRA1 short everted rim jar|
|91||FLA 7 ring-necked flagon|
|92||GMG1 campanulate bowl|
|93||BB1 neckless jar|
|94||MOWS1? flanged mortarium|
|95||BB1 incomplete rim of grooved flat rim bowl|
|96||BB1 necked jar with everted rim|
|97||BB1 grooved rim bowl/dish|
|98||BB1 flat-rim bowl/dish with acute lattice burnish|
|99||FLB1 ring-necked flagon|
|100||CTA2 jar with rim bent over to form bead|
|101||MH1 incomplete rim of flanged mortarium|
|102||BB1 dish with flat rim and lattice burnish|
|103||BB1 necked jar rim|
|104||BB1 neckless everted-rim jar/beaker|
|105||OAB1 everted rim of wide-mouthed jar|
|106||GRB5 narrow-necked jar with rebated rim and zone of vertical burnished lines on shoulder|
|107||CTA2OX jar with cordoned neck and everted rim|
|109||CTA2 everted rim jar with double shoulder groove|
|110||GRC6 everted rim from narrow-mouthed jar|
|111||OAB4 handled jar with everted rim and cordoned neck|
|112||BB1 jar with acute lattice burnish|
|113||BB1 neckless jar|
|114||BB1 jar rim|
|115||BB1 plain rim dish|
|116||GRA2 neckless everted-rim jar|
|117||OAB1 very large dish with flat rim|
|118||M GAL mortarium|
|119||MH2 flanged mortarium|
|120||SV2 narrow necked jar with everted rim with zone of oblique lines defined by horizontal grooves on upper body|
|121||GRA2 jar bodysherd with zone of linear rustication between horizontal grooves, and between two plain zones with no rustication|
|122||FLA2 flagon with pronounced rim|
|123||GRB1 flat-rim bowl|
|124||GRA2 reeded-rim bowl with double groove outside upper body and coming in to rounded carination|
|125||GRA2 neckless everted rim jar with shoulder groove|
|126||GRB8 hemispherical bowl as samian form 37|
|127||MVER much of flanged mortarium|
|128||MVER flange from second mortarium|
|129||BB2 everted-rim jar with acute lattice burnish|
|130||MRS Rhaetian mortarium|
|131||FLA1 everted rim jar with traces of painted arcs on upper body|
|132||MH1 rim, spout and base of early Mancetter-Hartshill flanged mortarium|
|133||MOWS2 Wilderspool flanged mortarium|
|134||MOWS1, probably Wilderspool flanged mortarium|
|135||MOWS1 Rhaetian type mortarium|
|136||MOWS9 incomplete rim and body of flanged mortarium|
|137||OAB1 fragment of open handled lamp|
|138||OAA4, but colour orange like OAA1, double bead rim beaker with lattice burnish outside body and an applied motif on this zone|
|139||MH1 stamped mortaria ‘ICOTASGI’|
|140||MH incomplete rim sherd with small part of unidentifiable stamp|
|141||MWROX stamped mortaria|
|142||MH1 flanged mortarium stamped NANII|
|143||MOSW8 variant, incomplete rim of flanged mortarium, herringbone stamp|
|144||MOSW8 Wilderspool incomplete rim of flanged mortarium|
Taphonomy – how the sherds got where they were found
The pottery sherds came from a variety of features and contexts such as pits, postholes, layers, road surfaces, ditches, buried soil and subsoil and arrived in these deposits in different ways. The sherds from the fabric of floors and metalled surfaces, if these surfaces are intact, can help date the construction of those features by providing a date after which they must have been built. Sherds from the surface of such features date to their use and disuse. The sherds from within such features, such layer 1228, tend to be abraded and scarce whereas the sherds from their surfaces can be more numerous suggesting they represent accumulation debris from their disuse, such as the group of 187 sherds from track 1206. There were a surprising number of sherds from surfaces suggesting these were not kept clean of ceramic debris in the way that floors, particularly hard floors such as mosaics, within higher status domestic dwellings such as villas tend to be.
Most of the pottery came from earthcut features or buried soil layers (Table 1). Assemblages from the primary fills of earthcut features such as pits and ditches are often contemporaneous rubbish deposits. The group from pit 403 is a good example of this. This group included a large number of fresh, large sherds from an unusually large number of bowls, all of the same type (20, 22, 28, 34-36). It was thought that this may be debris from a pottery kiln since some examples were misfired. The presence of a tazze (incense burner) raised the possibility that these were deliberately deposited by the potters as part of a ritual, perhaps invoking the gods to help them with their work. A group from pit 909 included large portions of some of the vessels (47-49), such as cooking jars, and this group represented domestic debris of some sort.
The vessel from the cremation in Trench 2 contrasts with these discarded sherds in being a deliberate deposit of burnt pottery fragments (15) collected from the pyre with the bones in the cremation pit. This may have originally been contained in an organic container or bag. Several of the ditches contained pottery in their fills. Only small numbers of abraded sherds came from the roadside ditches in trenches 1 and 12 since these were presumably kept clean of debris to aid drainage.
The majority of the pottery came from buried soil deposits, cleaning layers and unstratified levels. Similar deposits of buried soil were noted during excavations at the Fairclough site by Earthworks (Williams and Reid forthcoming). These deposits were rich in ceramic debris which was often unabraded and included near complete vessels. At the Fairclough site the archaeologist thoughts that the fluctuating watertable and the breakdown and reworking of sediments by organisms such as earthworms had resulted in the formation of these deposits which incorporated the upper parts of archaeological deposits. It would appear that the buried soil layers here are of a similar type since despite their stratigraphic positions early in the sequence, unless completely sealed by later impermeable layers such as clay or cobbling, they have mixed groups of pottery often including the latest sherds from the site. As a consequence the pottery from unsealed deposits of this type is dealt with separately from the well stratified groups.
|Feature type||Nos||Weight||Av weight|
Table 1 quantification of ceramic debris in feature types (includes samian)
The average sherd weight of 14.7g contrast with that from the Fairclough site (28.5g) suggesting the sherds were being broken up and abraded perhaps by being trampled or weathered. No significant differences in the average sherd weights were noted from trench to trench. When similar features types are compared from the two sites the pottery from Buckley’s Field was much smaller and more abraded than those from the Fairclough site. For example, at the Fairclough site the average sherd weight from pits was 28g, from road ditches nearly 30g and from gullies, 13g. These differences suggest this area was not a focus of fresh ceramic discard but was perhaps on the edge of an area used for domestic ceramic discard or an area where rubbish from middens was cleared. The cremation in trench 2 would be consistent with this since burials tend to be situated on the edge of Roman settlements.
Figure 2 comparison of average sherd weight at the Fairclough site and Buckley’s Field
The rate of accumulation of pottery sherds fluctuated throughout the phases and both sherd counts and sherd weight fluctuated to a similar degree (Figure 3). Very little pottery was being deposited in phases 4 to 6 but the quantity increased sharply in phase 7 and even more in phase 8 before declining during phase 9. Much of the material in the phase 9 midden dates from the earlier phases so the quantity of new pottery being deposited would have been even smaller. The subsequent rises in the chart represent earlier unsealed layers which have been placed later in the sequence but which contain pottery from phases 5, 7 and 8. In phase 10 very little pottery was recovered apart from the pyre goods from the cremation and small numbers of mid-third century vessels fragments.
Much research has been carried out on differences in the ceramic assemblage from different kinds of sites (Evans 1993 and 2001, Willis 2005) and previous study of the ceramics from Middlewich found that the ceramics compared well with those from military rather than civilian settlements. At Nantwich different activities zones were found (Connelly and Powers 2005) and similar zoning might be expected at Middlewich.
Unfortunately no rim sherds were recovered from the early phases so these phases cannot be assessed adequately. The jar:bowl/dish ratios from phases 7 and 8 are within the range of those recovered from military type sites in the north (Evans 1993 in the second century) but the levels are relatively low and are markedly lower than those from the Fairclough site excavations (Figure 4). The relative quantities of jars from Manchester and Middlewich Fairclough site in the Hadrianic-Antonine periods are lower than those from the rural sites at Mellor, Tarporley and the industrial sites at Warrington and Tarbock, although jars were more common at both Manchester Barton St and Middlewich Fairclough site in the Flavian-Trajanic period.
From the analyses it would appear that Buckley’s Field is of a quite different character to the Fairclough site area. Overall it compares better with the results from recent excavations at some of the higher status rural sites, perhaps reflects the sort of activity taking place on the edge of these small town settlement. The Buckley’s Field group contrasts with assemblages from industrial settlements such as Walton-le-Dale and Wigan but is similar to groups from Wilderspool and Tarbock. Very little pottery has been recovered from many of the rural Romano-British settlements on the Cheshire Plain. Sites such as Legh Oaks Farm, Great Woolden Hall and Brook House, Halewood and did not have enough pottery to include in this kind of analyses and a large group of sites are characterised by little or no Romano-British pottery (Nevell 2002, Nevell 1998 and Dunn 2000). The similarity with the higher status rural sites would tend to suggest we are dealing with a zone on the edge of the town which was, perhaps, more like a higher status rural settlement in terms of the vessel range in use. By contrast, the Fairclough site is more like the military and military related sites and the higher status industrial site assemblages.
Figure 4 Ratio of jars to bowls/dishes. Squares= military forts or vici, lozenge = bath-house, probably military, triangles=industrial settlements, circles = rural settlements. MB2.1 = Manchester Barton St vicus, Trajanic-Hadrianic, 2.2 Hadrianic-early Antonine, 2.3 late second century, MD: Manchester Deansgate vicus, late first to Hadrianic-early Antonine (Leary 2007), M2: Middlewich Fairclough site Hadrianic-early Antonine(Leary forthcoming), S= Segontium Trajanic-Hadrianic phase 5 (Webster 1993b), Wig=Wigan, Hadrianic-early Antonine bath-house (Leary unpublished b), M= Middlewich community Dig Hadrianic-early Antonine, Wil= Wilderspool industrial settlement, late first to early third century (Rogers and Garner 2007 and Lucas unpublished archive report), W-le-D= Walton–le-Dale industrial settlement, early Antonine phase (Evans in prep.), Sa = Saighton, rural settlement near Chester, early second to late fourth century (Leary unpublished c), I=Irby rural settlement, late first to fourth century (Griffins unpublished), Mell= Mellor rural site, second to late fourth century (Leary 2005), Tarp= Tarporley rural site, late first to late second century (Fairburn 2003), T= Tarbock, legionary tilery and late first to late second century (Jones 2000).
The analyses of the samian vessel types (Ward this report and Figure 7), by contrast, disclosed a high level of decorated wares similar to the Fairclough site suggesting that this type of pottery was obtained at similar proportions throughout the settlement. The relative number of decorated samian bowls using rim percentage values was comparable but the Buckley’s Field site had rather more dishes and fewer cups. The relative quantities of amphora and samian ware generally were higher at the Fairclough site while other smaller differences such as the quantities of BB1, BB2, grey ware and oxidised wares (Figure 6) are due to the later dating emphasis at Buckley’s Field when BB1 and oxidised wares were more common and grey wares were being replaced by these wares.
Compared with other sites in the region, Buckley’s Field had less samian and amphora overall than the Manchester sites and is closer to the other “industrial” sites (Figure 5) but has significantly more than the rural sites with the exception of the unusual group from Mellor. The Wigan group has a remarkably large percentage for amphora and this is likely to be related to the function of the building as a bath house, an area in which oil might be in demand for cleansing and for scented oil-based preparations. Clearly these results highlight not only the differences in the ceramic assemblages at different kinds of sites but also in different functional areas within the settlements. This study should be augmented by looking at other evidence such as other artefact groups and evidence from flora and faunal remains both at site level and at regional levels.
Figure 5 Comparison of relative quantities of samian and amphora
(from all phases at sites except where indicated)
Figure 6 Relative quantities of major fabric groups using sherd count
Figure 7 Relative proportions of vessel types within the samian assemblage at the Fairclough site and Buckley’s Field (using EVES values)
Detailed study of the vessels types from the Buckley’s Field excavations compared with those from the L-P excavations at Faircloughs showed that the latter had more bowls and dishes, cups and beakers although the Buckley’s Field excavations recovered more flagons (Figure 8). When looked at in further detail, it is significant to note that not only were more bowls and dishes present at the Fairclough site but within the bowl and dishes and cups and beakers a greater proportion at the Fairclough site were made of samian (Figure 9), the tableware of choice for the rich, compared with the coarse ware types at Buckley’s Field. These factors imply the activities carried out on the Buckley’s Field site were of a lower social status than those on the Fairclough site and/or had a functional character than required less classy ceramics. It is significant that when the vessel types on each building area at the Fairclough site are compared with the overall figures for Buckley’s Field the Buckley’s Field group compares well with the material from the road at the southern limit of the Fairclough site excavations nearest to the Buckley’s Field excavations (Figure 10).
These differences in the characteristics of the ceramic assemblages from different parts of Roman Middlewich illustrate how areas of the settlement were used in different ways with some parts used for different industrial activities whereas others had a more domestic character. If the results from the pottery are compared with data for other artefact types, industrial and environmental remains, it may be possible to determine further characteristics of these areas for which the ceramics suggest contrasting functions.
Figure 8 Comparison of the relative numbers of different vessel types at Buckley’s Field and the Fairclough site
Figure 9 Comparison of relative quantities of vessel types found in phases 7-9 at Buckley’s Field (BF) and in the late first-early second (MF1) and Hadrianic-Antoine period (MF2) at the Fairclough site showing the relative percentages of samian bowls, dishes, cups and beakers.
Figure 10 comparison of relative quantities of vessel types from different building plots at the Fairclough site with the overall quantities from Buckley’s Field
ASSEMBLAGES OF SPECIAL CHARACTER
The group of pottery from pit 403 included an unusually large number of campanulate bowls with flaring rims. One of these bowls was oxidised and other sherds from the pit included distorted rim sherds from the neckless everted-rim jars typical of the late first to early second century. This raised the possibility that this group may have been kiln waste. Since the group included BB1 vessels dating to the Hadrianic period, this suggests pottery manufacture continued at Middlewich at least until that period. The presence of a used tazze and a mica-dusted beaker with evidence of scorching around the rim suggested that this group may have a ritual character. At a kiln site at East Winch in the Nar Valley, Norfolk two waster vessels had been deliberately halved longitudinally and placed in two different kilns at the end of their working lives (Andrew Peachey pers comm.). At St Wilfrid’s Rd, Doncaster two similar deposits were found in ditches near the Cantley kilns (Leary unpublished d). Two near complete vessels, both wasters, occurring alone in pit F45 and a used Dales ware jar was found in the bottom of ditch with a near complete GRB1 indented beaker. These may all be deliberate placements representing structural deposition. The complete nature of the group in pit F45 and their isolation suggests these may also be offerings to some chthonic deity, their imperfect condition representing the need for success in kiln firings. The Dales ware jar and beaker, placed in the ditch, date to the end of the settlement and may relate to rites of termination. At both East Winch and Cantley these may represent “rites of closure” marking the end of the life of the kilns (Merrifield 1987, 48-50). This pit group here may be a similar phenomenon to the two wasters pots from Cantley, perhaps an offering to the gods after an unsuccessful firing in the hope of better results in future.
Specialized vessels such as colanders and so-called “wine-strainers” were not identified but three vessels hint at the spiritual side of life. A lamp fragment and a carinated beaker with an applied hammer motif associated with the Smith God Vulcan (137-138) came from unstratified levels. Both of these may be related to ritual activities and the motif related to Vulcan may be linked to the evidence for iron working at Middlewich (Strickland 2001, 58 and Williams and Reid forthcoming). Graham Webster has discussed the incidence of Vulcan figures on pots from Roman Britain (1989) and it is noticeable that several of these pots come from military sites such as Corbridge and some were associated with smithing (as at Elmswell, Webster 1989, 19). Unfortunately the lamp and Vulcan pot were not in their original context.
A third ritual vessel, a tazze (16), came from pit 405. Tazzes were incense burners and this one has been scorched around the inside from use. The integration of acts of worship and devotion with everyday life was more pronounced in Roman times when such acts would form an integral part of life even in the industrial areas of the settlement. It may be that an unsuccessful kiln firing resulting in the discard of the many bowls found in pit 403 also required the deposition of a tazze, perhaps still lit, as an offering to the gods to ensure future successful firings.
The pottery from cremation in trench 2 sherds light on cremation rituals in the mid-third century. Sherds from a burnt BB1 jar (15) were deposited with the cremation and are likely to represent remains of pyre goods deposited on the cremation pyre and gathered up with the cremated remains for burial. The fragmentary and incomplete condition of the pot makes it unlikely that this was a cremation urn deposited intact to hold the cremated bones. Ceramic vessels offered on the pyre are known in the third century cemetery at Brougham (Cool et al 2004, 441-2) although it can be difficult to distinguish such sherds from vessels placed at the side of the pyre and scorched. At an earlier cemetery at Wall, Warwickshire, evidence was found in some cremations for BB1 jars and beakers having been offered on the pyre and then fragments collected with the cremated remains (Leary 2008).
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).v
Too little pottery was recovered from the stratified deposits of this date (15 sherds) to reconstruct the wares being used on the site in this phase. However vessels of this date from later deposits included rusticated and plain jars with grooved shoulders and short everted rims in grey ware fabrics GRA1, GRA1B, GRB1, GRB2, GRB3, GRC1, MG3, OAA1 and OAB1, with only two sherds in the last two fabrics.
The late first-early second century kiln at Middlewich had a kiln load of ring-necked flagons and neckless, everted–rim jars, some with linear rustication. The jars were in a grey ware and the flagons included both grey ware and oxidised, white-slipped flagons. Some of the white-slipped flagons may have come from this local pottery and waster sherds were present whereas the white ware flagons are likely to have come from potteries also trading mortaria with the site such as those at Mancetter-Hartshill and Wroxeter. Nine bodysherds in a distinctively granular white ware typical of the kilns near St Albans may represent flagons from that industry which supplied Middlewich with mortaria during the late first and early second century.
One white-slipped “honey-pot” was identified. This form was made at the kilns at Holt and Wilderspool (Hartley and Webster 1973, no.39, Grimes 1930 nos 69 and 72) and is common in the first century, but was still present in Antonine levels at Manchester and Whitchurch (Leary 2007 fig 3.59 no. 115 and Webster 1969 no. 179). One uncommon white ware “honey-pot” was also present and this may have come from Wroxeter where the form is known to have been made in a white-slipped ware and also a cream ware (Evans 2000, 207 type JH3, JH2.11 in cream ware).
A hemi-spherical bowl in fabric GRB8, copying samian form 37, compares to a vessel from SLP and a bowl made at the early second century kiln at Northwich (Jones 1972 fig. 11 no. 16). Other bowls dating to this phase comprise a reeded-rim bowl and some carinated MG2 bowls. Two eggshell ware terra nigra vessels are likely to date from the mid- to late first century. One was the common carinated beaker form while another sherd had unusual rouletted decoration, but is likely to be of the same date range.
