Study Group for Roman Pottery

Roman Pottery Bibliography

Hertfordshire: page 5

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Journal of Roman Pottery Studies  Vol 4, 1991 pages 93-95
J R Perrin
750 Johnson, C, 'Late Iron Age and Roman Age', in Moss-Eccardt, J, 'Archaeological investigations in the Letchworth Area, 1958-74', Proc Cambridgeshire Archaeol Soc, Vol. 77, 1988, (35-103), 84-7.
Selected pottery from two sites in Letchworth and one in Baldock. The classification uses fabrics 2A, 4, 7, 8, 9, 13, 15, 15A, 20, 27 and 42 as described in Stead, I & Rigby, V, Baldock Excavations, 1968-72, (Britannia Monograph Series No. 7, 1986). There is some late pre-Roman Iron Age material, and there are notes on the samian by H Pengelly.
Location: Letchworth Museum?

751 Niblett, R, 'Evidence for the Antonine Fire at Verulamium from the Wheelers' excavation', Hertfordshire Archaeol, Vol. 9, 1983/86, 29-78.
   This is an extremely important and useful article, since it lists all the evidence relating to the Antonine fire, much of it previously unpublished. The two main results are "that the Wheelers tended to date their 2nd century houses too early", and "that many more of these houses overlay earlier masonry structure than appears from the published report".
   Niblett suggests that the dates are too early because "both samian and coins tended to have longer survival life than the Wheelers allowed for" and were "considerably older than the various layers in which they were found". She also states that "on site after site early 2nd century samian is found with coarse pottery dating from c140-l80. This is not really surprising since the best table ware is likely to have had a longer table life than the coarse kitchen wares, but it was not a point that was considered in the 1930s excavations".
   This assumption of the extra potential of samian to 'survive in use' is one which would be wholeheartedly supported by many pottery researchers. Indeed Niblett shows that Verulamium provides sound evidence for the phenomenon, and this could have far-reaching implications for the dating of many sites. There is a need, however, to be certain of the dating of the coarse wares upon which the theory is based: often that dating is itself dependent on the dating of associated samian and coins. At what point can one be certain that the samian is contemporary, and not either surviving or residual? In spite of the above-quoted view of the likely survival of earlier samian, in Niblett's assessment of the dating at Verulamium there is no suggestion that the samian associated with the 'Antonine' fire itself contained a high proportion of survivals, which by implication could therefore push the date of the fire rather later than AD 155 (150-160). Space precludes a detailed discussion of these aspects here, but the article does highlight the need to re-examine the origins of some established pottery dates. The evidence for the building sequences and the dating of the Antonine fire are summarised in two tables.
       Each of the buildings uncovered by the Wheelers is described in detail (pp33-57) and the catalogue of dating evidence follows this sequence (pp60-78). The catalogue lists in detail the pottery and coins from each of the major layers and features mentioned in the discussion. Many parallels are cited from the large amount of pottery published by Frere. 162 sherds are illustrated (including six samian pieces with notes by S Greep; also possible kilns are noted).
  : In many ways the catalogue is the key to the article as a whole, and it is therefore disappointing to have to note many inconsistencies and errors. Some of the terminology for both fabrics and forms is at fault. For example, 53 is not Rhenish; 5, 139 and 140 are not beakers; and 119 is a bowl, not an 'open dish' (can a dish be closed?). Many of the Frere parallels are not at all similar (e.g. 64, 74, 81, 88, 93, 96, 97, 112 and 124). Some are so far out as to suggest mis-numbering, or that the wrong vessel has been drawn or quoted. Not all of the groups of pottery selected and illustrated are noted in the relevant place in the text (e.g. 32-6, 48-54, 58-65, 79-84, 87-105 and 125-139). 87 and 156 are missed off the figure captions. 85-6 are from building 9, and not 8 as noted in the text on page 47. The catalogue/illustration order of 119 and 120 is reversed. There are two '32's (page 64); the first is in fact not illustrated. 151 is not really akin to the Nene Valley vessels quoted: In any case the latter are in cream ware. 13 is surely in BB1 and of the late 2nd century at the earliest, whereas the Frere parallel for it is in BB2, and it is termed BB2 in the text (p36). 14 appears twice in the same discussion p36, in which 'flanged bowls in BB2' are noted.
   Some of the mistakes (and there are others) are obviously due to poor proof-reading, or are typographical errors. Others are somewhat more disturbing, and as a result the evidence and its implications must be treated with care. Anyone seriously researching this period or site would be advised to handle the material first-hand.
  : It is a pity that the illustrated vessels could not have been denoted with bold type at the beginning of each catalogue entry. Some were difficult to find, and they are not strictly in numerical order.
   Despite these problems Mrs Niblett is to be congratulated for a painstaking piece of work, which was long overdue.

752 Niblett, R, comments on pottery in Montagu-Puckle, F H G & Niblett, R, 'Observations on the south-east side of the Basilica at Verulamium', Hertfordshire Archaeol Vol. 9, 1983/86, 178-82.
wbf/mjc/AD 30-70, later 4th
Pottery is mentioned only in the description of the structural sequence: "...consisted of fragments from several storage jars and cooking pots in local coarse ware, all of which date from within the bracket of cAD 30-70" "...a small quantity of later 4th century, unstratified, pottery was recovered from the site".

753 Greep, S J, 'The Samian Ware', in entry no. 752, 180 & 182. wbf/mjc/lst
Three samian vessels from early levels were noted during the watching brief in the Basilica area. All are illustrated.

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