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medieval ceramics
JOURNAL OF THE MEDIEVAL POTTERY RESEARCH GROUP
Volume 29 2005
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The Medieval Pottery Research Group was founded in 1975
to bring together people with an interest in pottery vessels
that were made, traded and used in Europe between the end
of the Roman period and the sixteenth century.
Its remit has subsequently expanded to include the pottery
of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, from both sides
of the Atlantic and beyond, as well as post-Roman building
materials.
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medieval ceramics
THIS JOURNAL was conceived to meet the need for an
annual publication devoted to all aspects of pottery
studies from the Early Saxon to the Post-Medieval
period, including theoretical, methodological and
analytical aspects of pottery research.
An annual conference is held (usually in May) and
meetings of regional groups take place at more frequent
intervals. The Medieval Pottery Research Group has
many Continental members whose work overlaps with
that of British members. Medieval Ceramics welcomes
offers of appropriate articles on all aspects of ceramic
research for publication.
Notes for contributors are given on page iv.
All general correspondence concerned with the
Medieval Pottery Research Group should be sent to the
Secretary, MPRG, c/o Museum of London Specialist
Services, Mortimer Wheeler House, 46 Eagle Wharf
Road, London N1 7ED.
Membership
All applications for membership, subscriptions and
orders for Medieval Ceramics should be sent to the
Treasurer, MPRG, at the same address.
Subscription rates
Individual 20
Institutional 25
The Medieval Pottery Research Group is a Registered
Charity, No. 1018513.
Copyright Individual authors
ISSN 1358-2496
Published by The Medieval Pottery Research Group
Designed and typeset by Christina Unwin
e-mail christina@wave.demon.co.uk
Printed by Farquhar and Son Ltd, Perth
The cover design shows the excavation of a wooden
staved bucket at Kirk Close in Perth (courtesy of SUAT
Ltd), an Islamic pottery vessel from off the coast of
Devon, England (courtesy of Philip Armitage, Mike
Miller, John Maule and Brixham Heritage Museum)
and fragments of a terracotta plaquette of the crucied
Christ from the Carmelite priory of Aalst (courtesy
Koen de Groote).
medieval ceramics
JOURNAL OF THE MEDIEVAL POTTERY RESEARCH GROUP
Volume 29 2005
editor Derek Hall SUAT Ltd
assistant editors
Chris Jarrett Pre-Construct Archaeology Ltd
Stan Cauvain freelance archaeologist
Notes for contributors
Contributions can be submitted at any time, but
main papers, which are subject to peer review, must
be received by 31st August for consideration for the
volume to be published the following year.
Manuscripts should contain a brief summary (100
150 words) for translation into other languages. They
should be types or printed on good quality A4 paper,
double-spaced and with a good left-hand margin (30
mm). Authors are requested to follow the layout and
conventions used in this journal. Three copies of the
manuscript with drafts of all artwork and tables
should be sent to: The Editor, MPRG, c/o SUAT Ltd,
55 South Methven Street, Perth PH1 5NX.
Authors, where feasible, should make every effort
to ensure that their contribution comes with some
publication grant aid.
Proofs will be sent to all authors for checking (not re-
writing). Failure to return the proofs by the required
date will lead to the editors sending their own corrected
proofs to the printer without further reference to the
author. Ten free offprints and a pdf version on disc will
be supplied to the authors on publication of a paper.
All statements and views published in Medieval
Ceramics are those of the contributors, and are not the
responsibility of the editors or the Medieval Pottery
Research Group.
Contents
Editorial Derek Hall
Papers
Pottery and identity in Saxon Sussex Ben Jervis
The material culture of monasteries in Liguria between the late Middle Ages
and the early Modern Age Paolo de Vingo
What did medieval people eat from? Robin Wood
A late medieval whiteware from Clarence Street, York Alan Vince
Normandy whitewares from Ronaldsons Wharf, Leith, Scotland Alan Vince and Richard Jones
The use of ceramics in late and post-medieval monasteries Data from three sites in Eastern Flanders
Koen De Groote
An unexpected catch for the Brixham trawler Catear Philip Armitage and Kate Armitage
Reviews
David R M Gaimster The historical archaeology of pottery supply and demand in the Lower Rhineland,
AD 14001800. BAR International Series 1518 2006 Mark Redknapp
Rmy Guadagnin Fosses Valle de LYsieux. Mille ans de production cramique en le-de-France.
Volume 2: Catalogue typo-chronologique des productions Duncan Brown
Andreas Heege (editor) Topferofen pottery kilns Fours de potiers. Die Erforschung fruhmittelalterlicher
bis neuzietlicher Topferofen (620 Jh) in Belgien, den Niederlanden, Deutchland, Osterreich und der Schweiz.
Basler Hefte zur Archaologie Volume 4 Derek Hall
Kevin Leahy Interrupting the pots. The excavation of Cleatham Anglo-Saxon Cemetery.
Council for British Archaeology Paul Blinkhorn
Clive Orton The pottery from medieval Novgorod and its region. The archaeology of medieval Novgorod.
Volume 1 Duncan Brown
News
List of officers and council of the group 2005
Accounts for year ending 31 January 2005
Regional Group Reports 2005
Information and notes for contributors
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Editorial
It is with great pleasure that I welcome all readers
to Volume 29 of Medieval Ceramics. This years
journal features a couple of papers that examine the
relationship between monastic institutions and their
pots, a consideration of how past peoples may have
used their pottery to reect their sense of identity, and a
couple of papers detailing the use of chemical sourcing
in attempting to provenance ceramics. We also have
another good range of books under review and are on
course, I hope, to bring our publication date closer to
the date on the cover!
I would like to thank my fellow members of the
editorial team, Chris Jarrett and Stan Cauvain, and
would like to acknowledge the help of Julie Edwards.
Finally I would like to thank Christina Unwin for the
design and typesetting of this volume and the carefully
considered redesign of the front cover, Frederike
Hammer and Gwladys Montiel for their German and
French paper summaries, and Farquhars of Perth the
printers.