Fine wares other than samian were scarce. Several oxidised and reduced mica-dusted wares used to make beakers and carinated bowls were identified and these were also found at the Fairclough site. The reduced mica-dusted wares were similar to group from Manchester and may have been made there. At Middlewich and at Manchester Barton Street the mica-dusted wares were most common in the Trajanic-Hadrianic period although a third century mica-dusted oxidised ware is known from Nantwich (Evans in prep.). The earlier group included indented beakers, carinated bowls, a bead-rim hemi-spherical bowl and a reeded-rim bowl. One scrap of Central Gaulish glazed ware belongs to this phase. Eggshell terra nigra ware was also found at the Fairclough site but the scrap of Central Gaulish ware (see http://www.worcestershireceramics.org/hms/object.php?type=fabrics&id=107 for details of this ware) is not paralleled there.
Both imported and local colour-coated roughcast beakers were present in small numbers on both Middlewich sites. The mortaria of this date came from the Verulamium kilns and north Gaul. At the Fairclough site these were further augmented by mortaria from Holt and the Rhone Valley.
The assemblage compared very well with the Hadrianic-Antonine groups from the Fairclough site. Some 26% of the pottery assemblage was locally produced grey ware either from Middlewich or other kilns on the Cheshire Plain, and a further 21% comprised oxidised Cheshire Plain fabrics. 16% of the group assemblage came from the black burnished ware industry in Dorset and 2% from the Severn Valley industries. The quantity of BB1 is somewhat greater than at the Fairclough site overall but compares very well with the Hadrianic-early Antonine groups as does the Severn Valley ware contribution. The single BB2 jar is unusual but small numbers of BB2 are known from the Cheshire Plain such as two sherds from the Beetham Hilton Hotel site, Deansgate, Manchester (Martin in prep.).
Changes in the quantities of wares by phase show a rise in the amounts of BB1 vessels reaching the site between the phases 7 and 8 which is also found at the Fairclough site. At Manchester Barton St the rise in BB1 occurred in Phase 3.1 dating to cAD160. Discounting the small early groups in phases 4-6, the oxidised Cheshire Plain wares increased numerically in phases 8, 9 and 10 as the reduced wares became less common. The Severn Valley type wares also increase during this period. The evidence for wasters and distorted sherds suggests that some of the reduced wares came from local kilns, but the absence of oxidised wasters may indicate a decline or cessation of production at kilns in Middlewich by the mid-second century.
The BB1 vessels comprised everted-rim jars with lattice burnish, flat-rim bowls and dishes, plain and grooved-rim dishes, small jars/beakers and some lids and small numbers of the late jars with obtuse lattice, one bead and flange bowl and one grooved, flat-rim bowl. 56% of the BB1 vessels were jars and of these most were of Hadrianic-early Antonine date. Around 32% were bowls and dishes dominated by the Hadrianic-early Antonine bowls and dishes with flat rims with some so-called dog-dishes with grooved or plain rims.
The grey wares were less common in this phase. The campanulate bowls in pit 403 are of this date and some of the neckless, everted-rim jars may have continued to be used in the Hadrianic period. Other forms such as the narrow-necked jars are difficult to date securely typologically and as much of the late first to early second century material was present in the later groups, it is not possible to date them stratigraphically. A flanged hemi-spherical bowl may belong to this period as may the roughcast beakers. However during this period the oxidised wares became more common.
The oxidised wares included hemi-spherical bowls copying samian forms 30 and 37, a flanged, hemi-spherical bowl and everted-rim beakers, perhaps originally roughcast. From phase 8 onwards several narrow-necked and wide-mouthed jars appeared which were similar to vessels made in the Severn Valley industries. Two of these, both narrow-necked jars with wedge-shaped rims, were in a finer fabric similar to some of the Severn Valley ware fabrics. Only four vessels, two narrow-necked jars and two wide-mouthed bowls, were certainly identified as Severn Valley ware.
The flagons were made up of white wares and local white-slipped wares in similar proportions. The overall numbers of white and white-slipped wares were very similar to those from the Fairclough site and occurred in similar proportions throughout phases 6-9. It is likely that the white-slipped wares came from potteries such a those at Wroxeter and Mancetter-Hartshill since evidence from kilns on the Cheshire Plain suggests that the local clays fired to an orange colour and were slipped to obtain a white surface. It is not clear whether the later ring-necked flagons in white-slipped wares were locally produced or traded with the mortaria in similar fabrics from larger potteries such as those at Wilderspool. The white-slipped flagons were predominantly ring-necked forms, with a slightly splayed profile. Also present was a cupped-rim form (1) and one flagon with a simple everted-rim form (as Leary 2007 fig. 3.59 no. 116 from an Antonine group at Manchester Barton St.). Three examples of the white-slipped flagons were burnt or overfired and could be wasters. Unfortunately these were represented by bodysherds only and their full form is unknown. Two overfired mortaria from SLP were probably wasters and of local manufacture in Middlewich or in the vicinity. These dated to cAD 130-60 so it may be suggested that local manufacture of pottery extended into the early Antonine period and included mortaria and possibly also flagons. No other Antonine wasters have been identified.
The white ware flagons included one ring-necked flagon but most of the vessels were large with bead rims, rebated internally similar to the form of the imported Gallic wine amphora. David Williams commented that in general, the fabric was too coarse to represent most of the Gauloise series, certainly the Narbonnensian Gauloise 4, the most common Gauloise form found in Roman Britain and classified them as flagons. The well-sorted quartz grains in the fabric, together with occasional strands of muscovite mica may well derive from the local Triassic Sandstones. Similar vessels were identified at the Fairclough site and at Manchester Barton St (Leary forthcoming no. 192, Webster 1974 no.230 and Leary 2007 fig. 6.32 no. 167) and at Warrington (Webster 1992 no. 209) associated with Antonine coarse pottery and samian. In addition similar vessels have been noted at Rocester (Leary forthcoming). The example from Manchester is double handled. Several similar vessels were found at Derby Little Chester (Birss 1985 fig. 40 no. 41 and fig. 41 no. 70). Most of the dating evidence points to a date range in the Hadrianic-Antonine period. The form is similar but smaller than the British-made Gauloise 4 amphorae from St Albans and London (Symonds 2003). The source of these flagons has not yet been established.
There were fewer samian vessels in the stratified groups than at the Fairclough site but this was due to functional differences within the excavated areas (8% rather than the 13% at the Fairclough site).
As in the late first-early second century fine wares other than samian were scarce. Local and possibly imported roughcast beakers were present at low levels (<1%) but no red-slipped fine ware of the type made at Wilderspool was present.
Small amounts of traded wares came from the Midlands and Derbyshire. The shell-tempered and grog-tempered storage jars came from the south Midlands (Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire). The shell-tempered ware may all be from one vessel, a large storage jar with cordon and grooves, similar in form and fabric to a vessel from Harrold, Bedfordshire (107). The grog-tempered sherds were undiagnostic except sherds from one storage jar (29). Three slightly different fabrics were identified and these may belong to a ware group from the south Midlands around Towcester in Northamptonshire known as early pink-grogged ware, which developed into a late pink grogged fabric with a wider distribution pattern (Booth and Green 1989). An early rebated-rim jar (Booth and Green 1989 nos 15-16) was identified in the Fairclough site (Leary forthcoming no. 82). Six sherds from Derbyshire ware jars were identified and these can be paralleled at Nantwich, Wilderspool and Mellor on the Cheshire plain, and also at Ribchester and Quernmore (Webster 1982, 22, Jones and Shotter 1988, 142 and Hinchcliffe and Williams 1992, 151 no. 668). An early-Derbyshire ware jar was also identified at Melandra (Webster 1971, 104 no. 181). These vessels may well have been distributed on a small scale for their contents and have also been identified at Walton-le-Dale (Evans in prep) but not at Manchester (Leary 2007). Alternatively they could represent the movement of troops from the Midlands to the Cheshire Plain as has been suggested for the Cumbrian mortaria found at the Fairclough site (Hartley and Leary forthcoming).
Some small sherds from a Malvernian jar was identified (http://www.worcestershireceramics.org/hms/object.php?type=fabrics&id=139, Peacock 1967) and a vessel of this type was also found at the Fairclough site. It has been suggested that Malvernian jars may have been used for the distribution of salt (Peacock 1967, 27). Although it is unlikely that salt would be being traded to Middlewich, it may represent the personal belongings of a salt worker in the Malvern area who was visiting or had moved to the site for work.
Considerably fewer amphora sherds were present at Buckley’s Field compared with the Fairclough site (3% rather than 8%). Most of the vessels were Dressel 20 oil amphorae with 0.3% of the ceramic assemblage being Gallic amphorae. The globular-shaped amphora form Dressel 20 (Peacock and Williams, 1986, Class 25) carried olive-oil from the Roman province of Baetica in southern Spain and is found on many sites in Britain, showing something of the wide distribution of olive-oil in the Roman Empire (Williams and Peacock, 1983). Dressel 20 amphorae were produced over a long period, from the reign of Claudius until shortly after the middle of the third century AD and well over 100 Dressel 20 kilns in the region of the River Guadalquivir are known to date (Rodriguez Almeida, 1989). A number of body and basal sherds most probably belong to the flat-bottomed Gauloise amphora series from southern France and date from the mid first century AD to around the end of the third century AD (Laubenheimer, 1985). This was the most common wine amphora imported into Roman Britain during the second century AD and predominantly from Narbonensis. At the Fairclough site a greater range of amphorae were identified including Verulamium amphora sherds and four sherds from an amphora from Lipari, which seems to have carried alum and is dated to the first century AD and early second century (Borgard and Cavalier, 2003).
In the first half of the second century the sources supplying mortaria in the late first to early second century were superseded by local production at Wilderspool and (as yet) unexcavated kilns suspected elsewhere on the Cheshire Plain. Fragments of eight vessels dating to the first half of the second century were identified as products of the Wroxeter kilns, with a small number (about three or four) of early Mancetter-Hartshill mortaria. None of the mortaria from kilns on the Cheshire Plain can be certainly dated after cAD160 whereas eleven of the Mancetter-Hartshill mortaria can be dated after AD140. Mancetter-Hartshill is the only source contributing mortaria in the third century in this part of Middlewich.
Very little pottery dated to this period. A small number of oxidised wares from the later phases date typologically to the later second and third century, such as the bifid-rim narrow-mouthed jars (11-13) and wide-mouthed jars (67 and 105) and some of these were of Severn Valley type. The late BB1 vessels comprised one grooved, flat-rim bowl and a bead and flange bowl and at least five late jars with obtuse lattice. Also belonging to the late Roman period were two shell-tempered ware jars of south Midlands type (100 and 110) and six mortaria of typologically late form. The late Nene Valley mortaria present at the Fairclough site were not found in this group, and Nene Valley colour-coated ware was uncommon. This ware is scare generally at Roman sites on the Cheshire Plain (<1%). One scrap of Trier black slipped ware was also identified. Four sherds of this ware were present at the Fairclough site, and one sherd at Nantwich (Evans in prep).
The assemblage indicated activity from the late first/early second to the mid-second century with rather less activity after cAD160. Later activity included a mid-third century cremation but no pottery sherd has to be dated later than the middle of the third century with the exception, possibly, of the two shell-tempered jars.
The assemblage is broadly similar to that previously excavated from the Fairclough Site, but showed distinctive characteristics relating to the function of the area and its position towards the edge of the town. Changes in the ceramics coming to the site over time were similar to that found elsewhere in Middlewich and suggest a decline in locally made ceramics in the early second century and a rise in traded coarse wares from Dorset and from kilns on the Cheshire Plain at Wilderspool and other unlocated kilns. The level of decorated samian indicated the settlement had a military-type assemblage but the characteristics of the group in terms of other luxury goods and table ware: kitchen ware ratios suggest the area was of fairly low status. The evidence of the sherds conditions and secondary usage of vessels such as amphorae contrasted with that at the Fairclough Site, where vessels such as amphorae and flagons had been utilised in industrial activities relating to salt production. No such evidence was noted in this excavated area. Some evidence for religious activity was recovered, in addition to the cremation burial, and suggested ritual acts, perhaps related to the industrial activities being carried out in the vicinity, namely potting and iron working. The evidence adds to our understanding of how the settlement at Middlewich may have been zoned according to the activities being carried out.The assemblage indicated activity from the late first/early second to the mid-second century with rather less activity after cAD160. Later activity included a mid-third century cremation but no pottery sherd has to be dated later than the middle of the third century with the exception, possibly, of the two shell-tempered jars.
The assemblage is broadly similar to that previously excavated from the Fairclough Site, but showed distinctive characteristics relating to the function of the area and its position towards the edge of the town. Changes in the ceramics coming to the site over time were similar to that found elsewhere in Middlewich and suggest a decline in locally made ceramics in the early second century and a rise in traded coarse wares from Dorset and from kilns on the Cheshire Plain at Wilderspool and other unlocated kilns. The level of decorated samian indicated the settlement had a military-type assemblage but the characteristics of the group in terms of other luxury goods and table ware: kitchen ware ratios suggest the area was of fairly low status. The evidence of the sherds conditions and secondary usage of vessels such as amphorae contrasted with that at the Fairclough Site, where vessels such as amphorae and flagons had been utilised in industrial activities relating to salt production. No such evidence was noted in this excavated area. Some evidence for religious activity was recovered, in addition to the cremation burial, and suggested ritual acts, perhaps related to the industrial activities being carried out in the vicinity, namely potting and iron working. The evidence adds to our understanding of how the settlement at Middlewich may have been zoned according to the activities being carried out.
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Peacock, D.P.S. 1967 Romano-British Pottery Production in the Malvern District of Worcestershire. Transactions of the Worcestershire Archaeological Society, 3rd Series 1 (1965-7), 15-28.
Peacock, D. P. S and Williams, D. F. (1986) Amphorae and the Roman Economy, London.
Rogers, I.R. and Garner, D.J. 2007 Wilderspool and Holditch Roman Boom-Towns on the ‘Road North’. BAR British Series 449.
Shotter, D.C.A. 2000 Middlewich The evidence of Roman Coin Loss. Journal of Chester Archaeological Society 75(for 1998-9), 51-60.
Strickland, T 2001 Roman Middlewich. The Roman Middlewich Project.
Swan, V G 2002 The Roman pottery of Yorkshire in its Wider Historical Context. P. Wilson and J. Price (eds) Aspects of Industry in Roman Yorkshire and the North, 35-79. Oxbow
Tomlin, R S O 1988 The curse tablets, in Cunliffe, B (ed), The Temple of Sulis Minerva at Bath, Vol 2. The Finds from the Sacred Spring, Oxford. Univ. Comm. Archaeol. Monograph 16, 59-277.
Symonds, R. P, 2003 Romano-British amphorae. Journal of Roman Pottery studies 10, 50-59.
Ward, M. 1981 Terra nigra – Type wares from Chester. In A.S Anderson and A.S Anderson (eds) Roman Pottery Research in Britain and North West Europe BAR Suppl Ser. 123, 51-68
Webster, G. 1989 Deities and religious scenes on Romano-British pottery. Journal of Roman Pottery Studies 2, 1-28
Webster, P.V. 1971 Melandra castle Roman Fort: excavations in the civil settlement 1966-1969. DAJ XCI, 58-117.
Webster. P.V. 1976 Severn Valley ware: a preliminary study. Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucs Archaeological Society 94, 18-46.
Webster, P.V. 1982 Romano-British Coarse Pottery in North-West England – an Introduction. Lancashire Archaeological Journal 2, 13-31.
Webster, P.V. 1991 Pottery supply to the Roman north-west. Journal of Roman Pottery Studies 4, 11-18.
Webster, P.V. 1992 The Coarse Pottery. In Hinchcliffe, J. and Williams, J.H. 1992 Roman Warrington, excavations at Wilderspool 1966-9 and 1976. Brigantia Monograph 2, 42-78 and 124-150.
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The fabric of the pottery was first examined by eye and sorted into fabric groups on the basis of colour, hardness, feel, fracture, inclusions and manufacturing technique. A sample of the sherds was further examined under an x30 binocular microscope to verify these divisions. The size of the sample was as large as was felt necessary for each fabric group. The fabrics codes are hierarchical in character. The first one or two letters denotes the general fabric group, as in GR = grey ware, the second coarseness, as in GRA = fine grey ware, whilst the numbers indicate further subdivisions based on characteristics of the fabrics. Reference is made to the National Fabric Collection (NFC) where relevant (Tomber & Dore 1998) and common ware names are given where known. In the case of well-known traded wares, the NFC code is not supplemented by detailed descriptions. The range of forms in each fabric group is indicated.
Colour: narrative description only
Hardness: after Peacock 1977
soft – can be scratched by finger nail
hard – can be scratched with penknife blade
very hard – cannot be scratched
Feel: tactile qualities
smooth – no irregularities
rough – irregularities can be felt
sandy – grains can be felt across the surface
leathery – smoothed surface like polished leather
soapy – smooth feel like soap
Fracture: visual texture of fresh break, after Orton 1980.
smooth – flat or slightly curved with no visible irregularities
irregular – medium, fairly widely spaced irregularities
finely irregular – small, fairly closely spaced irregularities
laminar – stepped effect
hackly – large and generally angular irregularities
Type: after Peacock 1977
Frequency: indicated on a 4-point scale – abundant, moderate, sparse and rare where abundant is a break packed with an inclusion and rare is a break with only one or two of an inclusion.
Sorting: after Orton 1980
Shape: angular – convex shape, sharp corners
subangular – convex shape, rounded corners
rounded – convex shape no corners
platey – flat
Size: subvisible – only just visible at x30 and too small to measure
fine – 0.1-0.25mm
medium – 0.25-0.5
coarse – 0.5-1mm
very coarse – over 1mm
BB1 Black burnished ware 1. As Tomber and Dore 1997 BB1 DOR
The principal vessel types obtained in BB1 were, as usual, necked jars and flat-rim bowls and dishes of Hadrianic-early Antonine type. To these may be added a smaller number of neckless, everted-rim jars, plain- and grooved-rim dishes, grooved, flat-rim bowls/dishes, bead and flanged bowls and lids. 36% of the necked jars had burnished wavy lines on their necks, a feature going out of use around the middle of the second century. This is substantially less than at the Fairclough site where 61% of the jars had wavy line burnish on the neck and this characteristic points towards a later date range for the site. Intersecting arcs and chevron burnish on the bowls and dishes were restricted to c 2% of the vessels, plain-rim dishes. These motifs gradually overtook the cross hatched burnish on BB1 bowls and dishes during the late second and early third century and this small percentage indicate little activity at this time on the site. This is supported by the small numbers of grooved, flat-rim or flanged bowls (one example each) and the necked jars with more everted rims (one example) characteristic of the late second century. Small jars, similar in form to the necked jars, were also present as were the globular neckless jars, both groups typical of the Hadrianic-early Antonine period. Lids with zigzag and intersecting loops burnished decoration were identified but no flagons were present. Five late splayed rim jars were represented dating to third century (Gillam 1976 nos 8 and 10, dated to after cAD220 by Bidwell and Holbrook 1991, 95).
