Study Group for Roman Pottery

National Research Framework: North of Britain

Roman and Native interaction

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Edited by Jeremy Evans & Steven Willis on behalf of the SGRP, Northern Regional Group. October 1997; selectively revised 2002


12.1 Roman and Native interaction

This continues to be an important theme within studies of the Roman period and pottery analysis in the North of Britain offers much scope for the identification and investigation of the processes involved. The distribution of both Roman pottery types and pottery attributes, as well as the composition of assemblages, may be used, with provisos, as an index of the extent and nature of 'Romanization'. Analysis indicates that whilst Roman pottery was widespread across the region its consumption at different types of sites and in different areas followed differing patterns. The character of these variations continue to require clarification. Much pottery of the Roman period in the region displays a considerable degree of hybridity, combining attributes from differing traditions, Roman and native.

The possibility of deliberate rejection (eg. the exclusion or destruction) of Roman material by native communities, as well as of disinterest in or the re-definition of it, needs to be borne in mind (cf. Aitchison 1988).

12.2 The continuation of Iron Age pottery traditions through the Roman period

Across much of northern Britain pottery of Iron Age tradition continued to be produced in the Roman period. At rural sites this material typically forms significant proportions of recovered assemblages, whilst also occurring at villas and civil sites (eg. Holme House and Piercebridge). To date this material has not received the systematic attention it warrants, perhaps because it has traditionally, but mistakenly, been evaluated as 'unpromising'.

'Deromanization' appears to be exhibited in a number of trends apparent during the later 4th century. These include changes in the functional composition of northern pottery assemblages (Evans 1995a) and the resurgence of Iron Age type forms, on a seemingly more mass-produced scale. Examination of these developments is important for our understanding of the late Roman period and for subsequent changes (Evans 1985).

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