Derek Hall 2008
Pottery and identity in Saxon Sussex
Summary
This paper explores the ways in which pottery
manufacture served to create and maintain feelings
of identity in Saxon Sussex. The concept of identity
is outlined before the archaeology of Saxon Sussex
is introduced. A practice based approach to pottery
Introduction
Identity is at the root of much Early Medieval
archaeology. One of our main historical sources,
Bedes ecclesiastic history, has in many ways set a
manifesto for research into ethnic groupings and the
movements of Angles, Saxons and Jutes and their
amalgamation into the English. Archaeologists
have attempted to see these identities represented
through objects, looking for example at the movement
of specic styles of brooch or cremation urn. As we
stand here in the modern climate of archaeology,
identity has become something of a buzz word with
many inadequate denitions and applications. Still,
there is, in many ways, a preoccupation with ethnicity
and an almost culture historical view that practice and
behaviour is identity. We are coming to realise however
that the reality is much more subtle, that practice is a
building block of identity yet identity is also a building
block of practice. In this paper I shall review some
of the current literature on identity creation before
discussing this in the context of my study area,
Saxon Sussex.
The study of identity
Identity is the way in which people perceived themselves
and were perceived in the past. I would argue that to
completely reconstruct this is impossible. All we can ever
do is reconstruct the circumstances and relationships
which create identity and form our own categorisations
through observation. I have not set out looking for any
particular scales or types of identity, but entered into
the study with an awareness that identity is changing
and plural (Conlin Casella and Fowler 2004, 1). The
model of identity I am creating here is not a new one,
and it draws largely on the structuration theory of
the sociologist Anthony Giddens (1979/2002). I also
acknowledge that it is a somewhat simplied version
of identity construction and that other factors will
play a role. We can see practice and time being the
key constituents of both identity and the material and
Ben Jervis
manufacture is then taken to explore the ways in
which pottery manufacture caused people to perceive
themselves in relation to their landscape, to each other
and to pottery.
social world in which it is created. Practice is a set of
relationships between people, objects and the natural
world, governed by factors such as experience and
upbringing with no hard and fast naturalistic rules.
These practices are carried out through time and
thus they act as a medium through which the social
environment is built, reconstructed and modied
(Gosden 1994, 8). A history of practices is therefore
a life history, unique to every person, artefact and
landscape. In order for practices to continue they have
to be carried out in a material and social environment
through time, so in as much as practice can be seen to
structure this world, so this world structures practice.
Within this world and this concept of biography people
perceive and place themselves in relation to objects,
people and their landscape through practice. It is this
perception which is identity.
Material culture is often all we have left of the past
and therefore its place within this model needs to be
dened. The pot, to take an example, is the result of
technological practice. These practices are governed by
technical considerations as well as social, political and
economic inuences (Dobres 2000, 96). The sequence
of pottery manufacture can be broken down into sets of
relationships. Some of these are visible archaeologically,
some can only be speculated from analogy and some
will be highly personal and contextual and thus
completely invisible (Gosselain 2000, 248). Once a pot
becomes situated in the material and social world it can
be seen to be developing an identity resulting from the
practices it partakes in. The process of objectication
occurs whereby the pot is created by us but at the same
creates aspects of us (Miller 2005, 910). To take an
example from pottery manufacture, skill can be seen to
be creating the vessel, but the act of producing the vessel
can be seen to be creating skill (Ingold 2000/2004, 262).
Such a viewpoint is untenable because it makes the pot
and the person indistinguishable. We have to sink to a
lower analytical scale, and see the pot as acting with
a person. Objectication therefore becomes the way
people in engage with things in order to play out their
practices within the constraints of their context. Further
1
* Department of Archaeology . University of Southampton . Avenue Campus . Highfield Road . Southampton . Hampshire
bpj106@soton.ac.uk
*
Ben Jervis 2
meaning is generated through interactions with a pot,
the users ideas of function are projected onto the object
just as the material properties of the pot informs this
perception of function. In this way pots can abstractly
at least be seen to be acting to generate and reinforce
their place in relation to people and other objects,
and thus generate and reproduce their identity.
It has been implicit so far that identity cannot be
thrust upon the past, nor can it be the initial aim of
studying an artefact assemblage. The assemblage itself
has no meaning, it is only once it is used to reconstruct
the world in which it originally existed and the practices
in which it partook that we can begin to ask questions
about identity. As identity is highly contextual, we must
understand the wider context before studying pottery
in depth.
Saxon Sussex
The modern county of Sussex formed the kingdom
of the South Saxons in the Early Saxon period. In the
8th and 9th centuries this kingdom declined to become
amalgamated into Mercia and then Wessex. A number
of sites are known from Sussex from both the Early and
Late Saxon periods. These are largely focussed on the
coastal plain and the South Downs (Welch 1983). This
may be partly due to a lack of archaeological eldwork
in the Weald but is also due in part to this area probably
being quite densely wooded. Both cemeteries and
settlements match this pattern (Figure 1).
The area was divided into formal units. Hundreds
existed before Domesday and are probably a 7th9th
century phenomenon, however it is possible that they
were based on earlier less formal divisions of land
(Joliffe 1930). They may have developed out of natural
communities with similar interests, bounded perhaps
by geographical features. Thus each hundred or group
of hundreds would have different interests in terms of
maintaining subsistence and the calendar of events for
a year would vary greatly (Table 1), naturally causing
differences in peoples perception of time and the
landscape. The 10th century brought civil defence and
thus burhs to Sussex. Chichester, Lewes and Hastings
developed as urban centres whilst Burpham and the
mysterious Eopburnham remained purely military
sites, perhaps supported by the growth of smaller urban
centres such as Steyning and Rye. The vast majority of
Domesday settlement was located along the coastal
plain and the downs. Both rural and urban settlements
existed, causing differences is peoples lifestyles and
perceptions of their world.