BB2 black burnished ware category 2. As Tomber and Dore 1998 BB2. See
One jar, as Gillam 1970 no. 139 and Marsh and Tyers 1978 type IIF.5, dated to the later second century. BB2 jars are uncommon in the region but were present in small numbers on sites to the north such as Lancaster and Ribchester.
GRA: fine grey wares
GRA1 pale grey, sometimes the core is lighter, very hard with smooth feel and fracture. Rare, fine quartz.
A fine fabric used to make neckless everted rim jars, including one rusticated jar, of the late first to early second century and a necked everted rim jar of similar date but probably more common in the late first century. Two carinated, everted-rim bowls, one with an everted rim and one with a moulded rim were also found in this fabric. The forms indicate this fabric was primarily used in the late first-early second century. This was also the case in the Fairclough site. assemblage.
GRA1B as GRA1 but with grey surfaces and brown core.
This small group included examples of the neckless everted-rim jars made in GRA1, an everted rim bowl, a flanged hemi-spherical bowl and the body and handle stump of a flagon or jug, perhaps a “honey pot” type vessel. A similar date range to group GRA1 is indicated. One of the rims of a neckless everted-rim jar was slightly distorted.
GRA2 Grey with paler core. Hard, smooth feel and fracture. Moderate very fine, subvisible quartz (at x30).
Neckless everted-rim jars including rusticated jars, one necked, everted-rim jar, a ring-and-dot beaker, a narrow-necked jar with everted rim, a reeded-rim bowl, a campanulate bowl and a lid. The campanulate bowl is similar to Terra Nigra bowls of Pre-Flavian to Flavian date and their fabric was borderline between GRB1 and GRA2. However on the Fairclough site excavations, this form was associated with Hadrianic-early Antonine pottery. Cf at York type BB (Monaghan 1998 no. 3935) dated Flavian to Hadrianic-early Antonine and at Warrington (Webster 1992, fig. 32 nos 246, 313 and at Whitchurch in a Flavian-Trajanic and a late second century group Jones and Webster 1969, nos 124 and 148) where a Gallo-Belgic derivation is noted with continuation into the late second century, Gillam 1970 nos 211-2). The other vessels belong to the late first to early second century. Several waster sherds were identified in this group and these included a misfired neckless jar with short everted rim, a distorted rusticated jar and five underfired bodysherds.
GRA4 Severn Valley type reduced ware with vesicles and black inclusions -charcoal. Grey with reddish brown core. Fairly hard and smooth fracture and feel, moderate very fine quartz and sparse fine red/brown and black inclusions. Similar to SV reduced ware but probably not fine enough
Only bodysherds were identified in this group. One sherd group of four sherds included flaked examples which may be wasters but such a condition could also result from exposure to high temperatures on a fire or pyre.
TN EGGS brownish grey with dark grey/black surface. Smooth, soft with slightly irregular fracture. Sparse, medium, subrounded quartz. Micaceous. Eggshell ware. GAB TN 2 Carinated beaker
GRA8 very pale grey, sometimes the core is lighter, with traces of dark grey self slip, very hard with smooth feel and fracture. Rare, fine quartz and possibly more very fine quartz. Rare coarse brown inclusions. As GRA1 but lighter
Only two undiagnostic bodysherds.
GRB: medium sandy greywares
GRB1 Hard with fairly smooth feel if surface unabraded. Sandy if abraded. Sparse-moderate, well sorted medium subangular quartz as OAB1, sparse ill-sorted medium-fine rounded grey inclusions. Darker grey slip/self-slip. Several campanulate bowls, including examples partially oxidised which may be wasters, circle and dot beakers, necked everted-rim jars, neckless everted rim jars, rusticated jars, lids and one narrow-necked jar with everted rim.
GRB2 Grey without obvious slip. Sandy, hard with irregular fracture and moderate-abundant well-sorted, medium, subangular quartz. Tends to feel coarser than GRB1.
One reeded-rim bowl, neckless everted rim jars and necked everted rim jars, rusticated jars, rilled jars, ring-necked flagon, narrow-necked everted-rim jar and lids. Wasters with overfired, distorted, misfired and bubbled characteristics included jar bodysherds, part of a ring-necked flagon, a necked everted-rim jar and a narrow-necked everted rim jar. The vessels range from the late first to early second century in date.
GRB3 Grey without obvious slip with brown core or margins. Sandy, hard with irregular fracture and moderate-abundant well-sorted, medium, subangular quartz. Tends to feel coarser than GRB1.
Lid, narrow-mouthed jar with everted rim, roughcast beaker, constricted-mouth jars with zones of burnished wavy line or vertical line decoration, a flange and a carinated body, both probably from bowls.
GRB5 Hard smooth grey fabric with brown core. Moderate well-sorted rounded medium quartz. Micaceous surface.
Three sherds, one from a narrow-mouthed jar with rebated rim.
GRB8 light grey hard with rough feel and irregular fracture. Sparse, medium, subangular quartz and sparse, rounded medium brown inclusions
Hemispherical bowls with bead rim copying samian form 37, a sherd with barbotine dots and a necked jar with everted rim.
GRB10 dark grey/ black, often with brownish core or margin, fairly smooth (not sandy or powdery), hard with irregular fracture. Moderate, well-sorted, medium, subrounded quartz and sparse mica. This is similar to GRA1B but has a rather leathery feel that distinguishes it.
One small bodysherd may be in this fabric
GRB11 Light grey with greyish white core. Hard, smooth with irregular fracture. Like GRA8 but coarser. Sparse, medium. Subrounded well-sorted quartz and sparse, medium rounded grey inclusions
Seven sherds were possibly in this ware.
GRB12 grey with brown margins and grey core. Hard, quite smooth feel and irregular fracture. Sparse to moderate, medium, subrounded quartz, sparse, ill-sorted fine to coarse, subangular grey and cream inclusions (non-reactive) – siltstones or clay pellets, possibly some grog. The fabric has some vesicles. Perhaps related to group G.
GRB13 grey with brown margins and grey core. Hard, sandy feel and irregular fracture. Moderate, well-sorted, medium, subangular quartz, sparse, medium rounded brown inclusions, iron oxides, and rare fine white inclusions. Possibly a variant of GRB1 and 2
Narrow mouthed jar with everted rim.
GRC: coarse grey ware
GRC1 Grey hard with gritty feel and hackly fracture. Abundant, well-sorted, medium-coarse sub rounded quartz
Bodysherds and one neckless jar with everted rim of late first-early second century date.
GRC3 Dark grey with slightly grey core. Hard with smooth feel and hackly fracture. Abundant well-sorted medium subrounded quartz. Like GRC1 but finer quartz and fracture looks similar to BB1 in texture. But less quartz and like GRC2 but for colour
GRC4 light grey with brown inner margin. Hard, smooth with hackly fracture. Abundant, ill-sorted, medium to coarse, subrounded quartz . This could be variant of Cheshire Plains grey ware
One rim sherd from a wide-mouthed jar with everted rim and one sherd from an unusual beaker with long neck, plain rim and bulbous body.
GRC5 grey, very hard and granular with hackly fracture. Abundant, well-sorted medium/coarse, subangular quartz.
GRC6 grey with brown core. Hard, fairly smooth with irregular fracture. Moderate, ill-sorted, fine to coarse, subrounded quartz.
Chamfered bowl or dish and narrow-necked jar with everted rim.
O Oxidised wares
OAA: fine oxidised ware
OAA1 Cheshire Plain fine medium orange. Soft with powdery/sandy feel and smooth fracture. Sparse, well-sorted, fine quartz and sparse ill-sorted fine to medium, rounded red brown inclusions
Neckless, everted-rim jars, a lid and cupped rim carinated bowl. Some vessels in this group may be Severn Valley ware and these included narrow-mouthed jars with wedge-shaped everted and bifid rims, a bowl Webster 1976 type 50 and a vessel with straight side, flat rim and very large diameter of unparalleled form.
OAA2 Medium orange. Soft with powdery/sandy feel and irregular fracture. Common, well-sorted, fine quartz and sparse ill-sorted fine to medium, rounded red brown inclusions. As OAA2 but more quartz.
Rouletted beakers, bifid rim narrow-mouthed jars, and wedge-shaped everted rim wide-mouthed jars.
OAA4 orange, smooth with very smooth fracture. Sparse, ill-sorted fine to medium, subrounded quartz. with sparse medium black inclusions – possibly fine charcoal-tempered SV. Micaceous
All body or base sherds. One carinated beaker or bowl and one narrow necked jar represented.
OAB: medium sandy oxidised wares
OAB1 Cheshire Plain medium Orange, hard to soft with rather sandy feel and quite smooth fracture. Sparse-moderate, ill-sorted medium to coarse subangular quartz, sparse, ill-sorted, rounded red/brown and grey inclusions
Samian form 37 copies including one with rouletted decoration and a second with traces of possible mica-dusting, two flanged, hemi-spherical bowls, a ring-necked flagon and a honey pot, a neckless, everted-rim jar, a narrow necked jar with bifid everted rim and one with wedge-shaped everted rim and a roughcast beaker, probably originally colour-coated. Bodysherds with acute lattice burnish and cordons were also present, perhaps from narrow-necked jars.
OAB2 orange, hard with sandy feel and hackly fracture. Abundant well-sorted, medium, subrounded quartz, sparse, medium, rounded red/brown inclusions. Sandier than most Cheshire Plain ware. More like texture of BB1 or FLA4.
Body sherds and one everted rim from a wide-mouthed jar.
OAB4 Fairly pale orange with buff core. Soft with powdery feel and irregular fracture Sparse, medium subrounded quartz, moderate ill-sorted fine to medium rounded and elongated voids and sparse ill-sorted rounded white inclusions. Compares well with some SV ware.
Everted rim jug with handle
OAB5 Brownish red. Sandy feel and irregular fracture. Fairly hard. Abundant medium, well sorted quartz and sparse medium well sorted black and brown inclusions. Some of black may be charcoal. Colour is similar to SV but sandy feel is not.
Grooved-rim dish, flagon neck, rouletted sherd and samian form 37 copy.
OAB6 Hard, smooth pink fabric with cream/buff core. Irregular fracture. Moderate, well-sorted subrounded quartz and sparse, medium, rounded red/brown ferruginous inclusions, rare coarse rounded black inclusions
One narrow necked jar bodysherd.
OAC1 orange hard with gritty feel and hackly fracture. Abundant, well-sorted, medium-coarse sub rounded quartz
16 body and base sherds.
OBA1 = OAA1 but buff
Short everted rim jar
OBA2 = OAA2 but buff
Bodysherds and lid.
OBB1 as OAB1 but buff
Bead-rim narrow-necked jar, rouletted beaker and campanulate bowl.
OBB2 buff with rough feel and irregular fracture. Sparse-moderate ill-sorted medium subangular quartz, sparse, ill-sorted, angular and elongated vesicles, rare ill-sorted rounded brown inclusions.
OBC as OAC
SV Severn Valley type wares
SV1 Severn Valley ware. Reddish brown with virtually inclusionless matrix. Sparse fine quartz. Micaceous.
Two everted-rim, wide-mouthed jars
SV2 Severn Valley ware with voids. Orange with grey core. Soft but fairly smooth. Irregular fracture. Moderate ill-sorted elongated voids, fine to coarse, visible on surface. Sparse mica and black inclusions. Texture suggests subvisible quartz
A narrow-mouthed jar with everted rim.
SV3 Severn Valley ware with charcoal
DBY Derbyshire ware
NFC DBY COR
FL White and white-slipped wares
FLA1 White or off white. Probably with darker cream slip. Fairly hard with smooth feel and fracture. Very few inclusions, rare quartz and rounded red/brown. FLA1P pinkish.
Flagon sherds and one possible beaker bodysherd. Rim sherd from beaker with painted arcs.
FLA2 White Hard, smooth with irregular fracture Moderate, well-sorted, medium/fine, subrounded quartz and sparse, ill-sorted medium to fine red/brown inclusions. FLA2P – pinkish.
Ring-necked flagons and one flagon with flat out bent rim and one neck cordon. Several Gauloise 4 type rims and one miniature honeypot.
FLA3 Yellowish cream with darker slip firing yellow-buff. Hard and smooth, slightly grainy on inside. Irregular fracture. Abundant, well-sorted, fine, subrounded quartz and sparse to moderate, ill-sorted, rounded medium to fine red inclusions.
FLA4 Brockley Hill flagon/amphora ware
FLA7 Cream sometimes with grey core. Hard with sandy feel and irregular fracture. Sparse ill-sorted, medium to fine crystalline quartz and moderate, ill sorted fine-medium rounded grey and brown inclusions
Ring-necked flagons and bodysherds including overfired examples and possible wasters
FLA10 Hard, smooth drab buff with grey core. Irregular fracture. Sparse quartz and coarse rounded orange inclusions. Micaceous surfaces.
Flagon neck and a flagon handle.
FLA13 dirty cream with grey surfaces. Hard and with lumpy feel and irregular fracture. Sparse, subangular, medium quartz, rare, medium to coarse, rounded orange/brown inclusions.
FLA14 dirty cream surface and light grey core. Like GRC5. Very hard and granular with hackly fracture. Abundant, well-sorted medium/coarse, subangular quartz. Possibly a St Albans fabric.
FLB1 Orange, quite pale with white slip. Soft with smooth or sandy/powdery feel and slightly irregular fracture. Sparse well-sorted subangular quartz and rare rounded grey inclusions
Samian form 29 copy with rouletting, bead-rim lid or dish, tazze, ring-necked flagons, cupped-rim flagon, flagons with outbent flat rim and cordon on neck and everted rim flagons. Several misfired and burnt, possibly wasters.
FLB2 Red-orange. B=brownish red. Hard with sandy feel and irregular fracture. Traces of white slip. Moderate well-sorted medium, subangular quartz, sparse, coarse, rounded grey inclusions
Flagon body and base sherds, some burnt possible waster.
FLB3 fine hard brownish orange with grey core. Smooth feel and fracture. Rare medium quartz and orange inclusions. Micaceous with dirty white slip
F Fine wares
GMG1 as GRA1B with mica gilt
MG2 orange with traces of mica gilt. Fairly soft and smooth. Irregular fracture Common, well-sorted, fine quartz and sparse ill-sorted fine to medium, rounded, red brown inclusions
Carinated bowl sherds and a carinated bowl with bell shaped rim.
MG3 Orange with traces of mica gilt. Fairly hard with slightly sandy feel. Orange with grey core. Moderate, ill-sorted fine to medium subrounded quartz and sparse rounded red/brown inclusions. Micaceous. Coarser than MG2 but similar. Like OAB1
Folded beaker sherds and short, everted rim neckless beaker or small jar
MG9 as OAB5 but with mica dusting. Bodysherd only
MG10 light brown with buff/grey core with traces of mica slip. Hard with smooth feel and fracture. Sparse, ill-sorted, fine to coarse, subangular quartz
Reeded rim bowl.
CNG GL1 Small glazed ware bodysherds, compares with Central Gaulish glazed ware 1 NFC CNG GL1 See http://www.worcestershireceramics.org/hms/object.php?type=fabrics&id=107
Trier Tomber and Dore 1990 MOS BS. Folded beaker.
CC1 as OBA1 with brown slip rough cast ware
Folded and bag rough cast beakers.
CC2 RHC ware Orange with brown coat. Hard, smooth fabric with fairly smooth fracture. Sparse, ill-sorted fine quartz and ill sorted, medium to fine red brown inclusions
Rough cast beakers
CC4 Cream with brown CC. As CC2 but cream-buff. Hard, smooth fabric with fairly smooth fracture. Sparse, ill-sorted fine quartz and ill sorted, medium to fine red brown inclusions
Rough cast beakers
CC 1 appears to be a local fabric within the Cheshire plain whereas CC2 and 4 are likely to be traded wares. Symonds has discussed the difficulties of sourcing these wares without chemical and petrological examination (1990) and sources in the Argonne, Sinzig and Colchester are a possibility as well as other areas in Gaul.
CC7 orange with orange colour coat. As OAB1 with slightly darker orange colour coat. Local?
The CC fabrics were overwhelmingly used to make rough cast beakers and fabric CC1 compares very well with Wilderspool roughcast beakers. CC2 was probably an Argonne import and CC4 may also be an imported fabric. Only one sherd of CC7 was identified and this was a bodysherd, probably from a bowl.
KOL CC: Cologne colour-coated ware. Tomber and Dore 1990 KOL CC. Identified as likely to be from Cologne rather than Central Gaul.
NV Nene Valley colour coated ware Tomber and Dore 1990 LNV CC NV1 = white/cream paste, NV2= orange/brown paste. Sherds of an indented beaker and a rouletted beaker.
Fabric: Fine-textured, cream fabric, varying from soft to very hard, sometimes with pink core; self-coloured or with a self-coloured slip. Inclusions usually moderate, smallish, transparent and translucent white and pinkish quartz with sparse opaque orange-brown and rarely blackish fragments; rarely white clay pellets (or re-fired pottery). The range in fabric is, in fact, quite wide, from that with virtually no inclusions to fabrics with a fair quantity and fabrics with hard, ill-sorted black inclusions.
The trituration grit after AD130-140 consisted of hard red-brown and/or hard blackish material (probably re-fired pottery fragments), with only very rare quartz fragments. This grit is easy to recognize, but earlier mortaria usually have a more mixed trituration grit in which quartz and sandstone are normal components and some early second-century mortaria seem to have entirely quartz trituration grit. The Mancetter-Hartshill fabrics of AD100-130 are variable in texture and tempering. It is also at this period when there is difficulty in distinguishing Mancetter-Hartshill, Little Chester and Wroxeter. This can be complicated by the fact that a few of the same potters appear to have been active at both M-H and Little Chester, but there the evidence indicates that Little Chester never developed the extensive markets which became a norm for the Mancetter-Hartshill workshops.
MVER Verulamium region
Kilns are known at Bricket Wood, Brockley Hill, Radlett and Verulamium, but unless the specific kiln-site is known or suspected, the term ‘Verulamium region’ is used. (Tomber and Dore 1998, 154-5)
Fabric: a granular, usually greyish-cream fabric sometimes with pink core; often with cream to buff-cream slip; the fabric can be orange-brown but still granular. The texture was obtained by the presence or addition of a vast amount of well-sorted, small quartz inclusions, possibly with a little flint and very sparse red-brown material. The normal trituration grit consists mostly of flint with rare red-brown material and quartz.
MWROX Wroxeter white ware mortaria
Wroxeter (location of kilns unknown, but serving Wroxeter as their primary market). The floruit of these potteries fell within the period AD80-150/160, with a minimal later Antonine production which appears to have reached only sites in the West Midlands (Carlisle Mill mortaria, Hartley in prep).
