Study Group for Roman Pottery

National Research Framework: West of Britain


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Edited by Paul Booth & Steven Willis on behalf of The Study Group for Roman Pottery, Western Regional Group October 1997; selectively revised 2002


1.1 The Background and Origin of this Research Framework

This document was drawn up in response to the recognized need to establish clear research aims for the study of Roman pottery within this region. The principal spur was the English Heritage Frameworks initiative. However, it was considered important by the Study Group for Roman Pottery that regional and national statements of strategy incorporate Scotland and Wales as a matter of course. Hence the Framework for Western Britain forms one of four regional documents which cover the whole of the United Kingdom. The content of the present document draws upon contributions from individuals who work with material from the region. It was principally compiled during 1995 and 1996 following broad canvassing, discussion, submissions and draft circulation and comment. Those contributing are familiar with the character of this material within the region and its potential as a means of addressing a range of research questions many of which are fundamental for our wider understanding of the Roman period.

1.2 Geographical Area

This research design covers the western side of Britain, approximately south of a line from Aberdovey to Crewe. Specifically it covers the West Midlands region, the Welsh borders, the South-West of England and most of Wales. It does not deal, however, with the Cheshire Plain and North Wales areas which, it was agreed, are more appropriately dealt with in the Northern Regional Framework (cf. Evans & Willis 1997). Counties lying within the region (following the 1974 Boundary Commission changes) include Shropshire, Hereford and Worcester, West Midlands, Warwickshire, Gloucestershire, Gwent, West Glamorgan, Mid Glamorgan, South Glamorgan, Dyfed, Powys, Wiltshire, Avon, Somerset, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall, and parts of Cheshire, Staffordshire and Oxfordshire. While recognizing that these boundaries are essentially arbitrary, it is considered that counties further east belong to the East Midlands, and those to the south-east to Southern England (see the Frameworks for these regions (Martin & Wallace 1997 and Huson 1997, respectively)). Ceramically the northern part of the region is largely defined by the extent of the Severn Valley Ware tradition, and Black-Burnished Ware is crucial to the southern part. Nationally important industries on the eastern margins of the region are those of Mancetter-Hartshill and Oxfordshire.

1.3 An Absence of Existing Frameworks

No significant pre-existing regional research frameworks exist for this region (including Wales), either for Roman pottery or for the Roman period generally. A number of recent or current projects, usually of sub-regional scope, such as the Wroxeter Hinterland Project (White & van Leusen 1997), are addressing questions relating to settlement patterns within sub-regions, but do not contain specific pottery components. Most projects of this type have a curatorial rather than a research-led thrust; pottery study here tends to play an ancillary role, mainly in terms of dating.

1.4 Recent Work and Publication

Recent years have seen extensive investigation of Roman sites and landscapes in the region and a considerable number of projects have been published which contain significant reports upon pottery. A number of important contributions appearing since Fulford and Huddleston's (1991) survey should be noted. These include reports on material from the following sites: Alcester (reports in Cracknell & Mahany 1994; Cracknell 1996), Caerleon (Zienkiewicz 1992; 1993), Dorchester, Greyhound Yard and County Hall (Davies & Seager Smith 1993; Seager Smith 1993), Droitwich (Rees 1992), Exeter (Holbrook & Bidwell 1991; 1992), Lechlade, Rough Ground Farm, Glous. (Green & Booth 1993), Leucarum/Loughor (reports in Marvell & Owen-John 1997), Nuneham Courtney, Lower Farm, Oxon (Booth et al. 1994), Segontium/Caernarfon (reports in Casey et al. 1993), Shrewsbury bypass sites (Evans 1994), Uley (Leach 1993), Usk (Manning 1993), Worcester (Darlington & Evans 1992), and Worgret, near Wareham, Dorset (Hearne & Smith 1992). It is noteworthy that this list includes almost no 'normal' rural settlements, being heavily biased towards urban and other major centres, with two production sites (Lower Farm and Worgret) also included (cf. Section 7 below). A list of important assemblages for which publication is pending or required as a priority is presented below (Section 13).

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