Of the rural sites the largest are at Bishopstone
and Botolphs in the Ouse and Adur valleys respectively.
At Bishopstone, Early and Late Saxon settlements are
known. The later settlement is in the valley bottom
whereas the earlier settlement is on top of a ridge,
inhabited since the Bronze Age. The two settlements are
very different, the earlier site on Rookery Hill consists
primarily of sunken featured buildings (Bell 1977) whilst
the site in the modern day village is a cluster of halls
and pits which have been interpreted as being a Minster
or Thegns home (Thomas 2005, 9). This is based on the
presence of a rare latrine feature, a possible tower and
evidence for metalworking. In the Adur valley a rural
settlement at Botolphs again uncovered late and early
occupation, although it is possible that the site was
abandoned in between these two phases. The evidence
in terms of buildings is similar and subsistence was
based mainly on farming and salt exploitation
(Gardiner 1990, 240).
Major excavations have taken place in two towns;
Steyning (Gardiner 1993) and Chichester (See Down
1989 for the most up to date gazetteer of sites in the
city). Both developed into urban centres with mints.
Other rural sites are also known, sunken featured
buildings have been found at Westhampnett (Chadwick
2006) and North Marden near Chichester (Drewett
Figure 1
Location of sites mentioned in the text Copyright Ben Jervis. Drawing Ben Jervis
3 Pottery and identity in Saxon Sussex
1982) and at Old Erringham at the mouth of the Adur
(Holden 1976). Small settlements of Early and Late
Saxon date are known at Hassocks (Butler 2000) and
Pagham (Gregory 1976) and evidence of settlement
has also been found at Pevensey (Lyne unpublished).
By 1066 the Sussex landscape was heavily managed
with communities grouped by their environment as well
as political allegiance and no doubt other factors such
as religion. This landscape like every person and object
in it developed over time with its own biography and
had meaning and perceptions endowed upon it. Whilst
looking at one class of artefact, pottery, is somewhat
restrictive, it is the only artefact commonly occurring on
every site and its nature is such that it can be involved
in a number of practices related to a number of spheres
of interaction. Pottery production and use are also
experiential processes involving a number of interactions
with the material and the object in which meaning and
perception are developed (Ingold 2000/2004, 251), just
as they are we analyse an archaeological assemblage
(Holtorf, 2002, 60).
The pottery from these sites is fairly similar to the
untrained eye. The majority of vessels are sagging jars,
tempered with int and unevenly red. On closer
inspection however the practices behind them are
variable. I shall focus here on aspects of manufacture.
This is primarily because ceramic use has yet to be
consistently studied in the area. The focus is necessarily
on the general picture and thus the idiosyncrasies of
individual assemblages will not be discussed.
Identity through pottery manufacture
The pot can be seen as a medium through which a
number of practices can be investigated through the
signatures which they leave. Not all of the practices
which have taken place in the pots biography will be
visible and their full implications cannot necessarily
be understood. We can begin to reconstruct the role
the pot played in the particular social context. The
context of manufacture was probably one of household
or small workshop production (Hodges 1980, 98).
In many cases the dating evidence is sparse and
insecure however it seems that the Norman Conquest
does not have a major or immediate impact on ceramics.
In Chichester the general methods of ceramic
manufacture continue into the 12th century although
at a different production site (Down 1978, 353). Similar
continuity is exhibited in a recent assemblage from
Lewes (Luke Barber, pers comm).
Resource procurement
At all of the sites in Sussex clay and temper were
collected locally (Table 2). This is probably related to
a need to t in with other economic activities which
were probably more important (Arnold 1985, 99108).
It is unclear at what time of year resource procurement
occurred, although if we assume material from north
of the Downs was brought by boat down the rivers
Ouse and Adur to Botolphs and Bishopstone it would
be reasonable to suggest that these trips may have had
a secondary purpose, possibly linked to the movement
of iron resources from the Weald or the movement of
an agricultural surplus.
Local resources were used in both the Early and Late
Saxon periods but there were some signicant changes in
distinct areas. Whilst in some places new resources were
utilised in others they were not. I would suggest that this
is potentially linked to a changing relationship with the
landscape, at least in the case of Bishopstone (Table 2).
Settlement shift may have altered peoples understanding
and perception of their landscape through the way they
acted within and created it through practice. This may
have led to its resources being utilised in a different
manner. This may not have been the case, such as at
Botolphs, where there was more stability in the position
of the settlement (Gardiner 1990, 240). The individuals
stable perception of their place in the landscape is
perhaps reected in the consistency in the clay resources
utilised. The choice was not necessarily governed by
utilitarian factors but by a wider understanding of clay
in the landscape, brought about through the potters
socialisation (cf Blinkhorn 1997, 119). At Chichester
there is a further change. In the 8th9th centuries a
range of clay resources were used from around the city
but the development of the Chapel Street industry in the
10th century caused signicant changes in the pottery
production process. The Eocene clays found in the
Chichester Channel were exclusively used by potters
operating within this industry. On this basis it can be
suggested that this resource was controlled. This may
have acted to reinforce Chichesters place as an urban
Table 1
General outline of activities at three Saxon sites in Sussex based on the archaeological and historical evidence
After Gardiner 2003 and Down 1981
Bishopstone (Rookery Hill) Botolphs Chichester
hunting of deer hunting of deer weaving (loomweights)
f ishing (particularly eel and whiting, also shell fish) ?salt production defensive role (particularly important
during spring and summer)
agricultural processing (quern stones) administration and mint
pottery production pottery production
Ben Jervis 4
entity, controlling the surrounding landscape. Access
to this controlled resource may also have allowed a
particular group of potters to become perceived as
full time artisans, rather than part time craftsmen
(Jervis 2007).
Fashioning
During the fashioning of pots the potter has a dialectic
relationship with his material, experiencing and reacting
to changes to form the object (Ingold 2000/2004, 251).