Fabric: cream/white, usually hard, but can become soft in adverse conditions, often with a buff-cream slip. Inclusions: moderate to fairly frequent, ill-sorted quartz, red-brown and opaque black material. Trituration grit: mainly quartz, quartz sandstone, red-brown sandstone, black rock.
For a fuller description of the range produced in these potteries see James 2003, 245, Fabrics 8-12; also see Tomber and Dore 1998, 179.
Fabric: orange with sandy texture, sometimes with grey core; fairly soft with irregular fracture. MOWS1 same as MOAB1 but has white slip, often only traces surviving. Inclusions: moderate, well-sorted medium, subrounded quartz, and sparse medium, rounded grey/black.
Trituration grit: moderate, grits 1.5-5mm quartz (some polycrystalline), red/brown sandstone, igneous? grits and brown rounded grits.
MOWS2 Probably Wilderspool
Fabric: paler orange than MOWS 1 and 3, sandy fabric, fairly soft with irregular fracture. White slip, often only traces surviving. Inclusions: moderate, well-sorted medium, subrounded quartz, and sparse medium, rounded grey/black inclusions.
Trituration grit: sparse on all examples. 1.5-2mm quartz, sandstone, red/brown rounded grits and grey stone grits.
MOWS8 Fine probably Wilderspool
Fabric: Powdery, fine-textured, orange-brown fabric with pink core and traces of cream slip. Inclusions: very moderate, sporadic ill-sorted, quartz with some black material. Trituration grit: small to medium, quartz, pale and red-brown sandstone, quartz sandstone and rare cream fragments (?clay pellets). As Manchester fabric 17 (Hartley and Leary 2007)
MOWS9 Cheshire Plain or Wroxeter
Bright orange with lighter core. Thick white slip. Soft and powdery. Inclusions: moderate, well-sorted fine to medium, subrounded quartz. Trituration grits: moderate polycrystalline quartz 1-2m, rare 5mm.
MOWS10 Cheshire Plain
Fabric: orange with grey core with white slip. Moderate medium, rounded quartz, buff clay pellets and brown ferric inclusions.
Trituration grits: abundant, 4-5mm quartz and red/brown sandstone and grey inclusions. The grits are rounded
MOAB Unknown source, probably Cheshire Plains
Medium sandy orange wares of uncertain source.
Fabric: orange, fairly soft. With Rhaetian red slip, usually extending over the flange and the internal cavity below the bead.
Inclusions: sparse, well-sorted fine, subrounded quartz, and sparse medium, rounded grey/black inclusions. Slightly micaceous.
Trituration grit: where surviving well, trituration grits are abundant 1.5-2mm quartz, sandstone, red/brown rounded grits and grey stone grits
M. GAL Northern France: Oise/Somme area mortarium. There is sufficient evidence in the mass of sherds, the presence of several stamps of C Iulius Priscus and some wasters to show that this fabric was being produced at Noyon in Oise, but other potteries producing a similar fabric also existed elsewhere in the Oise/Somme area of northern France (Hartley 1998, 201; see also Tomber and Dore 1998, 75-76).
Fabric: self-coloured, yellowish-cream fabric, sometimes with pink core; fabric softer, more powdery and more open in texture than Fabric 2. Inclusions: moderate, tiny to small, quartz, red-brown and black material. Trituration grit: usually flint, quartz with occasional red-brown. , none extant on this example
Dr 20 Dressel 20 one rim sherd. Martin-Kilcher 1987 no. 89 dated cAD 110-150
Gal AMP Gallic amphora types, Tomber and Dore 1997 GAL AM. Where identifiable these were from Narbonnensian Gauloise 4 amphorae.
AMP VER Verulamium amphora. Bodysherds are not always distinguishable from FLA4 flagons and the number of sherds are likely to be more than indicated. Tomber and Dore 1997 VER WH.
G Grog-tempered wares
G2 Hard pinkish buff with grey core. Bumpy feel and irregular fracture. Sparse medium quartz and sparse to moderate coarse grey, brown and white inclusions – grog?
Early pink grog type fabric. Jar bodysherds
G4 orange with grey core. Hard, slightly sandy feel. Sparse, medium, subrounded quartz and rare, coarse, rounded grey and buff clay pellets/grog.
G5 orange with grey core. Smooth with irregular fracture. Sparse, medium, subrounded quartz, ill-sorted, coarse to medium, rounded grog and rare black organics.
Large storage or narrow-necked jar
G2,G4 and G5 may all be variants of a single ware elated to early pink grogged ware from the south and west Midlands known around Towcester (Booth and Green 1989) and similar to wares at Metchley (Hancocks 2004 fabric 10 and 11, I am grateful to Jane Evans for help with these fabrics)
MALV Malvernian ware. Tomber and Dore 1997 MAL RE A. Small scraps only.
CT Shell-tempered wares
CTA1 buff with grey core. Hard, vesicular fabric with fairly smooth, soapy feel. Abundant fairly well-sorted medium platey vesicles and white inclusions (shell). Similar to fabric in Northamptonshire. Storage jar with squared bead rim.
CTA2 late shelly ware. CTA2OX were oxidised. Tomber and Dore 1997 HAR SH Harrold? Late shelly wares with triangular undercut rims and everted rims.
THE SAMIAN WARE
Margaret Ward, MA MIFA
Each sherd was catalogued on a Microsoft Access database. Full details of sherds and numbers of vessels, including weights and measurements of rims for EVES (Estimated Vessel Equivalents) were recorded and are stored in the archive.
The products of the samian industry were highly standardised, and their study and publication have developed along standardised lines. The standard terminology is employed here.
The abbreviations SG, CG and EG denote vessels which were produced in South Gaulish, Central Gaulish and East Gaulish workshops. For other abbreviations such as Cala Culip, Oswald, S & S, etc see the bibliography. Hartley and Dickinson’s numbering system for their forthcoming index of potters’ stamps on samian ware has been adopted, using Roman numerals in lower case following the potter’s name; Roman numerals in upper case denote the numbering system (usually of styles) employed in Stanfield and Simpson’s work (S & S) and followed by Rogers (1974 and 1999). Vessel types are generally Dragendorff’s form numbers unless otherwise stated; for other terminology, see Webster 1996.
A dish from Central Gaul, found in layer 1282, Trench 12
Date-ranges such as c AD 70-110 or c 120-200, have been given rather than the use of epochs (e.g. Flavian-Trajanic or Hadrianic-Antonine). These should not be thought more precise than the use of epochs. They are employed to facilitate computer analysis of the material. Tables and a histogram have been provided in order to summarise the forms, fabrics and date-ranges of the material according to numbers of vessels (see Tables 2, 4, 6). Although measurements for EVES were recorded, EVES have been so little employed in samian reports that comparisons would be impossible (see Willis 1998, 94). Here, maximum numbers of vessels are given as the estimation of minimum numbers is considered misleading, especially in the case of small fragments of the same date, origin and form. Willis (2005, 5.2.2) has noted that, although this method has a potential problem of multiple counting of sherds from the same vessel in more than one context, multiple counting should arise primarily amongst the plain wares, since most moulded bowls have distinctive decoration. At any rate, the provision of measurements for EVES in the archive should facilitate the integration of the samian ware into the pottery assemblage as a whole.
The samian assemblage is summarized first by phase; details of individual vessels are listed by trench and phase; finally, the assemblage is summarized in its entirety.
Click on the sections
Samian Vessels Summarised by Phase
A single vessel:
Tr 1 (183) One SG moulded bowl form 37, c AD 75-90 (Catalogue No 1)
A single sherd:
Tr 1 (144). One SG moulded bowl form 29 fragment, c AD 65/70-85 (Catalogue No 2)
Fig 1. Floating bar diagram showing date ranges of vessels in Phase 5u contexts
(click to enlarge)
|18R or 18/31R||1||1|
Fig 2. Table of samian forms found in Phase 5u contexts
Fig 3. Floating bar diagram showing date ranges of vessels in Phase 7 contexts
|29 or 37||1||1|
Fig 4. Table of samian forms found in Phase 7 contexts
Fig 5. Floating bar diagram showing date ranges of vessels in Phase 7u contexts
|18 or 18R||1||1|
Fig 6. Table of forms found in Phase 7u contexts
Fig 7. Floating bar diagram showing date ranges of vessels in Phase 8u contexts
|15/17 or 18||1||1|
Fig 8. Table of forms found in Phase 8u contexts
Fig 9. Floating bar diagram showing date ranges of vessels in Phase 9m contexts
|18 or 18R||1||1|
|18R or 18/31R||1||1|
|18/31R or 31R||3||3|
Fig 10. Table of forms found in Phase 9m contexts
A single sherd:
Tr 1 (108) One CG dish form 18/31R, c A D 120-160, burnt almost black. Weight 9 g
2 rimsherds, both 2% of the rim, in Tr 1 (117): SG moulded bowl form 37 c AD 70-110, weight 3g and an EG sherd of indeterminate form c AD 160-250 (Trier?), weight 4g
Fig 11. Floating bar diagram showing date ranges of vessels found in Phase 12 contexts
|18 or 18R||1||1|
|18/31 or 31||1||1|
Fig 12. Table of forms found in Phase 12 contexts
A single fragment:
Tr 8 (805) CG indeterminate form, c AD 120-200, a flake weighing less than 1 g
|18 or 18R||1||1|
|18 or 18/31||2||2|
|18R or 18/31R||1||1|
|18/31 or 18/31R||1||1|
|18/31 or 31||1||1|
|18/31R or 31R||4||4|
Fig 13. Table of forms; unstratified material from all areas (including Catalogue Nos 4, 8 and 9 above)
Detailed Catalogue of Selected Vessels
The individual vessels that are detailed below have been selected according to their intrinsic interest or significance to the site. Entries are listed in order of trench, phase and context, then by fabric, form and date. Amongst the moulded ware, figure-types as they appear on bowls are frequently smaller than Oswald’s illustrated types (see Dannell et al 1998, 71 and 87). Where this specific discrepancy occurs, it is not noted in the catalogue.
A single vessel:
1. South Gaulish moulded bowl form 37. S-shaped godroons (cf Dzwiza 2004, Abb 96. F4.3 at Pompeii) are set above a speckled boar (cf Nieto and Puig 2001, type Bc.8?) running over stalks. The basal wreath consisted of small but indistinct leaf-and-bud motifs. S-shaped godroons and animals running over stalks occur on a bowl form 37 at Cala Culip (Nieto and Puig 2001, 389 no 479) and a boar runs over stalks on other bowls there (ibidem, 404-405 nos 521-523). A date c AD 75-90 may be proposed for the Middlewich bowl. Two adjoining wallsherds, weight 24 g.
A single sherd:
2. South Gaulish moulded bowl form 29. A small fragment only from the beaded middle and lower zone with the edge only of a leaf, from a vessel produced in the period c AD 65-85 and most probably a Flavian product. Weight 2 g.
A single sherd:
3. Central Gaulish moulded bowl form 37. Ovolo above a guideline (usually said to be Rogers B52, but this bears greater similarities to B233; cf Rogers 1999, pl 89.8); below it, panels included a double medallion containing a smaller one (Rogers E17). All these motifs occur on a bowl from Corbridge (S & S pl 154.16), in the Pugnus-Secundus style. This “Secundus-ish” style is dated c AD 150-170 according to Rogers (1999, 206, 232) and c 150-180 according to the forthcoming Leeds index of potters’ stamps (the late Brian Hartley, pers comm). Rimsherd (2%), weight 14 g.
4. East Gaulish moulded bowl form 37. The decoration included, here, a large rosette (Ricken-Fischer O 37) in a plain medallion. This rosette was used at Rheinzabern by several potters from Ianus ii onwards. The general appearance of the sherd and it decorative composition may suggest a later potter such as Lupus (iv in the Leeds Index); see Ricken 1948, Taf 157.5-6. Lupus was an associate of Iulius and their association has been ascribed a date in the earlier-third century (c AD 210-235 for a piece in their style embedded in the late fort wall at Piercebridge; Ward 2008, D9, 15 no 2, Fig. D9.16 no. 1482008, forthcoming). Iulius (I) bowls occur in the Butzbach Steinkastell and at Pfünz as well as in a waster group at Rheinzabern, currently dated c 235-245 (Bittner 1986, 249-252 and in the second ‘shipment’ group at New Fresh Wharf, also dated c 235-245; see Bird 1986, 2.106). A date in the range c AD 200-240 should cover all the possibilities for the production date of this bowl. Weight 14 g.
None of the samian vessels represented could be dated firmly any later than the Hadrianic period.
5. South Gaulish moulded bowl form 37. A single sherd showing that distinctive ovolo with a long trident tip turned left which was used by a group of potters including Albanus iii, Amandus and Coii Bass[ Below, a pair of gladiators (Oswald type 1007 and 1008). The same gladiators occurred on a bowl from the Middlewich Faircloughs Homes site (Ward 2008, samian catalogue no 59), but that was produced earlier in the Flavian period and the gladiators on the Community Project site have degenerated. The main activity of the Albanus iii group of potters is considered to have continued from the 80s AD into the Trajanic period: c AD 85-110 perhaps. Weight 17 g.
6. Central Gaulish moulded bowl form 37 in an excellent ware. Above the basal line of the decoration lay a small leaf (Rogers H146) and a finely modelled mask (Oswald type 1329), used by the Lezoux potter Butrio. The same mask occurred on a bowl in the style of Butrio from the Faircloughs Homes site (Ward 2008, in print, samian catalogue no 75). c AD 120-145. Weight 2 g.
7. Central Gaulish moulded bowl form 37. Both sherds display the figure of Vulcan (Oswald 66) in panelling bordered by astragali (Rogers A9) infilled with tufts derived from the leaf or plume Rogers J178; broken at a cleat-type repair hole. This is the early style of Cinnamus or an associate working in his group in the period c AD 135-160; Vulcan is attested for Cerialis; cf S & S pl 164, Cerialis no 3; Simpson and Rogers 1969, 6 no 13, with the plume motifs. Two sherds: the rimsherd was unstratified in Tr 9; diameter 20 cm (8%), weight 43 g.
8. Central Gaulish moulded bowl form 37, from Les Martres-de-Veyre. Badly blurred ovolo Rogers B37 above coarse wavy-line border and an arcade containing the indistinct head of a figure. Style of Igocatus (X-4), c AD 100-120. Rimsherd of diameter 20 cm (8%). Weight 19 g.
9. Central Gaulish moulded bowl form 37, with smeared and botched decoration. The ovolo is Rogers B231 (Cinnamus’s so-called ‘small bowl’ ovolo), poorly moulded here, above panelling that included a large caryatid (Oswald type 1207 or 1207A) and an erotic scene (Oswald type H). This ovolo was used by various potters, including Cinnamus, Pugnus and the Large S Potter, potters who worked in the wide range c AD 125-180. This bowl looks likely to be Antonine and was most probably a product of Cinnamus’s firm in the period c AD 150-170. Weight 18 g.
10. Central Gaulish moulded bowl form 37. Slightly indistinct ovolo (Rogers B47) above panelling that included a leafy festoon (Rogers F16) and (now abraded) figures: a caryatid (probably Oswald 1199) is set between a very large figure that must have overlapped the ovolo, and the front figure of an erotic group (Oswald type B). The motifs indicate the work of Criciro, who was active in the wide range c A D 135-170 but this bowl looks likely to have been produced in the late-Hadrianic or early-Antonine period (ie before c 160). Three adjoining sherds, rim diameter 20 cm (12%), weight 36 g.
11. South Gaulish moulded bowl form 37. A blurred stag (Nieto and Puig 2001, type Bb.18 or Bb.19) reclines between stylized, Germanus-type trees (op cit, nos 321-322) in which sits a large, indistinct bird as on Hofmann 1988, pl 16.125, Banassac. The Middlewich bowl appears to be a product of La Graufesenque probably in the period c 75-90. Weight 16 g; A second sherd from Phase 9m (1217) included the footring which was worn from use; weight 63 g.
12. Central Gaulish moulded bowl form 37. The panelled decoration included a tripod (Rogers Q43), two small, crouching panthers (Oswald 1518 faces right) and the recurring figure of a small draped female (Oswald 939). The motifs point to the work of Cinnamus and Secundus; in either case the bowl was produced most probably in the period c AD 150-180. The footring is badly worn from use and an internal patch of wear probably represents intentional erasure of a graffito. The graffito had included a large cursive letter A that was incised in the lower wall/base but it has been partially erased.. Weight 81 g.
13. Central Gaulish beaker form 72 with overall ‘cut-glass’ decoration, produced in the second half of the second century. 4 fragments and a 5 rimsherd of diameter 7 cm (20%); weight 12 g.
14. South Gaulish indeterminate form. There is a small fragment of a basal stamp, C[ or O[ or ]O by a potter working at La Graufesenque within the range c AD 70-110, weight 4 g.
15. Central Gaulish moulded bowl form 37. Ovolo (Rogers B7, but with a detailed rosette-tip to the tongue, above indistinct scrolls (probably Rogers M10 and M11, see Romeuf 2000, 333 no 5 and, with ovolo B7, 334 no 7). Infilling motifs: small animals including goats Oswald 1836, Rogers 1999, R.4016; birds (Oswald 2279 and 2315A) and cupids (Oswald 405 and 424). The bifid wreath consisted of rams’ horns (Rogers G370, indistinct here. This represents the work of Potter X-13 at Les Martres-de-Veyre; c AD 110-125. An unusual bowl at the Faircloughs Homes site (Ward 2008, samian catalogue no 35) probably displays the same ovolo and that bowl probably also represented X-13 rather than the Potter of the Rosette as identified by Terrisse (1968, pl 19.371). Seven pieces, constituting the complete profile of the vessel, whose footring shows wear from use. Rim diameter 21 cm (81%), weight 577 g.
16. Central Gaulish moulded bowl form 37. A fragment of a large, winding scroll with a large leaf (Rogers H58); H58 was used by the potter Attianus, c AD 125-145. Weight 18 g.
17. South Gaulish indeterminate form, perhaps from the plain band of a moulded bowl form 37 and produced in the range c AD 70-110, but this is a mere fragment. It has been re-worked as a tiny counter of diameter 13mm; weight 1g.
18. Central Gaulish moulded bowl form 37, produced at some point in the range c AD 120-160. Rim of a very large bowl and an adjoining sherd: the plain band displays repair-work with round rivet-holes that retain their lead rivets; the exterior has been badly abraded and scored, perhaps accidentally, around the rivet-holes. Rim diameter 26 cm (12%), weight 55 g.
19. South Gaulish cup form 27, produced in the range c A D 70-110. This wallsherd appears to have been cut down between the vessels curves: there were tool-marks that had evidently been made in the fabric before natural erosion occurred. Weight 12 g.
20. Central Gaulish dish form 18/31, produced at Lezoux c AD 120-145/150. Two pieces, one the complete profile of the vessel and the other an adjoining chip from the foot. This is vessel has been badly battered, apparently during use. The basal stamp has been abraded, probably scrubbed, away but may have begun or ended O[ or ]O The standing surface of the footring has been worn away totally during use, as also the rim and the external junction of the wall and base. The internal and external surfaces of the vessel are also badly chipped, pitted and scratched. The fabric is fairly soft and, even allowing for explosion out of small particles, small marks made through the surface gloss indicate short, sharp stabs by a sharp tool and there are occasional, tiny circular puncture marks. Whatever its final function may have been, this dish has clearly been treated badly and it can hardly have finished its life as fine tableware, Rim diameter 17 cm (38%), weight 176 g.
Samian Catalogue Number 20: Central Gaulish Dish
The evidence of the other three vessels in context (1282) may be significant. They were:
21. South Gaulish indeterminate form, c AD 70-110. A small flake from the base or lower wall. Weight 2 g.
22. Central Gaulish dish form 18/31 c AD 120-150. The footring was worn from use and the fabric seems to have been slightly stained after breakage. Weight 43 g.
23. Central Gaulish flanged bowl form 38. Probably from les Martres-de-Veyre, but at any rate produced in the period c AD130-160. Rim and flange: both the top of the flange and the upper internal wall are scratched, possibly in use but this is not certain. Rim diameter 17cm (6 %), weight 87 g.
24. South Gaulish cup form Ritterling 8. This form is almost exclusively pre-Flavian and this vessel is most likely to have been produced in the range c AD 55-70. The footring was very worn from use. Weight 20 g.
25. South Gaulish dish form 15/17 or 18. The basal stamp reads OF·CEN This was a stamp of the potter, Censor i, who worked at La Graufesenque. Another of his stamps, die 3c, reading OFCEN (Polak 2000, pl. 7, C126) was found at the Fairclough Homes site, dated c AD 70-90 on form 18R. However, the item under discussion is more likely to represent Die 3b, reading OF·CEN and noted twice at Holt; see Dickinson in Ward 1998, 65 nos 6-7, where it was dated c AD 70-95. The footring, deeply grooved inside, was very worn from use; it again exhibits much scratching on top of the base, though this may have been accidental. It was also burnt. Weight 33 g.
26. South Gaulish cup form 27. The basal stamp is battered but reads perhaps IVL?·I with retrograde L? It is likely to represent a so-called ‘illiterate’ potter. The developed form of this cup with its heavy footring may suggest production in the period c AD 80-110. Complete profile of the vessel, whose footring was considerably worn in use. Rim diameter 14 cm (3%); weight 55 g.
27. Central Gaulish moulded bowl form 37 with a botched ovolo (Rogers B102) above figured panelling whose borders had a small rosette terminal. The main figure here is that of a triton, a sea-monster wielding what looks like a baseball bat here, was in fact a club (Oswald 19). B102 is recorded for Advocisus, the associated potters Priscus and Clemens, and Potter P-19; the triton was used by Priscus and Clemens and suggests their work at Lezoux in the period c AD 160-200. Rim of diameter 22 cm (7%), weight 32 g.
28. Central Gaulish dish form 18/31. Basal stamp DACO[MA]RI or DAGO[MA]RI by Dagomarus at Lezoux. This was one of those potters who moved from Les Martre-de-Veyre; another of his Lezoux stamps, Die 13a, was recorded in the Chester fortress at the Crook St 1973-4 excavations. c AD 120/125-140. The footring was very worn from use and there is a fragment only of a graffito ]N or M[ incised below the base within the foot . Weight 81 g.
29. Central Gaulish cup form 33, most probably produced in the range c AD 120-160. The external wall of this sherd displays a fragment of graffito, that may have been erased. Weight 11 g.
29a Central Gaulish moulded bowl form 37. The indistinct ovolo may well have been Rogers B144 rather than B143, above a horizontal astragaloid border A9 and panels including a small gladiator (Oswald 1059) in a single medallion and Victory (Oswald 819A). This probably represents the early style of the Cinnamus group; cf Simpson and Rogers 1969, 8 no 19, c AD 135-160. A rimsherd (3%), weight 17 g from the same bowl as a sherd in Phase 12 (1213), weighing 21 g.
30. Central Gaulish indeterminate form, produced at some point in the range c AD 120-200. A badly battered flake from a basal sherd which was re-worked as a disc of diameter approximately 45mm, worn around the circumference. Weight 4 g.
31. Central Gaulish moulded bowl form 37, produced at some point in the Antonine period (c AD 140-200). The heavy footring shows much wear from use on its standing surface. It was later hacked off from the main body of the vessel and shows wear not only inside the base but also below it inside the foot. This piece appears to have been re-used upside-down, presumably as a mixing-palette. Weight 69 g.
32. Central Gaulish moulded bowl form 37. Large gladiators (Oswald 1001 and 1002) and a small figure (S & S 150, fig 18.12), as on a bowl from Holt (Grimes 1930, fig 45.117; S & S pl 76.32), in the style of the Large S Potter. Another (repaired) bowl in the style of this potter was found at the Faircloughs Homes site (Ward 2008, samian catalogue no 37. c AD 120-145. Two sherds including the rim, diameter 19 cm (4 %), weight 53 g.
Summary of the Samian Ware
There were 400 sherds in this collection, representing a maximum of 321 vessels, 6.88 estimated vessel equivalents (EVES), weight 4369 g. It will be helpful to make some comparison with the samian ware recovered from previous excavations at the neighbouring Faircloughs Homes site (925 sherds from a maximum of 633 vessels, 27.66 EVES; weight 17.23 kg). The Community Dig collection was in reasonably good condition, comprising sherds weighing a good average of 11 g, though this was considerably lower than at the Faircloughs Homes site (19 g). At the Community excavation, there were far fewer near-complete vessels: only four compared with 21 at the latter; two of the four were SG products and none of the four was produced later than c AD 150. There was also a large proportion of indeterminate fragments (29%).
The maximum of 83 moulded bowls constituted 27% of the collection, considerably less than at the Faircloughs Homes site (39%). 65 of the bowls retained at least some fragment of decoration and there was one beaker with decoration of the ‘cut-glass’ variety (Catalogue No 13). There were only four potters’ stamps, 1.2% compared with 4.9% at Faircloughs; however, this figure does not relate to the status of the site, but is likely to relate rather to its chronology, if it is the case that more potters were stamping more pots at certain periods (see Ward forthcoming).
The evidence of the samian ware suggests that occupation in this part of Middlewich began in the later first century and continued at a high level well into the Antonine period. The extreme shortage of late second-century samian on this site is highly significant. All the evidence of the samian ware points to reduction in occupation before c 160. The presence of six EG vessels, and one specifically dated within the earlier third century in particular, may be taken to reflect activity in the area in the third century.
Table 1. Absolute values of samian wares by maximum vessel numbers, sherd weight and estimated vessel equivalents (EVES)
Table 2. Relative quantities of samian by maximum vessel count, estimated vessel equivalent (EVES) and weight
Table 3. Faircloughs site. Relative quantities of samian by maximum vessel count, estimated vessel equivalent (EVES) and weight
Origin and date
A maximum of 139 vessels, forming 43% of the collection, originated in South Gaul, 175 vessels (55%) originated in Central Gaul and 7 vessels (2%) were from East Gaul. These figures are summarized on Table 1. According to EVES, the proportions for SG, CG and EG wares were 28%, 71% and less than 1% (1.92, 4.92 and 0.04 EVES respectively). Sorted by weight, the proportions of 27%, 71% and 2% (1181 g, 3110 g and 78 g) are closer to those of EVES than of maximum vessel numbers. This discrepancy reflects at least partially the large proportion of indeterminate fragments in the collection; the combined evidence of EVES and weights may well indicate that numerous South Gaulish sherds belonged to the same vessel or vessels.
Unless stated, for reasons given elsewhere, quantification below is based on the maximum numbers of vessels represented on the site rather than EVES.
Table 4. Middlewich Community Dig: histogram of all samian vessels by half decade (maximum nos)
Table 5. Faircloughs Homes site: histogram of all samian vessels by half decade (maximum nos)
Evidence for 1st-century occupation
There were at least one or two vessels (eg Catalogue No 24) that were produced in the pre-Flavian era and were probably Neronian products of the period c AD 55-70; the one example of a pre-Flavian cup form (Ritterling 8) was most probably a Neronian product. A further four vessels (two of them fragments of moulded bowl form 29) were dated only loosely within the range c AD 65-85. Thus the possible pre-Flavian material must have ranged between 1 and 4% of the SG ware. Many more SG vessels, both plain and decorated, were not datable closely within the Flavian period. In contrast, at the Fairclough Homes sites much of the SG ware had been produced in the early-Flavian period and specifically before c AD 85/90 (compare the histograms summarizing all samian ware from both sites (Table 4-5). The samian was taken at Faircloughs to suggest a slightly later date for foundation than was indicated at the Millennium site in the fort at Carlisle. At Carlisle, the greater proportion of pre-Flavian material (c 4% of the SG wares) and many Neronian-Flavian products were considered consistent with a foundation date in the early 70s (Ward, unpublished report). Amongst the plain samian from this Buckley’s Field site, there were none of the dishes of form 18 or 18R displaying the pronounced external offset at the junction of wall and base that is recorded commonly on these forms in Neronian deposits (eg the fortress at Usk; Tyers 1993, 133). This feature on such dishes is thought to be diagnostic of Neronian date or of the very early 70s at latest; it was noted at the Faircloughs site, though not here.
At the Faircloughs site, too, the ratio of the earlier bowl form 29 to that of the typically Flavian form 37 was 1:10. At the Community site that ratio was 1:15. Recent research has suggested that the SG form was being produced until at least c 90. Felicity Wild (2002, 268) has argued for a date in the 70s or early 80s for parity of the two forms; however, Willis (2005, 18.104.22.168) has noted that, according to his database, parity between the two forms was reached specifically between AD 87 and AD 89 and, if correct, this would imply that the formation of the Middlewich material occurred later than AD 90. At Walton-le-dale, no precisely comparable data are available, but there was only one form 29 amongst 25.6 kg of samian ware (Wild 2002, 271) and at that site, foundation after c AD 90 was suggested. At any rate, the material under discussion appears in general to have been produced later than that on the Faircloughs site. Certainly, a higher proportion of form 29 would be expected if foundation of the Middlewich site occurred in the earlier-Flavian period and the main activity on this particular site appears to have begun in the later first century. .
The second century and later
The pronounced peak on Table 4 in the half-decade c120-125 owes much to the unusually large quantities of products from Les Martres-de-Veyre that are datable in the range c 100-125, combined with the bulk of Lezoux products that were dated in the Hadrianic and Hadrianic-Antonine periods. Bearing in mind that some of the Les Martres products dated c AD 100-125 will have been produced in the Hadrianic period, the evidence of the samian ware on this site nevertheless suggests that there was considerable activity in the vicinity during the Trajanic period.
Although, for whatever reason, there was a surprisingly small proportion of moulded bowls (17%) amongst the Les Martres products, the Les Martres ware as a whole constituted a very large proportion of the assemblage. There were 29 vessels, both plain and decorated, from the workshops that were operating there in the Trajanic-Hadrianic periods, including at least one of slightly later origin (probably contemporary with the potter Cettus who was active there in the period c AD 135-160). Thus, as much as 9% of the samian assemblage and 17% of the CG wares was produced at Les Martres, compared with only 4% of the samian ware as a whole (9% of the CG ware) at the Faircloughs site. Brenda Dickinson (2000, 204) commented that 8-10% is a fairly normal proportion of collections from on British sites. There appears therefore to have been considerable activity in Buckley’s Field in the Trajanic to early Hadrianic period.
|Trajanic||Les Martres||Igocatus (X-4)||1|
|Trajanic to early-Hadrianic||X-13||2|
|Large S Potter||1|
|Lezoux||Cinnamus early group||2|
|early- to mid-Antonine: c 150-170||Lezoux||Cinnamus standard style||1|
|c 150-180||Cinnamus or Secundus||1|
|mid- to late-Antonine||Priscus-Clemens||1|
|Attributable CG bowls: total||15|
|Earlier 3rd- c.||EG||Lupus iv (Rheinzabern)||1|
Table 6 CG and EG moulded bowls with decoration that was attributable to specific potters or groups (max nos)
There was a maximum of 83 moulded bowls, of which 66 had some part of the decoration surviving: 35 of the 41 CG bowls bore decoration, though most were mere fragments. Those CG bowls that could be attributed with some certainly to specific styles are listed on Table 6 above. Amongst the CG bowls from Lezoux, over a quarter of those attributable to specific potters’ styles were Hadrianic or Hadrianic to early-Antonine products. As at the Faircloughs site, there was one bowl in the style of Criciro and here, two were in the style of the early Cinnamus group. Following the dating of the Leeds index of potters’stamps, a date c AD 135-160 is given for this style (though Rogers 1999, 98 dated the Cerialis-Cinnamus partnership as early as c 135-145 and the ‘standard’ style as c 140-160+). One or two bowls represented the standard style of Cinnamus, dated here c 150-170 and 150-180, the latter representing the style of Cinnamus or Secundus; there was also one bowl in the Pugnus-Secundus style (again c 150-180).
One bowl, No 27, in the Priscus-Clemens style was dated firmly within the mid- to late-Antonine period (approximately 160-200). As at the Faircloughs site, the virtual absence of all other bowls of that period from this site would be compatible with a period of abandonment or inactivity in this area of Middlewich not long after the mid-second century; the same absence of later-Antonine bowls was noted also at Holt (Ward, 1998, 139). It is quite possible that this bowl, as well as the few later-Antonine plain vessels that were also present on this Middlewich site could have been in use still in the third century.
|15/17 or 18||2||2|
|18 or 18/31||2||2|
|18 or 18R||6||1||7|
|18R or 18/31R||4||4|
|18/31 or 31||4||4|
|18/31 or 18/31R||2||2|
|18/31R or 31R||7||7|
|29 or 37||1||1|
|30 or 37||1||1|
Table 7. Total of vessel forms by fabric (maximum nos of vessels)
Amongst the plainwares, as at the Faircloughs site, the dish forms 18/31 and 18/31R that were Hadrianic-early Antonine products outnumbered greatly the Antonine forms 31 and 31R. Form 31R and its East Gaulish equivalents were the deep dish variety that developed after c 160 and are usually found in profusion on sites under steady occupation in the later second century. At the Community excavation, these developed forms constituted less than 2% of the total. Also, of the ten examples of the flanged bowl form 38, whose popularity reached a peak in the second half of the 2nd century, half of these may have been Hadrianic products and none of the remainder could be said with any certainty to have been produced after c 150.
Form 27 was the most popular of the cup forms made in South Gaul in the first century, but it lost popularity in favour of form 33 in the second century and went out of production by c AD 160. At both the King St excavations, there were more than twice as many form 27s as 33s. At the Faircloughs site, amongst the Central Gaulish wares, forms 27 and 33 were more or less equal in number, but in contrast Community Dig finds included 15 CG form 27s, but only 8 form 33s. It is conceivable that this reflects the small size of the sample, or it may signify some quirk in the supply to this site; however, it could suggest that activity on this site was reduced rather earlier than at the Faircloughs site. On the other hand, the fall-off at the latter site c 160 seems even more marked according to Table 5 than does the histogram based on the Community Dig finds (Table 4).
At any rate, at the Community Dig there were very few vessels of any form that were manufactured in the later-2nd century: there was one CG beaker with ‘cut-glass’ decoration, only two sherds from dishes of the late-second century form 79 (produced after c 160) and none of the mortarium forms that were produced after c 170 at the earliest. The presence of samian mortaria and particularly the popular lion-headed form 45 is normally a good indicator of late-Antonine activity. The virtual absence of late second-century samian, stamped, decorated or plain, is highly significant and all the evidence of the samian ware appears to point to reduction in activity on the site before c 160.
Early 2nd-century evidence from other north-western sites, and specifically those ‘industrial’ sites with varying degrees of military involvement may be considered, too (see Ward, forthcoming). Samian collections from Holt, Prestatyn, Holditch, Wigan and a very small group from Ochre Brook, Tarbock were used to produce Table 8.
Table 8. Other industrial sites with varying degrees of military involvement: all samian vessels, by half decade (maximum nos)
At the legionary works depôt at Holt, there was an abundance of Trajanic-Hadrianic samian ware, but the stamps indicated an ensuing reduction in activity there also (Ward 1998, 141, fig 8). At Holditch, none of the samian ware from recent excavation needs to have been produced after the middle of the second century (contra the editorial amendment in Ward 2007, 127). The chief periods of activity also ran out around the middle of the 2nd century at two more sites on the line of King St, not included on Table 8: the probably military depôt at Walton-le-dale and industrial site at Wilderspool (see Ward 1998a, 62). The evidence from Prestatyn and recent excavations at Wigan also appear to support this dating for sites where military presence is strongly suspected (Ward 1989 and Ward, unpublished samian report for the Grand Arcade site, Wigan). That there were changes afoot in this period at militarily linked establishments seems confirmed at the auxiliary tilery at Quernmore. The present sample from the Community Dig at Middlewich supports the suggestion that the area of the Faircloughs saw a reduction or change in activity in or very close to the early-Antonine period, with few vessels having been manufactured after c AD 160; much the same pattern is visible at other industrial sites with military involvement (cf Tables 4, 5 and 8). Certainly, the evidence of the samian ware can be taken to indicate little activity on the Community site at Buckley’s Field in the late second century
The general scarcity of EG wares on the western side of Britain is well known. The proportion of EG wares in the Community Dig collection (2%) is very low for a western site, even, when compared with, for example, the Faircloughs material (4%) or that from sites with a high level of third-century occupation such as the ‘mansio’ in Castle St, Chester (6%); see Bulmer 1980, 21; 1993, 16 (cf the much higher proportion from the north-eastern site at Piercebridge: 17%; Ward forthcoming, 2008). In this collection, there were no products of the Argonne factories of the Hadrianic- Antonine period as have been recorded at such sites as Lancaster, Ribchester, Chester and Carlisle. However, as at Holt (Ward 1998 and 1998a), the presence of not only the few late CG vessels (eg Catalogue No 27), but also EG products from Rheinzabern and/or Trier in this small sample could support renewed activity in the third century: in all, six CG and six EG vessels were produced after c AD 160. Of the later 2nd- or 3rd-century products from Rheinzabern and Trier at Middlewich, one of the Rheinzabern products was a moulded bowl in the style of Lupus iv, who was working in the earlier third century, probably within the range c AD 200-240; see No 4. This was the latest identifiable samian ware on this site (found unstratified in Trench 1). As noted above, this bowl along with a few other late CG and EG sherds could reflect third-century activity in the area.