A number of ethnographic studies have demonstrated
that the skills required to manipulate the material take a
long time to acquire and are heavily linked to the history
of the potter and his interactions with pots and other
potters (eg Roux 1989). The repertoire of Saxon potters
was quite limited, the majority of vessels made were
simple sagging jars (Figures 2 and 3). Over time there
was a change from inverted and straight rims to more
sharply everted rims (Lyne unpub. 386; Gardiner 1990,
246; 252; Bell 1977, 279; Jervis forthcoming). There is
also an introduction of the tournette for nishing
pottery and these everted rims gradually become squarer
(Gardiner 1990, 253). The introduction of the tournette
may also have facilitated the production of larger vessels
(Jervis 2007). Further variability is exhibited in the
assemblage at Chichester where larger vessels such
as pitchers were produced as well as large platters
(Down 1981, 18491). Pitchers occur in the highest
numbers in urban contexts, although are also present
at Pevensey and Bishopstone. Their chalk tempered
fabric marks them out from the majority of vessels
which are tempered with int. Whilst these vessels
conform to a wider tradition stretching as far north
as the Thames Valley, the purpose of these vessels is
unclear. Their presence may however mark some change
in consumption practices or the development of a new
form of food or drink preparation (cf Down 1981, 190).
Both of these vessels types often exhibit pie crusted rims.
I would suggest that this change in fashioning practice
is primarily related to changes in use practice rather
than an increased understanding of clays potential. The
pie crusting could be related to a change in the scale of
manufacture to a small workshop (Down 1981, 1901)
and be an overt statement of individuality by potters
working in Chichester. These changes in practice are
difcult to interpret. Dramatic changes in forming
technique, such as the adoption of the wheel generally
occur over long periods of time and are heavily grounded
in social relations, particularly learning networks. The
changes which occurred here are not hugely dramatic
but it is unclear whether they would be noticed or
understood by non-potters (Gosselain 2000, 248).
Pottery forming techniques were fairly stable and this
could be due to the demand being for vessels which
were required, but also reproduce, stable patterns of
consumption. New forming techniques and forms
were only introduced when the requirements for pottery
changed, due to changes in use. It is reasonable to suggest
that these developments operate on two levels, at the
level of wider regional identity based on the supercial
but widespread changes in form but also at a more
localised level of potting groups based on the gradual
change in techniques, the objectication of the develop-
ment of potting skills, such as the use of the turntable.
Decoration
The majority of the pottery is undecorated meaning
this most common of indicators of stylistic groups and
cultural identities is not fully open to us. Where there
is decoration it is focussed on Early Saxon pottery and
is primarily in the form of stamps. The motifs of these
stamps form part of a decorative network, appearing
on other forms of material culture. A tradition of
burnishing the exterior and the inside of the rim occurs
on Early Saxon and small amount of Late Saxon
material from the Adur Valley (Gardiner 1993, 41).
Table 2
The primary clay source and its distance from the site for selected sites in Sussex. Italic text indicates thin sectioning has been carried out
After Jervis forthcoming a and b, Bell, 1977, Gardiner 1990, Gardiner 1993, Foster 1982, Down and Welch 1990, Chadwick 2006,
Surtermeister 1974
site period primary clay source exploited approximate distance from site
Bourne Valley (Eastbourne) Late Saxon Weald 2 miles
Rookery Hill Early Saxon Weald 10 miles (up river)
Bishopstone Late Saxon clay with f lints and London Clay 1 mile
Botolphs Early and Late Saxon Weald 5 miles (up river)
Steyning Late Saxon Weald 5 miles (up river)
Chichester Late Saxon London/ Reading Clay 1 mile
and brickearth deposits
North Marden Early Saxon London/ Reading Clay 4 miles or on site
and Apple Down Cemetery or clay with f lints
Westhampnett Early Saxon London/Reading Clay 1 mile
or clay with f lints
Burpham Late Saxon clay with f lints 1 mile
5 Pottery and identity in Saxon Sussex
Figure 2
Examples of Early Saxon Pottery from Botolphs, West Sussex
Scale 1:4. Redrawn from Gardiner 1990, figure 18
In West Sussex and into Hampshire stamping continues
into the Late Saxon period, possibly due to the inuence
of continental imports (Cunliffe 1974). In the east stick-
end decoration is more common (Figure 4). The distinct
zones of use of these decorative forms may indicate
some divide between east and west but the presence
of this decorative form in the Adur Valley and at
Chichester emphasise that any barrier was permeable
and that inuences continued to ow across the coastal
plain. Thumb impressions are a Late Saxon development
and occur across Sussex. They are most prominent in
Chichester and Steyning and may be indicative of
particular workshops, or of a desire to identify
with potters from other urban centres where similar
decoration was used. This may also have acted to
create a divide between urban and rural, although
thumb impressions are present, albeit in smaller
quantities, at rural settlements. Highly visible changes
of this type have been dened as being related to the
more temporary and situational facets of identity such
as economic pressures (Gosselain 2000, 189). Decoration
is a strong indicator of the tension between local
interaction and wider interaction and control, both
with the rest of Southern England and the rest of
Sussex. Detailed study of motifs may enable further
understandings of these levels of interaction and
their longevity.
Firing
Firing is a crucial practice in pottery manufacture.
It is also the result of the most complex system of
relational practices. Firing requires an understanding
by the potter of the way his materials react to the ring
process. The production of the clamp kiln requires
interaction between potters and landscapes and other
people; picking appropriate fuel, placing the kiln in
an appropriate place and so forth. All of the pottery
was produced in simple bonre or clamp kilns, one
of these has been found in Chichester and is believed
to date from the 10th century (see Down 1981, 1901
and Gardiner 1990, 251 for a discussion of date). A
signicant change in ring technique occurs, most
notably in Chichester but also at Botolphs and to a
lesser extent at Bishopstone and Pevensey. This is
the introduction of oxidising conditions causing the
Figure 3
Examples of Late Saxon pottery from Bishopstone, East Sussex Drawing Penny Copeland
Ben Jervis 6
pottery to have an orange or red surface rather than a
black one. This practice requires a greater amount of
control over ring if it is intentional, or can be the result
of a lack of control. It seems to be a purposeful strategy
at Chichester where the vast majority of pottery is
oxidised (Down 1978, 347). Where it is present in lesser
quantities it is unclear why it occurs. It is however a Late
Saxon development and as such can be seen to be linked
to the introduction of the turntable and a greater
amount of skill and effort being placed into pottery
manufacture.
The development of oxidation at Chichester can
be seen separately to the developments elsewhere,
with distinct practices causing the development of an
increasingly distinctive urban identity, producing pottery
distinct from that used in the surrounding area. This
may have been appreciated by non-potters but also
appreciated in a more personal and, for want of a better
phrase, professional manner by potters, making them
distinct from the household potters producing reduced
wares (see Saunders, 2000 for a more general discussion
of this phenomena). Oxidation was quickly adopted at
Steyning (Gardiner 2003) but in more rural areas, such
as at Bishopstone, it appears to have developed more
slowly, re-enforcing the concept of the urban as
differentiated from the rural. This change in technical
process, linked to an increased level of skill and under-
standing, can tentatively be suggested to represent
a change in the intended biography of pottery, no
longer is it intimately linked to the community which
manufactured it, it is made in a workshop for sale and
commodisation. Any meaning erodes away and is
gradually consumed with new meaning manifesting
itself over time (cf Kopytoff 1986, 73).
Summary
Identities are created and reproduced through the
participation of individuals in recurring practices.
Only some of the ways people perceive themselves are
relevant to pottery manufacture. Resource procurement
acted to reproduce peoples perceptions of themselves
within a landscape, and to locate themselves and their
activities within changing patterns of agricultural and
settlement activity. Wider similarity in pottery use
practices is illustrated through the wide general
homogeneity in pottery form, perhaps suggesting
that people perceived others as living in a similar way
to them, albeit in a different landscape. The continuity
of vessel forms acts to emphasise the way people use
material culture in practices which maintain structure
their social system, and how this system acts to
reproduce the requirements for specic vessels for
specic functions. The practices used to produce
these vessels may have varied locally but this cannot
be perceived from the archaeological record. The use of
the turntable may be linked to wider economic pressures
requiring larger vessels which was felt over the entire
area. The development of oxidation ring may be linked
to the development of craft specialisation, through an
increasing understanding of the materials behaviour,
which possibly also grew out of changing economic
conditions, particularly the development of more
intensive urban living. It also serves to create a
distinction between those living on urban sites
and the rural population. Decoration is possibly
the most subtle indicator of the tension between
localised and wider levels of interaction, both
within and between settlements.
Conclusions
Different practices lead to identity becoming objectied
at different levels. Clay procurement can be argued to be
deeply embedded in a groups habitus (Bourdieu 1977,
73), its second nature. This in turn allows strategies to
become embedded in yearly cycles linked to agriculture
Figure 4
Distribution of decorative forms in Sussex
After Cunf lif fe 1974 and Barton 1979. Copyright Ben Jervis. Drawing Ben Jervis
7 Pottery and identity in Saxon Sussex
and other economic activities. Forming practices relate
more intimately to small groups of potters and the
reproduction of their learning networks. Supercial
changes in form, as with changes in decoration are
perhaps more illustrative of the ckle, situational
aspects of identity. Firing, like forming, requires a high
level of understanding and thus the increasing regularity
in ring perhaps suggests the development of more craft
specialists, supported by the increasing repertoire of
vessels being produced. Ethnoarchaeological work in a
number of environments suggest skills such as these
develop where craft specialisation is more prevalent
(Rice 1991, 268). The fuel resources required for ring
also tie it into wider cycles of agriculture and landscape
management meaning it to acts to reproduce various
inter personal and person/landscape/object relationships
and perceptions.
Through pottery it can be argued that people
generally perceived themselves as members of local
and regional communities. These scales are more subtle
than this however, linked to practices and interactions
which occurred at these scales. The local level is based
on communal histories in the landscape, localised
practices based on the subsistence strategies and
cemented by new formalised groupings. The regional
level is perhaps linked to a common heritage, a common
way of living and increasing economic and political
interactions. These ideas of community are relational
in themselves and although practices may be widely
seen as signify-ing community, the values attached to
them will vary depending upon individual relationships.
This is not the whole story of identity. By looking at
practice I have shown that different aspects of pottery
manufacture relate to different spheres of perception
and thus to different levels and scales of identity of both
potters and non-potters. These practices both build new
identities, cause older ones to dissolve and reproduce
present ones. I have merely shown therefore that identity
is present at a number of scales, is not static and is
plural. It is highly contextual relying on interactions
between people and pots but also between people
and other items of material culture as well as with
the landscape.
Acknowlegements
This paper began life as an undergraduate dissertation
at the University of Exeter supervised by Howard
Williams whose support and guidance I am extremely
grateful for. I would also like to thank Duncan Brown
and Gabor Thomas for the opportunity to work with
the Bishopstone material, the staff of Worthing and
Chichester museums for allowing access to collections
and Mark Gardiner for discussions about the Adur
Valley assemblages. Trips to Worthing and Chichester
museum were funded by the University of Exeters Fox
Lawrence Fund.
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Zusammenfassung
Diese Arbeit erforscht die Wege, in denen Tpferwaren-
herstellung dazu diente, im schsischen Sussex Gefhle
der Identitt zu schaffen und zu unterhalten. Das
Konzept der Identitt wird skizziert bevor die Archologie
im schsischen Sussex vorgestellt wird. Eine auf der
Praxis beruhende Annherung an Tpferwarenher-
stellung soll dann die Wege erforschen, in denen die
Tpferwarenherstellung die Menschen dazu anhielt,
sich selber in Beziehung zur Landschaft, zueinander
und zur Tpferware zu verstehen.