Condition: burning, wear, repair and re-use
Samian ware can provide much information about a site and its occupation. The significance of this information has been acknowledged for many years (Bulmer 1980a, 89; Marsh 1981, 227f; Ward 1989; Willis 1998, 121). Re-working or reuse of samian ware has been noted at many sites (see Ward 1993, 19ff). In this collection, 11% of the total showed evidence of wear, repair or secondary use; 1.6% of these had been re-worked or re-used and 0.9% had been repaired. Most of these repaired, re-used or re-worked vessels had been produced in the second-century and may well have seen considerable use. Samian ware must have been a relatively valuable commodity and, where possible, its life will have been extended in use, whether by cutting down and smoothing off, re-working or repairing of accidentally broken pieces
Marks of ownership also point to the value of samian vessels to their owners (see Tomlin 2002, 504). At least three vessels displayed graffiti or erasure of graffiti (implying second ownership; see Nos 12, 29). One in Trench 12 Phase 8 (No 12) was on a bowl manufactured in the range c 150-180, the other two, produced in the earlier second century, were a (stamped) dish of Hadrianic origin (No 28) and a cup produced in the Hadrianic-early Antonine period (No 29), both found in Trench 12, Phase 9m (1217). The proportion formed by these graffiti (0.93%), although in a small sample, may be compared with 0.16% of the total at the Faircloughs site: this comprised a single graffito (on a dish stamped in the period c 150-175).
In Trench 12 Periods 8 and 12, there was a tiny counter, a large disc, a footring re-used upside down, a cut-down cup and at least one vessel that had seen, at the least, hard use (No 20). There were no examples of spindle-whorls, an item that is thought typical of the late-Roman period and particularly the fourth century (Cool 2000, 53).
There were three repaired vessels in Trenches 9 (Period 7) and 12 (again in Period 8). These constituted 0.9% of the total, compared with as much as 3% of the Faircloughs site assemblage. These figures may be compared against 0.3% at the Millennium site in Carlisle fort, 0.7% at Prestatyn, 1.4% at Piercebridge, 1.6% at Mitchells Brewery in the Lancaster vicus, and 2.8% at Worcester Magistrates Court (see Ward 1989, 154; 1993, 21 and 2007, forthcoming , and Ward unpublished reports). Willis (2005, 11.5 Table 73) found that the average for nine of his listed military sites was 2%. Certainly, repairwork on samian ware has been noted at other sites known to have had metal-working or industrial activities, with military or possibly military involvement (see Holt, Ward 1998a, 52 and, on Heronbridge, 73; Prestatyn, Ward 1989, 154). At Piercebridge, there was the workshop of a metalworker who may have taken on the repair of broken samian vessels, in the northern vicus (Ward 1993, 19f and 2008). In this small sample from the Community Dig, two repairs were of the rivet variety and one used cleats. However, it is difficult to judge the success of repairwork, particularly when the vessel had finally broken through the repair and lacked its rivets or cleats.
In addition to the re-worked or repaired sherds recorded above, Trench 12 (1267) contained a small fragment from a Hadrianic-early Antonine CG product that displayed a sharply worn corner and scoured and scratched edges. This could possibly have been used as a scraper, but, as in the case of possible examples at the Faircloughs site, its secondary use was only a tentative suggestion (cf Ward 2008).
7% of the material was burnt. This was only a little lower than at the Faircloughs site (10%), where, unlike in the present collection, several pieces appeared to have suffered unusually from smoke (rather than burning or sooting).
The evidence of moulded bowls on the site may be considered. The products of Les Martres-de-Veyre always include a large proportion of these decorated bowls (31% at Carlisle Millennium site; Ward, unpublished report); see Darling 1998, 176. At the Faircloughs site, an exceptionally large proportion of the products of Les Martres comprised moulded bowls (48%) and on that basis it was proposed that moulded bowls were highly favoured in the vicinity of this Middlewich site in the early 2nd century (Ward 2008). However, at the Community Dig site, for whatever reason, the proportion was surprisingly small at only 17%.
In contrast, we have seen above that the overall total of 83 moulded bowls constituted 26% of the whole collection compared with 37% at the Faircloughs site (see Fig 3). If we discount the many fragments of indeterminate form from the total, then the moulded bowls from the Community Dig could have comprised as much as 41% by EVES, though (for whatever reason) considerably their proportion was considerably smaller according to the maximum numbers of vessels: 35% (see Tables 1-2).
Thus, the figure of 41% comprising moulded bowls by EVES is very close to that at the Faircloughs site (43%). Willis (2005, Table 42), relying on the ‘number of vessels represented,’ noted that the average percentage of decorated samian bowls on thirty military sites was 30% and in extra-mural occupation at military sites 35%. In contrast, the proportion at exclusively civil sites was much lower, at 17-26%. It is unclear whether Willis included all indeterminate fragments in his totals, but presuming that he did, even so the Middlewich proportions would be high for an exclusively civil site. The assemblage may be taken to reflect the military presence in the area, whether or not there was specifically military involvement at Buckley’s Field. The moulded bowl proportion according to maximum numbers represented is clearly much higher than that of 25% noted in the Carlisle Millennium assemblage (Ward, unpublished samian report). So too, although it is difficult to compare collections quantified differently, moulded bowls appear more frequent at Middlewich than at Ribchester (30%) or indeed than the average as quoted there (10%; see Dickinson 2000, 204). Ruth Leary concludes concerning the pottery on this site that the level of decorated samian does indeed indicate that the settlement had a military-type assemblage, but that the characteristics of the group in terms of other luxury goods and table ware: kitchen ware ratios suggest the area was of fairly low status. It may be noted that Willis (2005, Table 45) has compiled data for types of samian vessel represented at sites of differing status and it is striking that the proportions of bowls, cups and dishes on the Middlewich site are closer to those recorded from extra-mural occupation sites at Roman military installations than they are to those from the military installations themselves (op cit, 8.2.3 Chart 14, cf 8.2.2 Chart 13).
Table 9 The relative frequency of samian vessel types/functional categories, discounting indeterminate sherds (maximum vessel nos)
Table 10. The relative frequency of samian vessel types/functional categories, discounting indeterminate sherds (by EVES)
Table 11. Faircloughs site: relative proportion of vessel types (maximum vessel nos)
Although this was a relatively small sample, it may be noted that here there were none of the inkwells that were recorded at the Faircloughs site. Writing of graffiti on samian ware itself is taken to be evidence of a high status site (Evans 1987, 202). The proportion of 0.93% of the samian total formed by graffiti on this Community Dig site is relatively high. It may be compared with the figure of 0.16% at Faircloughs, 0.5% at Piercebridge and also at the large Mitchells Brewery site in the Lancaster vicus, or with 1.25% at the Millennium site in Carlisle fort (Ward, reports all unpublished or forthcoming). It is difficult to compare other, published data, since the proportions published are often based on all graffiti on all manner of ceramics. However, at Ribchester (Dickinson 2000), it appears that 26 graffiti comprised 0.86% of the samian ware. At the Faircloughs site, the present writer proposed that the proportion of 0.16% might reflect a low level of literacy amongst the average samian-owner in the vicinity and that this in turn could relate to the special, industrial function of the site. Clearly, there was greater evidence of graffiti in the present, smaller sample. There were still no obvious examples of the ubiquitous practices (not requiring literacy) of scoring bases with an X (Tomlin 2002, 504) or the widespread habit of nicking the standing surface of footrings.
As seen above, the samian ware on this site was clearly valued enough to warrant repair in order to extend life in use even though such vessels were probably abundantly available at the time of their repair (none was necessarily produced later than the early-Antonine period). Willis found that the proportion of repaired decorated samian vessels from rural sites is markedly lower than at military sites and smaller civil centres (Willis 2005, Table 75), though he admitted that rural sites had relatively low proportions of decorated ware anyway. Certainly Middlewich had high proportions of moulded bowls and this is no doubt reflected in the proportions of moulded bowls that were repaired. It would, however, not be surprising if the decoration made the vessel more highly prized and valued enough to make its repair more worthwhile. It may be that a craftsman’s services became necessary in order to extend the life of pots at a time when supplies perhaps ran low – during mass-movement of troops to Scotland in the early-Antonine period, perhaps.
The writer wishes to thank Ruth Leary for her help and for sharing her expertise throughout this project.
Bibliography for the samian report
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Dannell, G B, Dickinson B, and Vernhet, A 1998 Ovolos on Dragendorff form 30 from the collections of Frédéric Hermet and Dieudonné Rey, in Bird 1998, 69-109
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A total of 28 sherds of medieval pottery weighing 225g and 19 sherds of post-medieval pottery weighing 243g were recovered from the excavation. No material which could be ascribed to the Saxon period was identified in the assemblage.
Of the medieval material, three body sherds from vessels in an oxidised sandy ware (from storage vessels) were recovered from the initial cleaning of Trench 5, the remaining 22 sherds were recovered from contexts in Trench 12. The majority of this material was in either an oxidised or white ware with vestiges of green glaze, however the condition was very poor suggesting that this material had been worked into the soil through a later processes such as manuring.
The provenance of the medieval material in Trench 12 is interesting. One tiny undiagnostic sherd was recovered from Phase 8 gully fill 1215 at the northern end of the trench, and four small sherds from Phase 8 ditch fill 1216. The presence of this material within securely stratified Roman deposits would suggest either excavator error, or that the sherds have fallen into the features from the sides of the trench. A further eight sherds were recorded in contexts 1217 and 1271, a midden deposit and an unsealed buried soil respectively; in this case it is likely that the sherds were worked into the upper surface of these deposits much later than their initial formation. Finally twelve sherds were recovered from cleaning layers 1212 and 1218 following the initial machining of the trench, and are likely to have been residual from the overlying soil. Again, the majority of these pieces were undiagnostic, though three had incised horizontal bands of decoration, and a single rim sherd from a beaded-rim storage jar in a coarse oxidised fabric was recovered from layer 1212.
The post-medieval pottery comprises small abraded sherds, again probably worked into the soil through manuring. Fabrics represented include porcelaineous pottery, dark glazed earthenware, stoneware and slipware of 17th-19th century date. A single sherd was recovered from the subsoil in Trench 1 (101) and a second from cleaning layer (102), two sherds from Phase 7 fill 402 in Trench 4, two sherds from the subsoil in Trench 8 and eight sherds from buried soil 906 in Trench 9. Two further sherds were found in cleaning layer 1214 and ditch fill 1216 in Trench 12. As with the medieval material, it seems probable that sherds recorded in stratified contexts have been assigned in error, or were worked into the soil during machining.
All of the post-Roman pottery is typical of domestic waste, with fragments of storage vessels, bowls, plates and cups present. The material is of little interpretive value for the site.
A total of nine fragments of Roman window glass weighing 88g were recovered from contexts in Trenches 9 and 12. In Trench 9 one fragment was found within buried soil 906, while a second was recovered from fill 908 in pit 909. This latter deposit has been securely dated to the second half of the second century.
Three fragments were recovered from cleaning layers 1212, 1213 and 1218, so are not strongly provenanced. One fragment was found in buried soil 1219, which continued to develop and accumulate until the early third century, and a second in Phase 7 pit 1229 which was backfilled around the middle of the second century. Finally two fragments were recovered from Phase 8 contexts 1242 and 1281; the fill of a pit in the southwest corner of the trench and a gravel pad in the centre of the trench respectively.
All of the fragments were cast glass, meaning that the molten glass had been poured into a shallow mould rather than blown. This type of window glass became increasingly common on military sites from the middle of the 1st century onwards.
The small sample size and scattered spatial distribution precludes meaningful interpretation of this group, however the presence of the material is indicative that at least one building with glazed windows stood at, or near to, the site during the early-mid 2nd century AD.
Roman window glass recovered during the excavation
Thirty nine fragments of Roman vessel glass were recovered from Trenches 1, 4, 8, 9 and 12. The majority were body sherds from thick-walled square-blown storage vessels, though thin sherds of beaker glass were also present. The fragments are quantified in the table below; the date range given is for the pottery assemblage from each context.
|Ctxt||Tr||Phase||Date range||No. Sherds||Notes|
|141||1||8||120-200 AD||1||Thin beaker body sherd. Slight yellow colouration|
|402||4||7||Late 2nd- 3rd C||1||Beaker bodysherd- blue/green colour|
|407||4||7||Early 2nd C||2||2 beaker bodysherds, blue/green colour|
|409||4||7||Early 2nd C||2||2 fragments of thick-walled storage vessel- blue/green|
|410||4||7||120-160 AD||1||Single fragment from thin walled vessel, blue/green|
|411||4||7||Early 2nd C||1||Single fragment from thin walled vessel, blue/green|
|418||4||7||Mid-late 2nd||2||2 fragments of thick-walled storage vessel- blue/green|
|419||4||7||70-140 AD||1||Single fragment of thin-walled vessel in faint yellow glass, horizontal banded (facet-cut) decoration around circumference|
|U/S||8||–||–||1||Thin vessel fragment- dark green/yellow colouration|
|802||8||13||PM||1||Residual sherd of thin walled vessel- dark green/yellow glass|
|912||9||7||70-110 AD||1||Base of square, mould-blown storage vessel in blue/green glass|
|1202||12||12||2nd-3rd C||1||Single small sherd of blue/green storage vessel wall|
|1204||12||12||Mid-2nd-3rd C||2||Body sherd and fragment of handle from blue/green thick walled storage jar|
|1206||12||8||Mid-late 2ndwith intrusive 3rd and 4th C||4||1 body sherd of thick-walled storage vessel in blue/green glass, very abraded. 1 sherd from shoulder of thin walled vessel in yellow glass, 2 tiny undiagnostic fragments|
|1210||12||8||160-200 AD||2||2 body sherds from thin-walled vessels in colourless and yellow glass|
|1212||12||12||Mid-2nd-3rd C||1||1 small body sherd from blue/green thick-walled vessel|
|1216||12||8||Mid-late 2ndC||1||1 small fragment of thin yellow glass vessel|
|1217||12||9||Late 2nd – 3rdC||9||6 body sherds from thick walled blue/green storage vessels, 2 body sherds from thin walled colourless vessels, shoulder and rim of a blue/green prismatic storage jar with folded lip|
|1223||12||8||135-60 AD||1||Single very small fragment from a thick-walled blue-green storage vessel|
|1245||12||8||130-160||1||Shoulder and handle of a thick walled blue/green cylindrical storage vessel. Elongated bubble running through extruded handle|
|1265||12||8||Mid -2nd(inferred)||1||Body sherd from indented beaker in colourless glass|
|1266||12||8||Mid-late 2ndC||1||Single fragment from the neck and handle of a conical long-necked jug in yellow/green glass|
|1281||12||8||140-200 AD||1||Single fragment from body of thick-walled blue/green storage vessel|
The assemblage was dominated by thick-walled storage vessels with blue/green colouration (18 fragments), and thin walled vessels in either blue/green, yellow or colourless glass (16 fragments). Of the latter, most were undiagnostic body sherds. Four fragments of the storage jars/bottles were identifiable as either base (one fragment from the base of a prismatic, mould-blown jar) or shoulder/handle and rim (three fragments, one from a cylindrical jar). A single piece is identifiable as part of the neck and handle of a conical long-necked jug in a yellow/green glass (1266).
Although the fragments were small, two of the cup/beaker sherds from Trench 4 had identifiable decoration, one displaying an indent, another with horizontal facet-cut lines running around the circumference of the vessel (419).
Wheel-cut vessel glass, context 419
Although not closely datable, the majority of the glass can be ascribed to activity in Phases 7 and 8, broadly falling into the date range 120-200AD. The lack of polychrome glass popular in the first century can be taken as an indicator that there was limited activity prior to the early second century, while the colours present, including blue/green, yellow and colourless, most likely denote a date range in the 2nd – 3rd century.. The material from Trench 8 was residual, while in Trench 12 four fragments were recovered from cleaning layers which are not securely stratified. The largest concentration of glass in Trench 12 (nine fragments) was found in midden deposit 1217, which extends from the late 2nd century through to the 3rd. It is possible that some of the glass found in this layer is residual; pottery from the same deposit is dated between the late 1st and 3rd centuries, suggesting that earlier material was reworked into the layer from elsewhere.
Single sherds from Trenches 1 and 9 do not warrant comment, though the low number of recovered fragments in these trenches is unsurprising, given the small excavated areas. Similarly, the residual material from Trench 8 cannot provide meaningful information.
The majority of the glass (25 fragments out of the total 39) was found in Trench 12. Thirteen of these fragments were not securely stratified, with material recovered from cleaning layers 1202, 1204 and 1212, and midden deposit 1217. Twelve glass fragments were securely stratified, the contexts represented falling into three distinct zones; the backfill of ditch 1221 (fills 1223 and 1216), the backfill of pit 1247 (fills 1210 and 1245) and spreads of gravel and briquetage to the north of clay-floored building 1208 (contexts 1206, 1265, 1266 and 1281). All of these contexts can be equated with the disuse of the building in Trench 12 and an apparent shift in focus of the settlement towards the east in the latter half of the second century.
Roman Dress Accessories
Five brooches were recovered during the excavation. These fall into three categories; trumpet brooches, Colchester derived brooches and penannular brooches.
Three trumpet brooches were recovered from contexts in Trenches 4 and 12. These are summarised below:
416: 59mm long, the head of the bow is large with two circular recesses on either side. The upper body tapers to a central waist moulding which has suffered some corrosion, though a portion of the surviving surface suggests that this was decorated with an interlacing waved line. The lower body tapers gradually to a moulding with rebated collar which may have housed inlaid decoration (now missing). The front of the lower body is decorated with a symmetrical pattern of weaving lines, possibly in a pale yellow enamel, though the condition is now so poor that the surface is difficult to distinguish. The lower half of the pin survives, corroded into the clasp.
1202: 54mm long, the head of the bow is large and flattish, with a rebated groove running down the centre to a large central waist knob moulding between two knurled collars. The lower part of the body is unadorned, and tapers to a circular foot which is hollow, indicating that an inlaid decoration is missing. The pin has gone, though a portion of the spring is corroded to the head.
1203: 27mm long, only the head of the bow survives, though this is broken in two. The head is small and tapers rapidly to a narrow upper body decorated with two parallel grooves. Towards the waist of the brooch the body starts to taper out again, but is broken off before reaching that point. Part of the spring survives corroded onto the head.
A single Colchester-derived ‘dolphin’ brooch was recovered from the spoil in Trench 12 through metal detecting. Though unstratified, this brooch is in good condition.
U/S: 40mm long, the wings are short with round cross-section, perforated at either end with a single small hole to receive the spring mechanism (now missing). The bow is humped over the wings and tapers gradually to the foot which ends in a single knob. The upper half of the bow is decorated with two knurled ridges either side of a recessed central groove, with two parallel outer grooves on either side of the body.
908: A single iron penannular brooch was recovered from context 908 in Trench 9. Though heavily corroded, the form can be distinguished. The diameter is 42mm, and the pin corroded to one of two ball-shaped terminals. The corrosion is too severe to determine the cross sectional shape of the brooch or to identify any surface decoration.
Three decorative glass beads were recovered from Trenches 4 and 12.
The first of these is a faiance melon bead from context 419 in Trench 4. 28mm in diameter, this has lost its original vitrified outer surface, though the colour and finish is still visible running through the bead. These beads were common in the 1st and 2nd centuries, tending towards the 1st century on military sites.