Rsum
Cet article explore les moyens par lesquels la production
de poterie a permis de crer et de maintenir un sentiment
didentit en Sussex Saxon. Cet article passe brivement
en revue le concept didentit et prsente une introduction
gnrale sur larchologie du Sussex Saxon. Une approche
pratique des mcanismes de production de cramique
est propose afin dexplorer comment cette production a
pu inuencer la manire dont les hommes se percevaient
les uns les autres et apprhendaient leur environnement
et la cramique.
Conventual pottery in Sarzana (eastern Liguria)
between the Middle Ages and the early Modern age
A comparison between documentary and archaeological sources
Summary
In Liguria, the archaeological methodology applied
in the excavation of monastery sites, both male and
female, poses significant problems involving integration
and comparison within what is certainly a more complex
framework that emerges from the documentary sources.
Obviously, these sources refer to specific meanings for
particular objects and, at the same time, describe the
presence of entire categories of products that, for
preservation reasons, are rarely or never included in the
excavation documentation. The analysis of the objects
Introduction
The pottery presented in this contribution represents the
most numerous type of manufactured objects coming
from the excavations in Sarzana, a town located in the
extreme eastern part of Liguria (Figure 1), from Piazza
Garibaldi, Via Mazzini (Figure 2) and adjacent streets
(Frondoni et al 2000, 107108), an area occupied in
medieval times by the convent of S. Domenico and later
by that of the Franciscan nuns of St Chiara (de Vingo
2001, 183184).
The materials are in an excellent state of preservation,
even if fragmented. Owing to the quality of the nds,
the nature of their context and the methodology
adopted during the excavation, the materials can be
analysed while focusing on various objectives: to
improve the chronology of conventual pottery, to
analyse its circulation in a Ligurian town of medium
size and importance, and to understand the ways in
which a specic social nucleus received supplies during
a very complex historical-political period.
This last aspect is of particular importance because
it enables us to delve even further into those mechanisms
and economic-cultural processes that would seem
to dene the material culture of the monastic
communities, both male and female and, naturally, to
compare them. This will gradually lead us away from
what is essentially or exclusively a taxonomic approach
and permit us to reconstruct signicant relationships
between the consumption of pottery and its socio-
economic contexts. However, owing to the incomplete
nature of the excavations and the discovery of a
relatively small quantity of material, we cannot reach
Paolo de Vingo
providing evidence of the communal behaviour in
relation to usage and individual ownership of the
material culture, so elaborate from written sources,
must be limited solely to ceramic pieces. In this paper
the author intends on examining such materials in
order to reconstruct the economic trends in the religious
communities, to determine the supply sources and
therefore, through pottery objects, to propose a social
and not just an archaeological interpretation of the
religious context.
9
* SAAST Department . University of Turin
*
Figure 1
Western Liguria, showing the location of Sarzana on the
margins of the Ligurian territory
those absolute and quantitative conclusions that have
been hypothesised instead by the documentary sources
but cannot be veried directly on the basis of our
current knowledge.
In recent years in the archaeological literature, and in
pottery studies in general, the denitions of conventual
or monastic pottery have appeared together with
that of religious pottery, but in a sporadic and less
distinctive manner. These denitions indicate all the
pottery items that because of formal components or
decorative motifs or owing to the location of the nds
can be linked directly to convents or monasteries. The
potential of this vocabulary is however rather vague
and at times imprecise, and in any case has been used
to dene categories of products that are often quite
diverse. On the basis of these considerations it will
be necessary, therefore, to elucidate what exactly is
intended by this denition, whether its usage has
been more or less improper, and when and under
what circumstances it might still be useful to employ
the term conventual pottery (Gelichi 1998, 107).
The rst use of the term is the traditional one, ie to
indicate manufactured objects that document religious
subjects through diverse iconography. The presence of
decorations that refer to the themes of the Passion or to
depictions of saints and others who have been beatied
does not appear to dene specic social environments,
not even after 1500, a period that underwent a generalised
religiousization of the motifs on majolica and grafta
pottery (Nepoti 1991, 139). Moreover, pottery acquired
by monasteries and convents was not always and not
everywhere decorated with religious subjects, just like
the secular use of recipients decorated with iconography
of an ecclesiastical nature also should not be excluded.
Therefore, the iconographical component, however
important it may be, does not seem to be able to
exclusively dene a category of products in terms
of their use in the social sphere.
A second use of the denition refers to the location
of the nds: the provenance, and often a certain
homogeneity (Farris 1968, 267), would distinguish them
as conventual. In any event, it is easy to understand
how in this case the use of the term is improper or rather
vague, and completely ineffectual in characterising the
recipients in any specic manner. If instead we intend on
who commissioned the pieces, i.e. containers specically
ordered by a religious institution (Soave et al 1982, 115),
Pottery in convents and conventual pottery
An introduction
10 Paulo de Vingo
Figure 2
Map of Sarzana, indicating the two excavations carried out in 2001, 1 the convent of St Domenico and 2 the monastery of
the Clarisse
then we must explain how the phenomenon is linked
to secular realms and vice versa how it is not always
present in ecclesiastical areas. This occurs rather
frequently in those cases involving objects found
without any particular markings that might indicate
ownership or possession, such as monograms, family
crests or coats of arms.
A third possible use of this terminology can be
linked to a specic class of products. This refers to
the use proposed by Tiziano Mannoni (Mannoni
1975, types 7172, 9697) for a particular category
of grafta pottery, until recently dened as pavesi
(Mannoni 1968), that because of its particular
decorations but it is important to recall that most
of the subjects are of a religious character and,
obviously, because these types are so frequently found
within monastic environments, have been redened
using this term (Gelichi 1998, 108). In this case it is
important to note the lack of a single provenance or
distribution, as well as the absence of a homogeneity
in terms of the objects style: the objects, in fact, were
produced and distributed in Pavia (Nepoti 1978, 185
188) and more generally throughout Lombardy (Nepoti
1978, 188) and in Liguria (Mannoni 1975, 9697; 53
54; Gardini et al 1994, 5354), where it is not even
clear whether they should be considered exclusively
as imports.
There is little doubt therefore that the conventual
pottery category, regardless of the signicance that has
been attributed to it, does not dene a homogeneous
product class in an unequivocal manner: consequently,
it seems rather futile to dene a very specic pottery
group such as that of the grafta pavesi. Hence, it
might be more useful to attempt to trace the channels
that, over the centuries, have characterised the monastic
supply lines. Perhaps we will not be able to use a term
that has become familiar to us, but at least it may be
possible to begin to reconstruct a phenomenon that
is much more complex than what might have been
expected.
Its obvious that cenobies have particular needs for
which supply models will be different than those in
secular contexts. If anything, because of the numbers
involved, when switching from the generalised use of
individual wood recipients to those in ceramic, the
quantity of individual objects that had to be acquired
notably increased within a short period of time. An
initial problem, that for the moment we are unable to
resolve, is to determine exactly when this transition
phase occurred.
Toward the mid 14th century, for example, there
are very few pottery bowl items recorded in the expense
registers of San Domenico, an important convent in
Savona (while there is still a large number of wooden
bowls). Furthermore, open forms amongst the materials
found in the excavations of the cemetery at the same
convent in the St Domenico district (Ramagli et al 1999,
222) are also rather rare. In the same period another
convent, Saint Francis of Assisi, certainly no less
committed to the vows of poverty, offers, according
to the same type of documentation, what are certainly
more signicant data regarding the purchase of
individual pottery products (Blake 1981, 3031).
It is therefore evident how other motives, more
cultural by nature or involving a simplication of the
supply methods rather than what is strictly a religious
content, piloted and inuenced the behaviour models
which, in the initial phase, were the same as those
utilised by the secular community. It seems, however,
that only from the last quarter of the 14th century the
number of individual pottery recipients increased in
convents as well, as is indicated, amongst other things,
by the nds from the convent of San Domenico in
Bologna (Gelichi 1987; Gelichi 1998, 108), or in Liguria
from St Margherita in Carignano (Milanese 1985, 120)
and St Silvestro, both in Genoa (Pringle 1977, 126130).
The pottery found at the monastic or conventual
complexes of the 14th and a good part of the 15th
century does not seem to have particularly distinctive
formal or gurative features; the reference markets for
quality coated wares (glazed, enamelled, engobed)
would seem basically to be those of the various secular
communities, with a single difference that generated
very important consequences at a quantitative and
often a qualitative level. In fact, it is evident that
when the production of pottery bowls was authorised,
products with similar forms and dimensions were
purchased on a large scale.
A second problem is the lack of documentary
sources that would allow us to refer to commissions.
In fact, even if they existed, we would not have resolved
anything of importance because, despite having this
interesting fact at our disposal, we would still not have
any additional or more precise information about the
characteristics of individual pottery objects. To have
documented instead the morphology and dimensions
of every recipient ordered and purchased, which
obviously vary according to the different production
areas, would permit us to evaluate the number of
individual typologies and their standardisation,
comparing sequences of chronologically homogeneous
nds from convents.
Based on our current state of knowledge, it would
seem irrefutable that grafta pavesi appeared in the
second half of the 15th century. Dened as conventual
grafti, these standardised products also had austere
and simple iconography and, in some cases, a strong
religious element. These factors would seem to exclude
a specic type of user (Gelichi 1998, 108109).
In Tuscany, an initial phase of marking with signs
of ownership engraved after ring under the base of
the container, and homogeneous consignments of
recipients featuring the monogram of the relevant
convent took place immediately prior to this period:
Im referring to the monastery of St Maria in Siena,
where pottery with these characteristics already
appeared in the rst half of the 15th century
(Francovich 1982, 276322).
11 Conventual pottery in Sarzana
In Genoa, small hemispherical or carinated cups
with disc bases and double opposing vertical handles,
subdivided in two types based upon distinct decorative
styles, were unearthed amongst the materials from the
convent of St Silvestro. The rst iconographical subject,
identied as the crucix type, presents the symbols of
the Passion of Christ and has been dated to the second
half of the 15th century, although it might also come
from a slightly earlier period (Pringle 1977, 126128).
In both the examples proposed it should be emphasised
that this is in reference to womens monastic settlements.
From this moment on not only were recipients with
religious symbols and emblems of the relevant convent
appearing with increasing frequency throughout the
peninsula, but also products with monograms of owner-
ship, family crests and, in numerous cases, complete
names. The diffusion of products witha high degree
of personalisation, therefore clearly carried out on
commission, does not imply that we must exclude all
other types of supplies, that can be considered as a more
anonymous category of products, that nonetheless were
also subject to marking or signing (Gelichi 1998, 109).
This phenomenon needs to be examined more
thoroughly, and not necessarily solely in order to
recognise, as is possible, the result of a profound
ideological and religious transformation that must
have inuenced even the most marginal aspects of
the material culture of the period in discussion. It
is not only a question of investigating the eventual
conventuality of certain pottery as much as under-
standing if there were diversied mechanisms that
inuenced the composition of the furnishings of the
different communities: an initial and fundamental level
of comparison should be carried out between the mens
and womens institutions. At this point it might be
possible to verify if the phenomenon developed in
different directions, also because it must be considered
in relation to the most secular forms relating to the
composition of dowries (Gelichi 1998, 109).
A fundamental factor in the economic life of the
monastery and its interaction with the social fabric in
which it was inserted consisted of the institution of the
dowry, i.e. the amount in money or in equivalent goods
that the family or other private individuals were obliged
to pay to the convent to cover the costs of maintaining
the novice and eventually the future nun. It should be
remembered that the cost was quite low, and that it was
a small sum compared to that necessary for a wedding,
the reason for which it became a convenient, and
conventional, choice for parents who didnt wish to
subdivide the familys property owing to the marriage
of their daughters (Zarri 1986). The perverse element ]of
this mechanism was acknowledged on diverse occasions
by the religious authorities and achieved its most
extreme expression, in human and personal terms,
between the late Middle Ages and the early Modern
Age, when enrolment in the convents was normal
also for girls with relatives already installed as nuns.