A small melon bead of dark-blue glass, 16mm in diameter, was recovered from ditch 1215 in Trench 12. Hoffmann notes that such beads are less common than frit melon beads, but that both types are common on 1st-early 2nd century military sites (particularly associated with horse harness), with reduced numbers in the later second century onwards. (www.theromangaskproject.org.uk/Pages/Introduction/RomanGlass.html; accessed 08.05.08).
The third bead was a small, faceted cylindrical bead in green glass recovered from midden deposit 1217 in Trench 12, measuring 11mm long x 6mm wide. A parallel for this bead was found at Segontium Roman Fort (Allen 1993, 219; no. 53, SF864) from a Period 9 context (early-mid 4th century). Although such types cannot be closely dated, Allen notes that most of the beads on that site were found in late contexts with the exception of the melon beads.
The head and upper shaft of a copper alloy hair pin was recovered from context 912 in Trench 9 (Phase 7). The pin head is globular in form and 10mm in diameter. The shaft of the pin is broken off 11mm below the head.
Hair pin, 912
Twelve coins were recovered during the excavations at Buckley’s Field, although only two – both Roman – came from stratified deposits. Eight of the coins were Roman, two were of the reign of Charles I, and two copper coins were of eighteenth or nineteenth century origin. In the following list, the coins will be described by trench:
TRENCH 1 (1 coin)
1. Æ Magnentius (U/S); broken, but little worn LRBC II.49 AD 350-1
D N MAGNENTIVS P F AVG
FELICITAS REIPVBLICE TRP
TRENCH 8 (2 coins)
2. Æ Constantine II (U/S); chipped on edges, but little worn
as LRBC I.49 AD 330-5
[CONSTANTINVS] IVN NOB C
GLORIA EXERCITVS (2 standards)
3. AR Half-groat, Charles I (U/S); very worn c. 1644
TRENCH 9 (3 coins)
4. Æ As, Domitian as Caesar (under Vespasian) (906);
corroded, but not very worn AD 72-9
CAESAR AVG F DOMITIANVS C[OS ….] S C (Illegible)
5. Æ Dupondius, Vespasian (U/S): badly corroded AD 69-79
6. Æ Halfpenny (U/S) 18th/19th century
TRENCH 12 (6 coins)
7. Æ As, Nero (U/S); very corroded AD 62-8
8. Æ Dupondius, Vespasian (1213); corroded, but not very worn AD 69-79
9. AR Denarius, Hadrian (U/S); little worn RIC 2 (Hadrian), 118 AD 119-22
IMP CAESAR TRAIANVS HADRIANVS AVG
P M TR P COS III CONCORD (in exergue)
10 AR Denarius, Marcus Aurelius (U/S); moderately worn
RIC 3 (Marcus), 436 AD 161+
CONSECRATIO Funeral Pyre
11. AR Half-groat, Charles I (U/S); very worn c. 1644
12. Æ One Penny (U/S); very corroded early-nineteenth century
It is clearly not possible to draw far-reaching conclusions regarding so small a coin-sample; however, it may be said that eight coins represent a significant number from a relatively small area. The appearance of a coin of Nero and three Flavian coins serve to strengthen the impression that military activity came to the Middlewich-area at an early point in the Flavian period, and that activity in general remained at a significant level from that point into the second and third centuries. Although there were two fourth-century coins in the present sample, we continue to see that coins from the mid-third century onwards remain relatively poorly represented, although it should be noted that the present excavations did produce the latest coin yet recorded from Middlewich – the issue of Magnentius (AD 351-3). Future research will no doubt find a reason for the continuing paucity of late coins, although it may suggest that the principal focal-points of activity shifted within the area in the later years. Further, the complete absence of any coins later than AD 351 still requires an explanation.
The chronological distribution of the 126 Roman coins now recorded from Middlewich may be shown thus:
THE VERTEBRATE REMAINS
The vertebrate assemblage from this site was mainly concentrated in ditch and pit fills and deposits of early 2nd to early 3rd century AD date. Identified vertebrate material consisted mainly of cattle, pig and caprovid remains (no bird bones or wild mammal species were noted) but detailed analysis was hindered by the poor preservation. From the identified remains, the relative abundance of the different species suggested that cattle were prevalent, with pig forming a quarter of the identified assemblage and caprovids being of less importance. Despite the limitations of the assemblage, it does seem to fit well with other vertebrate material of this date, particularly from similar sites which have close associations with military facilities. A predominance of cattle is characteristic of many Roman assemblages and shows a marked change from the dietary preference for lamb and mutton typically suggested by Late Iron Age assemblages.
For the vertebrate remains, data were recorded electronically directly into a series of tables using a purpose-built input system and Paradox software. For each context, subjective records were made of the state of preservation, colour of the fragments, and the appearance of broken surfaces (‘angularity’). Additionally, semi-quantitative information was recorded concerning fragment size, dog gnawing, burning, butchery and fresh breakage.
Identifications to species or species group were carried out using the PRS modern comparative reference collection. Selected elements were recorded using the diagnostic zones method described by Dobney and Rielly (1988), whilst remaining elements which could be identified to species were only counted. Other fragments (classified as ‘unidentified’) were, where possible, grouped into categories: large mammal (assumed to be horse, cow or large cervid), medium-sized mammal (assumed to be sheep, pig or small cervid) and totally unidentified.
Caprovid tooth wear stages were recorded using those outlined by Payne (1973; 1987), and those for cattle and pig followed the scheme set out by Grant (1982). Cattle, caprovid and pig mandibles and isolated teeth were assigned to the general age categories outlined by O’Connor (1989) and Payne (1973; 1987). Where present, epiphyseal fusion data was recorded. Mammal bones were described as ‘juvenile’ if the epiphyses were unfused and the associated shaft fragment appeared spongy and porous. Measurements followed von den Driesch (1976) unless otherwise specified.
In total, 1280 fragments of bone were recovered from four of the excavated trenches. The largest quantity of material came from the area excavation of Trench 12, and ditch 1221 in particular. Poor preservation was recorded throughout and the material was extremely fragmented. Tables 1 and 2 present summary information for the vertebrate assemblage by context and by trench.
Click for Table 1
Click for Table 2
Bone, amounting to 145 fragments, was recovered from 11 deposits in Trench 1. These deposits included pit and ditch fills, surfaces and layers, which dated from throughout the Roman period. Many of these features were associated with the ditches, surfaces (1st century AD) and subsequent realignment (2nd century AD) of a road. The bones were extremely poorly preserved, which may have resulted from their secondary use as part of the hard core material forming and stabilising the road/trackway encountered in this area. The bones may have originally been discarded elsewhere and then, perhaps, deliberately brought to the site and dumped as construction material.
Six of the deposits gave identifiable remains (Contexts 102, 103, 119, 122, 126 and 183), which were primarily those of cattle, with a collection of tooth enamel fragments from Context 102 which were identified as a horse tooth. Cattle remains included a tooth, metapodials and phalanges from Contexts 103, 119, 122 and 126, with tarsals and radius fragments from Context 183. Some of the large mammal shaft fragments recorded in the ‘unidentified’ component from Context 119 were probably parts of the metapodials recovered from this deposit, as the condition of the bones was poor and the surfaces had split into layers. Tooth enamel fragments in these deposits were not identified to species but those recorded as ‘large mammal’ were probably cattle; they were too badly broken to reconstruct.
Nine of the 11 deposits from this trench which produced bone were fills of a large rectangular feature, Context 403, described by the excavator as a possible ‘tank’ which had been cut into the natural sand. No evidence of a lining for this feature was seen or recorded. Fills of two other associated, but smaller, pits gave another 11 fragments of bone. The fills of the three pits were of early 2nd to early 3rd century AD date and, in total, 294 fragments were recovered, of which just 34 were identifiable.
As with the material from Trench 1, the vertebrate remains were of extremely poor preservation, with a high degree of fragmentation. This was largely the result of fresh breakage damage which had occurred during excavation and post-excavation processes but the very poor condition of the bones in the ground rendered them easily broken when moved. Much surface erosion was apparent, suggesting that the surrounding matrix was not conducive to the survival of bone. Bones were splitting into layers and some were flakey and crumbly. Some fragments of large mammal tooth enamel were present, but these were also of rather poor preservation.
The remains were mostly identified as cattle and pig, with a very few sheep/goat bones also being present. Some fragments were recorded as possible cattle, because their poor condition made a more precise identification impossible. A range of skeletal elements were recorded for cattle, including major meat-bearing bones such as humeri and femora, and fragments typically interpreted as primary butchery waste e.g. mandibles, isolated teeth and phalanges. The pig remains were clearly biased in favour of teeth, with a mandible and scapula fragment also noted.
The unidentified fraction or fragments which could only be identified into broad categories, such as ‘large mammal’ and ‘medium-sized mammal’ consisted mainly of tooth enamel, shaft and rib fragments. These were almost certainly cattle, particularly the enamel fragments, but the presence of fragments of horse or even perhaps large deer (both of which have bones of a similar size) cannot be ruled out especially as the preservation was so poor. Two hundred fragments could not be identified; this component comprised many small fragments of bone, some of which had lost all of their surfaces and, in most cases, distinctive morphological characteristics were entirely absent. Small burnt bones, frequently white in colour were found throughout the deposits.
The vertebrate assemblage from this trench was recovered from six deposits, four of which were fills of Context 909, an oval pit which cut through a buried soil. Infilling of the pit was thought to have occurred by about 150 AD. The buried soil also produced a small collection of bones (Context 905=906). In total 156 fragments of animal bone were recovered from this trench, of which 24 were identifiable to species or family group (Table 3).
As seen from elsewhere on the site, the bone preservation was poor and the assemblage extremely fragmented. The material from Context 908, the fill from which many of the bones were recovered, did show slightly better preservation, although surface erosion and fresh breakage damage were still much in evidence. The bones were in such a poor condition that breakage on excavation was inevitable. Tooth enamel, which usually survives better in adverse conditions because of its higher mineral content, was also not particularly well preserved.
Identified remains from the earlier buried soil were restricted to two caprovid teeth. The degree of wear (attrition) of one of these (a mandibular M3) suggested the tooth came from an adult individual of approximately 3 to 4 years of age when it died (after Payne 1973; 1987).
Bones from the fills of the oval pit were dominated by the remains of cattle, in particular skeletal elements typically discarded during initial carcass preparation, e.g. horncore fragments, metapodials, calcaneii, astragalus and phalanges. There were also two scapula fragments but both of these were very eroded and poorly preserved. Given the poor preservation, it is likely that the remains are biased in favour of the smaller more robust fragments such as phalanges and calcaneii. All of the bones were from adult animals.
Pig remains from Context 908 were mainly teeth or mandible fragments and included a fragment of a canine from a male individual. The ?maxillary and mandibular third molars were unworn so may not have erupted (or at least were not in wear) and the isolated teeth appeared to be fragments of molar that may have been from the same tooth but which could not be reconstructed.
This trench formed the main intervention at the site and was an open area which encompassed some of the evaluation trenches (although not Trenches 1, 4 or 9). Features encountered in this trench included a clay floor of an industrial building, with a large circular pit (Context 1247) at its centre and a ditch (Context 1221) along its southern edge. Hand-collected bone was recovered from 27 deposits, seven of which were fills of the large pit and three represented deposits from within the ditch. The ditch fills produced just over 50% of the vertebrate remains from this trench. Most of the features probably dated to the first half of the second century, and had fallen out of use by 150 AD, at which time a substantial midden layer, Context 1217, was deposited in this area. A total of 683 fragments of bone were recovered, but of these only 64 were identifiable to species or family group.
Preservation of the remains was poor, and this was particularly noticeable for the fragments recovered from the fills of ditch 1221. A high degree of fragmentation was noted throughout, much of which resulted from fresh breakage damage; the bones were very fragile, however. Surface erosion was frequently observed and some of the bone surfaces had lost their outer ‘face’ and were splitting into layers. Fragments of tooth enamel were common and clearly were small fragments or broken into pieces, whilst burnt fragments, usually white in colour, were noted from many of the deposits. On the basis of the colour, these fragments have probably been subjected to high temperatures or have been exposed to prolonged heating.
Identified remains from this trench were restricted to the main domestic mammals, with cattle and pig remains being most numerous. A single small fragment of a dog maxilla was identified from Context 1228. A large quantity of bone (619 fragments) could not be identified other than to broad groupings and of these 226 fragments were wholly unidentifiable. The large mammal category included very many fragments of tooth enamel, most of which showed recent damage. These were probably cattle teeth but there was too much damage to make definitive identifications. Medium-sized mammal fragments were fewer in number and were mainly rib, shaft and vertebra fragments, although a few cranium fragments were also present.
The cattle bones included a range of skeletal elements with the ditch fills, in particular, dominated by head and terminal limb elements (metapodials, carpals, tarsals and phalanges). Remains of pigs showed a similar emphasis, whilst the few caprovid bones included several meat-bearing bones such as scapulae and pelves.
Age-at-death data were somewhat scarce. Caprovid remains included a mandible with some of the teeth in situ which was from an animal of approximately two years old, whilst an isolated third molar was from a slightly older individual aged three to four years when it was killed. Other isolated teeth were, for the most part, too fragmented to provide any information.
The vertebrate assemblage from this site was mainly concentrated in ditch and pit fills and deposits of early 2nd to early 3rd century date. Detailed analysis of the vertebrate remains was hindered by the poor preservation which resulted in there being few fragments that could be identified to species or that were able to provide useful biometrical and age-at-death information. The high proportion of tooth enamel fragments clearly highlighted a taphonomic bias in favour of certain skeletal elements, i.e. those which are more durable and survive better when preservational conditions are poor – teeth tend to be prevalent in such conditions because of their higher mineral content (in comparison to bone). Given the problems with preservation and limitations resulting from taphonomic factors, the apparent frequencies of different species represented and the identification of disposal patterns may not truly reflect the economic significance of the species or the original composition of the discarded remains. However, with these caveats in mind, some information was gleaned from the assemblage.
Identified vertebrate material consisted mainly of cattle, pig and caprovid remains; no bird bones or wild mammal species were noted. Taking the assemblage as a whole (it was too small to try to differentiate between date periods), the relative abundance of the different species suggested that cattle were prevalent (60%), with pig forming a quarter of the identified assemblage and caprovids being of less importance (12 %). This was supported to some extent by the unidentified component, almost 40% of which consisted of large mammal fragments, in comparison with the 5% of fragments representing medium-sized mammals. Horse and dog were the only other species to be identified but remains of these were few. From the little age-at-death data obtained, most of the animals represented were adult when they were slaughtered, although the presence of younger animals was hinted at for each of the three main species.
The higher proportion of cattle is noted at the adjacent Fairclough Homes site- 76% of the identifiable assemblage (see Viner in Williams and Reid 2008, 170). Sheep/goat and pig formed a much smaller proportion of the assemblage, while horse and dog were represented by single fragments.
At the community dig site skeletal element representation for cattle and pigs suggested that the bones probably represented primary butchery waste from the initial preparation of carcasses. Consumption refuse (represented by meat-bearing elements such as scapulae, radii, femora and pelves) was also present but only formed a minor component of the assemblage, with most of the few caprovid remains being in this category.
Much of the material was recovered from features which must have been convenient places for the disposal of rubbish, e.g. ditch 1221, pit 909 and tank 403. Material from Trench 1, associated with the road and its surface, may represent bones deliberately brought to the site to be used as hard core.
Despite the many limitations of this assemblage, it does seem to fit well with other vertebrate material of this date, particularly from similar sites which have close associations with military facilities. A predominance of cattle is characteristic of many Roman assemblages and shows a marked change from the dietary preference for lamb and mutton typically suggested by British Late Iron Age assemblages (Albarella 2007). However, this shift in emphasis did not occur everywhere, nor was it instantaneous following the Roman invasion, but, generally, the earliest occurrences of this trend have been noted from assemblages recorded from military sites and the civilian settlements which grew up around them (King 1978). It has been suggested that this change represents an adoption of ideas associated with the incoming Roman military population; the cultural and dietary traditions represented being more characteristic of the Low Countries and Germany from where most of the army based in Britain originated (Dobney 2001). Higher frequencies of pig remains have also been noted at early Roman military and urban sites (King 1978) and some researchers (King op. cit.; Dobney 2001) have suggested that higher proportions of pig remains may provide evidence of higher status occupation or could, perhaps, be related to occupancy by people of Mediterranean origin. Whether this is the case at Middlewich is unclear but the activities in the area do seem to have been closely linked to the military installation nearby.
Albarella, U. (2007). The end of the Sheep Age: people and animals in the Late Iron Age, pp. 389-402 in Haselgrove, C. and Moore, T. (eds). The Later Iron Age in Britain and beyond. Oxford: Oxbow Books.
Cappers, R. T. J., Bekker, R. and Jans J. E. A. (2006). Digitale Zadenatlas van Nederland. Gronigen Archaeological Studies 4. Gronigen: Barkhuis Publishing & Gronigen University Library.
Dobney, K. (2001). A place at the table: the role of vertebrate zooarchaeology within a Roman research agenda, pp. 36-46 in James, S. and Millett, M. (eds.), Britons and Romans: advancing an archaeological agenda. Council for British Archaeology Research Reports 125. York.
Dobney, K. and Rielly, K. (1988). A method for recording archaeological animal bones: the use of diagnostic zones. Circaea 5, 79-96.
Grant, A. (1982). The use of tooth wear as a guide to the age of domestic ungulates, pp. 91-108 in Wilson, B., Grigson, C. and Payne, S. (eds.), Ageing and sexing animal bones from archaeological sites. British Archaeological Reports, British Series 109. Oxford.
King, A. C. (1978). A comparative survey of bone assemblages from Roman sites in Britain. Bulletin of the Institute of Archaeology 15, 207-32.
O’Connor, T. P. (1989). Bones from Anglo-Scandinavian Levels at 16-22 Coppergate. The Archaeology of York 15 (3), 137-207 + plates VII-XI. London: Council for British Archaeology.
Payne, S. (1973). Kill-off patterns in sheep and goats: the mandibles from Asvan Kale. Anatolian Studies 23, 281-303.
Payne, S. (1987). Reference codes for the wear state in the mandibular cheek teeth of sheep and goats. Journal of Archaeological Science 14, 609-14.
Van der Veen, M. and O’Connor, T. (1998). The expansion of agricultural production in late Iron Age and Roman Britain, pp. 127-43 in Bayley, J. (ed.), Science in Archaeology: an agenda for the future. London: English Heritage.
von den Driesch, A. (1976). A guide to the measurement of animal bones from archaeological sites. Peabody Museum Bulletin 1. Cambridge Mass.: Harvard University.
Williams, M and Reid, M (2008). Salt: Life and Industry. Excavations at King Street, Middlewich, 2001-2002. BAR British Series 456
The human bone recovered from the excavation (the contents of a cremation urn in Trench 2, context 208) was submitted for analysis to Dr J A Pearson and Laura O’Gorman at the School of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology, University of Liverpool.
Total bone weight analysed: 468g
Estimated number of individuals: 1
Presence of animal bone: one long bone shaft of microfauna
Cremation temperature: exceeded 650°C
Completeness of skeleton: all areas represented (but no teeth)
Cremation urn during excavation, Trench 2
All fragments were examined and separated into the following fragment types:
The non-diagnostic fragments were separated in small, medium and large fragments and weight of these recorded as the following:
Smaller fragments (<4mm) : 68 g Larger fragments (>4mm) : 125 g
For comparative purposes, Mays (1998) reports that a complete adult skeleton weighs approximately 2kg.
The diagnostic fragments were examined for positively identifiable fragments (cranial and post cranial) and the remainder next separated into long bone diaphyses and articulations. The majority of the long bone diaphyses could not be identified to element, but there are fragments from bones with larger circumferences (suggestive of the presence of humerus/femur/tibia) and those with smaller circumferences (suggestive of radius/fibula/ulna/clavicle).
A large number of fragments (~60) were identified as belonging to the cranium including the petrous part of the temporal. Four additional fragments were also identified to the eye/cheek region, three to the maxilla and one to the mandibular condyle
Approximately 12 fragments of vertebrae were identified, two possible portions of the sacrum and 4 fragments of ribs.
In addition to evidence above for long bones, several fragments could be positively assigned to particular elements: a portion of the tibia displaying the nutrient foramen, two curved articulations belonging to the proximal/distal femur, proximal humerus or perhaps the proximal talus. One fragment of fibula ~3cm long, three fragments of metacarpals or metatarsals and one distal fragment of a finger or toe phalanx.
Notably absent fragments
Mays (1998) reports that a number of fragments are commonplace in cremation burials, and a few of these are absent here. The odontoid process of the axis vertebra, one of the mandibular condyles and one side of the petrous portion of the temporal. Also, there were no dental remains of any kind.
There is no duplication of any identifiable bones and thus would conclude that this cremation represents the remains of a single individual.
No dental remains were recovered, despite the presence of fragments of the maxilla and mandible and so the individual has been identified as an adult due to present and complex cranial sutures and thickness of the cranial vault bone and muscularity of the fibula. No diagnostic features of the skeleton relating to sex were present, thus sex could not be identified.
A few small stones and a single long bone shaft of microfauna were picked out.
Most of the cremated bone was whitish in colour. But the outer surfaces of the denser bones occasionally displayed a white exterior and black/blue/grey interior. Therefore, the cremation probably exceeded 650 degrees Celsius (Mays 1998), to calcine most bones but that this temperature was not maintained long enough to penetrate the denser long bones.
Mays, S (1998) Archaeology of Human Bones. Routledge
THE ENVIRONMENTAL SAMPLES
Alexandra Schmidl, Örni Akeret and John Carrott
Most of the biological remains recovered from the ten sediment samples were plant remains well preserved by waterlogging, with a few also well preserved by charring. The concentrations of organic finds varied, with rather few being recorded from six of the deposits but the four others yielding interpretatively valuable assemblages of plant remains and three of these also giving useful numbers of invertebrate macrofossils. There were very few records for cultivated plant taxa – only occasional cereal remains. Overall, the larger plant and invertebrate assemblages recovered suggested that these deposits were principally composed of waste from the housing of domestic animals, together with subsequent colonizers of the cleared material. No identifiable microfossil remains other than of pollen grains/spores were detected.
Waterlogged silver birch timbers in pit 1247, Trench 12
Seven sediment subsamples were processed by the excavators prior to delivery to PRS, and the unsorted ‘flots’ (or washovers) for analysis. The weights and volumes of the subsamples were recorded before being placed onto 500 micron nylon mesh in a sieving tank. The light organic fraction was washed over into a 500 micron sieve to collect the washover fractions.
In addition, three sediment subsamples were processed by PRS. The lithologies of these deposits were recorded using a standard pro forma and subsamples taken and processed, broadly following the techniques of Kenward et al. (1980; 1986), for the recovery of plant and invertebrate macrofossils. Plant and invertebrate remains in the processed subsample fractions (residues and flots) were recorded briefly by ‘scanning’ using a low-power microscope (x7 to x45), identifiable taxa and other biological and artefactual components being listed on paper.
Plant remains were identified by comparison with modern reference material at PRS and the use of published works (Cappers et al. 2006, Jacomet 2006). Identifiable taxa and other components being listed on paper. Nomenclature for plant taxa follows Stace (1997).
The flots were also examined for insect and other invertebrate remains using a low-power microscope (to x45). Unfortunately, the work required for full analysis of the invertebrate assemblages was far in excess of the financial resources available to the project and, consequently, these remains were only rather superficially recorded. Nomenclature for insect follows Kloet and Hincks (1964-77).
The three samples of sediment submitted were also examined for the eggs of intestinal parasitic nematodes using the ‘squash’ technique of Dainton (1992). Assessment slides were scanned at 150x magnification with 600x used where necessary. Although primarily for the detection of intestinal parasitic nematode eggs, the ‘squash’ technique routinely reveals other microfossil remains, and where present these have been noted.
The results are presented in context number order by trench. Archaeological information, provided by the excavator, is given in square brackets. A brief summary of the processing method follows in round brackets after the sample numbers. No unprocessed sediment remains from these samples. The plant remains recovered are listed in Table 1.
Context 142 [possible 1st century AD buried turf] Sample 4/T (10 litres sieved to 500 microns with washover; processed by the excavator)
The small washover (2 g, dried) consisted mostly of modern rootlets and some charcoal (to 3 mm), with a few decayed wood fragments, unidentifiable plant fibres and sand, but there was also a very small number of waterlogged seeds and fruits including common nettle, orache/goosefoot and silver birch.
Context 908 [waterlogged fill of pit 909, 2nd century AD] Sample 2/T (10 litres sieved to 500 microns with washover; processed by the excavator)
There was a small washover (12 g, dried) mostly of ‘woody’ debris including decayed wood, bark and twig fragments, with some rootlets and charcoal (to 5 mm), and a few unidentifiable plant fibres and invertebrate remains. The last were restricted to occasional poorly preserved pieces of unidentified beetle sclerite (eroded and rather fragmented), however.
The deposit produced a moderate amount of decayed seeds and fruits of plants representing various habitats, but dominated by taxa growing on heath/moor and grassland (especially damp), such as gypsywort, lesser/marsh stitchwort, lesser spearwort, marsh pennywort, sedge, silver birch, spike-rush and tormentil. There were also leaves of bogmoss which probably arrived with imported peat. Other botanical remains derived from waste/rough ground and included black nightshade, common nettle, hemlock, henbane, knotgrass, orache/goosefoot and white/red dead-nettle. In addition, a few remains of plant species growing in hedges (e.g. blackberry/raspberry, elder, hazel) were recorded and there was also a single charred grain of barley.
Context 1215 [fill of ditch 1224] Sample 16/T (20 litres sieved to 500 microns with washover; processed by the excavator)
The tiny washover (1 g, dried) contained sand, culm fragments (to 20 mm) and rootlets, with a little charcoal (to 2 mm), cinder (to 3 mm) and unidentifiable plant fibres. A rather small range of waterlogged seeds and fruits were recovered from this deposit. The most abundant plant taxon in this assemblage was common nettle, but there were also traces of other wild plant species such as blackberry/raspberry, elder, orache/goosefoot and selfheal. In addition, two charred caryopses of brome were found.
Context 1220 [buried soil beneath track 1206] Sample 15/T (20 litres sieved to 500 microns with washover; processed by the excavator)
There was a small washover (2 g, dried) mostly of rootlets, with a few leaf fragments, and a little sand, charcoal (to 5 mm) and slag/cinder (to 3 mm). Identifiable botanical remains were restricted to a small number of waterlogged seeds and fruits, including chickweed, common nettle, dock, elder, gypsywort, orache/goosefoot and white/red dead-nettle, representing habitats such as waste ground and hedges. There were also two charred caryopses of brome in this assemblage
Context 1222 [fill of ditch 1221] Sample 7/T (20 litres sieved to 500 microns with washover; processed by the excavator)
The small washover (4 g, dried) consisted mainly of slightly silted unidentified charcoal (to 15 mm), with some rootlets and a very little sand, but there were also a few waterlogged nuts and catkin-scales of silver birch and seeds of orache/goosefoot. Other identifiable remains were restricted to two charred caryopses of brome.
Context 1257 [‘peaty’ basal fill of circular pit 1247 within 2nd century Roman industrial building] Sample 11/T (2 kg/4.5 litres sieved to 300 microns with paraffin flotation; processed by PRS)
Moist, dark grey (externally) to light to mid orange-brown (internally), brittle, layered and compressed, slightly sandy slightly clay, fine and coarse herbaceous detritus and amorphous organic sediment. There were some areas where clay and silt formed a greater, but still minor, part of the deposit. Stones (2 to 6 mm) were present and ‘straw’ was abundant in the sample.
The fairly large wet residue (1.4 litres) and small flot (~25 ml) both consisted mostly of ‘straw-like’ material and small unidentifiable plant fibres, but there were also wood fragments, twiglets, bud scales, cereal pericarps, ‘stems’ and ‘leaves’ of mosses (Bryophyta), small undisaggregated lumps of possible herbivore dung, some charcoal and a few rootlets. Twigs and leaves of heather were the most commonly identified plant remains from this deposit. In addition, there were moderate numbers of very well preserved waterlogged seeds and fruits. However, the identifiable component of these remains was restricted to a rather small range of taxa: seeds and fruits of bent, sedge, clover, cornflower, dock, hemp-nettle, selfheal and wild basil. There were also a few charred utricles of sedge present.
There were a few variably preserved invertebrate remains in the flot. Some beetle sclerites (e.g. of Cercyon analis(Paykull) and ?Monotoma picipes Herbst) were very well preserved and there were also some fragile remains present (e.g. wing fragments), whereas other macrofossils were heavily eroded (though fragmentation was generally quite low). Other remains present included sclerites of staphylinid beetles, a small weevil (probably Ceutorhynchus sp.), Helophorus ?flavipes (Fabricius), some fly puparia and a few mites (Acarina).
The microfossil ‘squash’ was mostly fragments of plant tissue, with some pollen grains/spores and a very small inorganic content. No eggs of intestinal parasitic nematodes were seen.
Context 1265 [burnt layer surrounding possible 2nd century hearth within 2nd to 3rd century industrial building] Sample 6/T (10 litres sieved to 500 microns with washover; processed by the excavator)
The small washover (3 g, dried) was mostly of rootlets and slightly silted charcoal (to 10 mm), with some sand, a single earthworm egg capsule and a few waterlogged nuts and catkin-scales of silver/downy birch.
Context 1278 [‘peaty’ fill of pit 1247 within late 2nd to 3rd century Roman industrial building] Sample 9/T (2 kg/3.8 litres sieved to 300 microns with paraffin flotation; processed by PRS)
Moist, mid to dark grey-brown to very dark grey (with some areas which were mid to dark orange-brown internally), brittle, layered and compressed, slightly sandy silty clay fine and coarse herbaceous detritus and amorphous organic sediment. There was a minor component of light to mid grey clay silt. Stones (2 to 20 mm), fly puparia, wood, ‘straw’ and rootlets were present in the sample.
There was a large wet residue (1.8 litres) and a small flot (~15 ml) both largely composed of tiny pieces of wood, ‘straw-like’ fragments and other unidentifiable plant fibres, with some undisaggregated lumps of possible herbivore dung. Again, a large number of the twigs and leaves were of heather, together with ‘leaves’ of mosses (Bryophyta) and bracken. Fruits and seeds were well preserved by waterlogging and included representatives of wild plant taxa such as brome, buttercup, chickweed, cornflower, foxtail, grass family, hemp-nettle, meadow-grass, mouse-ear, orache, ribwort plantain, rush, sedge, selfheal and tormentil. There were also a few remains of cultivated plant species, in the form of glume bases of spelt wheat, from this deposit.
The flot contained a substantial assemblage (forming perhaps 30% to 50% of the total volume) of highly variably preserved invertebrate remains. Many of the remains were very well preserved but still more were reduced to ‘filmy’ scraps of cuticle. There were numerous beetle remains, including those of Cercyon analis, Cryptopleurum ?minutum(Fabricius), various staphylinids (including Omalium rivulare (Paykull)), ?Monotoma picipes, Anobium punctatum(Degeer) (the woodworm beetle), some Carabidae and weevils (Curculioindae, probably including Ceutorhynchussp.). There were also many fly puparia and mites (Acari), some sculpted and other ants (Formicidae) and occasional remains of relatively fragile invertebrate body parts in the form of wing fragments.
The microfossil ‘squash’ was mostly fragments of plant tissue, with very many pollen grains/spores and a small inorganic content. No eggs of intestinal parasitic nematodes were seen.
Context 1280 [lens of black fibrous organic material in pit 1247 within late 2nd to 3rd century Roman building] Sample 12/T (1 kg/1.4 litres sieved to 300 microns with paraffin flotation; processed by PRS)
Wet, very dark grey-brown to black, unconsolidated to slightly sticky (working more or less soft), slightly sandy slightly clay silt. Stones (2 to 20 mm) and twigs were present and fine and coarse herbaceous detritus was abundant in the sample.
The fairly large wet residue (600 ml) and small flot (~10 ml) were, again, largely composed of plant remains. More than half of the plant material was charred or partially charred. This deposit consisted mostly of wood fragments, twiglets, bark, charcoal, ‘straw-like’ fragments, fibres, rootlets, bud scales, mosses and small lumps of possible herbivore dung. Identifiable charred botanical remains included brome, common knapweed, dock, hulled barley, rush (perianth), sedge and selfheal. In addition, waterlogged seeds and fruits of bedstraw, clover, corncockle, gypsywort, hawkbit and meadow-grass were noted.
The flot gave relatively few invertebrate remains most of which were of fly puparia. There were also some mites, ants and a few beetle remains (including Cercyon analis, staphylinids, ?Monotoma picipes and a weevil head). Preservation of the remains was, again, highly variable, with some being very well preserved and others no more than heavily eroded (‘filmy’) scraps – some of the remains appeared to be charred.
The microfossil ‘squash’ was mostly of charred (approximately two-thirds) and uncharred (most of the remaining third) organic detritus, with a small inorganic content. No eggs of intestinal parasitic nematodes were seen.
Context 1287 [fill of possible pre-Roman pit 1273] Sample 13/T (15 litres sieved to 500 microns with washover; processed by the excavator)
The tiny washover (~1 g, dried) was mostly modern rootlets and some sand, with a few leaf fragments and a little charcoal (to 3 mm). Identifiable botanical macrofossil remains were restricted to a few waterlogged seeds and fruits of common nettle, silver birch and small nettle.
Most of the plant remains recovered from the ten sediment samples were well preserved by waterlogging and a small amount of them by charring. The concentrations of finds varied between the deposits, being relatively low in Context 142 (Trench 1) and Contexts 1215, 1220, 1222, 1265 and 1287 (all from Trench 12), whereas the other four (Context 908 from Trench 9 and Contexts 1257, 1278 and 1280 from Trench 12) produced abundant seeds and fruits. The same pattern was seen for the diversities of the plant taxa represented (see Table 1).
The processed subsamples from Contexts 908, 1257, 1278 and 1280 gave interpretatively valuable assemblages of well preserved seeds and fruits and very variably preserved invertebrate remains. In Contexts 908, 1257 and 1278, all or almost all of the plant material was waterlogged, whereas in Context 1280 there was also a considerable proportion of charred remains. All of the plant remains recovered from the four contexts – whether preserved by waterlogging or charring – were in an excellent state of preservation and represented taxa of various habitats (see Table 1).
The plant assemblages were dominated by remains of wild taxa indicative of different habitats: heath and moor, wet or damp places (e.g. wet grassland, ponds, marsh, banksides), grassland, disturbed and rough ground, scrub and hedgerow (the abundant remains suggesting nearby, perhaps adjacent, hedges) and, to a lesser degree, areas of disturbed waste ground.
Overall, rather few finds of cultivated plants were found at this site – Contexts 908, 1222 and 1280 each gave a small number of charred hulled barley grains. The records of spelt wheat from Context 1278 accord well with the date of the building (late 2nd to 3rd century) in which the pit was situated, as this was an important cereal for the Roman period (Greig 1991, Van der Veen and O’Connor 1998). These food plant remains were presumably charred by accident during some stage of crop processing (e.g. parching, drying) or cooking, but were too few to be of any real interpretative value.
In Contexts 1257 and 1278 remains of heather (Calluna vulgaris (L.) Hull) were conspicuously frequent. This species is characteristic of heath land and may have been imported with turves, perhaps used for roofing or to serve as bedding (for animals or humans). It may conceivably also have been used as a dye plant (Kenward and Hall 1995) but, in the present archaeological context, the most likely utilisation would seem to be as bedding for animals.
Lumps of compacted and layered short plant fragments which are likely to be herbivore dung were found in Contexts 1257, 1278 and 1280. This, together with fragmentary cereal pericarp, grassland species and crop weeds, which might have been gathered with hay or eaten by animals grazing in pastures or meadows suggests that ‘stable manure’ (sensu Kenward and Hall 1997) was probably a major component of these sediments. Such ‘hay’-rich deposits have also been recorded from other Roman sites and especially from military establishments (see Hall and Huntley 2007).
In addition, a few Sphagnum ‘leaves’ were found in Context 908 (fill of pit 909) from Trench 9, together with other wetland species such as marsh pennywort, sedge, spike-rush and tormentil, which suggest an origin in imported peat, presumably brought to the site for use as fuel or, perhaps, in construction (see Hall 2003).
Invertebrate remains were present in the three samples for which paraffin flotation was employed (Contexts 1257, 1278 and 1280) and abundant in the flot from Context 1278 (Sample 9). Each of the assemblages exhibited highly variable preservation, but included some very well preserved remains. Remains of the beetle Cercyon analis were recovered from all three deposits. This species lives in decaying organic matter of various kinds (including dung and compost) and supports the suggestion that the lumps of compacted and layered short plant fragments seen were of herbivore dung. The presence of Omalium rivulare and Cryptopleurum ?minutum in Context 1278 lend further support, again indicating the presence of decaying organic material and specifically dung, respectively. The presence of a component of animal dung could also be one explanation for the presence of fly puparia in all three of these samples. Small numbers of poorly preserved and unidentified beetle sclerites were also seen in the washover from Context 908 but these were of no interpretative value.
Although some of the processed subsamples from Trench 12 were from contexts located within an industrial building, only traces of material indicative of industrial activity (i.e. cinder/slag) were found from just two deposits (Contexts 1215 and 1220). Overall, the larger plant and invertebrate assemblages recovered suggested that these deposits were principally composed of waste from the housing of domestic animals (e.g. soiled bedding material, traces of cereals – perhaps from fodder), together with subsequent colonizers of the cleared material.
The only identifiable microfossils recorded from the ‘squash’ subsamples were pollen grains/spores—numerous in Context 1278, present in Context 1257 and absent from Context 1280. In particular, no eggs of intestinal parasitic nematodes were seen.
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