The dowries contemplated various types of emolu-
ments to maintain the woman who would become a
nun. In addition to cash, it was also expected that the
family would provide a set of furniture that could vary
notably in size. In the course of the 16th century, also
due to the economic reconstruction necessitated by the
tridentine normatives against the poverty of the nuns
and the desire to make monasteries economically self-
sufcient, the dowry price was notably increased, to the
point that it was very difcult to undertake the monastic
life for those without substantial nancial backing. In
the documentary sources relative to the monastery of
the Clarisse in Sarzana, starting from the mid 1500s, the
dowry was increased from ve hundred to a thousand
lire to sums of between four to six thousand lire in the
mid 1600s.
The women welcomed into the convents with various
levels of insertion came from families of diverse social
standing, but in general in those urban institutions of
greater prestige the relatives of the richest families
entered at the highest levels. This difference in economic
means is often reected in the extraordinary quantity
of objects that might be needed in everyday life often
conducted at a qualitatively high level which were
consequently included in the dowry. And yet, under the
inuence of the council of Trento, the prescriptions of
the late fteen hundreds envisaged a truly minimal
number of personal objects, which focused almost
exclusively on bed sheets and the personal clothing
essential for hygienic reasons. Everything that was
forbidden money, gifts, vegetable or animal products
was placed in the communal coffers, with the single
exception of the things necessary for the cell. However,
the real situation implied by the dowry lists is often
much richer and extensive than what might have been
expected. Even though the expression things necessary
for the cell remained rather imprecise, the infractions
must have been very frequent and quite signicant.
Besides pictures and other devotional objects, this
denition included furniture and handicraft tools, in
particular cloth and all that was needed for sewing, a
very common activity amongst the nuns. Certainly less
essential were ne clothes and jewellery, cutlery made of
precious metals and various undened extravagances.
In any case, it is difcult to assess what might have
been the real value of the dowry lists and in particular
of those very numerous examples dating from the rst
half of the 17th century considered a primary source for
understanding the true entity of these patrimonies. This
is because they seem to lack generalised information
regarding what the nuns in the convents owned, apart
from some interesting exceptions.
For example, in one of the few complete nancial
balances carried out inside a monastic community,
the property of all the nuns of the Clarisse convent
12 Paulo de Vingo
Dowries in womens monasteries
between the 16th and 17th centuries
these two components are perfectly harmonised.
The technical interpretation of these objects and their
potential stylistic comparison, that should permit a
specic and non-generalised chronological analysis,
can be found directly in Liguria, where this type of
pottery is very common, and not only in Genoa, in the
monastery of St Maria in Passione (Gardini et al 1982,
66) and of St Margherita in Carignano (Milanese 1985,
46), in SS Concezione (Farris et al 1971, 130131) and in
that of the Santissima Annunziata in Levanto (Gardini
1993, 143144). Such pottery is also found in the urban
centres of the adjacent western Liguria, in Albisola
(Bernat et al 1986, 133137), in Savona (Ramagli 1996,
60) and in Albenga (Gardini et al 1994, 53).
It can be suggested that the initial production phase
began in the second half of the 1400s, based on the
dates that emerged from an analysis of the materials
found in the excavations of the church of St Silvestro,
on the castle hill of the Ligurian provincial capital
(Gardini et al 1997, 309) and in contexts immediately
following the foundation of the womens Dominican
monastery of the Corpo di Cristo (Benente et al 1994,
53), the building that from 1452 replaced the previous
Episcopal residence (Gardini 1996, 167). The icono-
graphical repertory is rather varied and reproduces,
using both simple and complex compositions, the
traditional elements of the Christian faith, often with
a deliberately symbolic intention, in which references to
episodes of the New Testament are quite evident. In fact
a basic motif appears, that of the centrally placed cross,
reproduced on bowls, cups, hemispherical cups and
drinking asks with a spherical body, in all possible
variations: surmounted by a Christian ornamental
inscription and accompanied by three nails symbols of
the Passion; with the base of the cross resting on three
bridges that represent the Calvary; with the insertion of
the crown of thorns, drops of blood gushing from the
side arms of the cross, a stylised skull at the base of the
cross, a ladder symbolising the deposition and nally a
chalice surmounted by the Host (Pringle 1977, 126128;
Benente et al. 1994, 5455).
Amongst the materials from St Silvestro in Genoa the
depictions of men and women are less frequent (Pringle
1977, 128131) and, in any case, are not casual nds.
While the preceding decorative themes, without
diminishing their quality, are not to be linked to specic
types of production, because they were distinctive of
the generalised purchases by institutes and religious
organisations, the representation of the complete gure
of personages corresponds to much more precise criteria
and intentions. In fact, they depict founders of orders
and therefore do not have a symbolic value, but a much
deeper signicance, because they conveyed descent and
memory and would have had a much more dynamic
effect upon communal life: in this sense they were
carriers of ideas and subject matter. One of these
pottery pieces decorated with a female iconographic
motif, comes from the collective burial in a crypt of the
church of St Silvestro, and is to be considered a personal
Conventual pottery in Sarzana 13
in Sarzana was registered in 1570. The nuns waived their
rights to said property but requested to retain the right
to use it in order to provide for their daily needs. From
all this it appears evident that the retained effects
consisted mainly of what was strictly necessary to live
in a dignied manner, except for a few cases of manifest
wealth. The nuns had at their disposal clothing, bed-
sheets, furniture, metal cauldrons for cooking food or
for washing garments, lanterns, rosaries and holy
books, rarely paintings or products of high artistic
quality, while personal plates, cutlery or cooking
implements are never mentioned. This situation seems
to only partially match other documented cases that
are never based upon such extensive documentation
of the available assets in particular with regard to the
poverty or the scarce consideration for the table service.
It is a fact that can probably be attributed to the
precociousness of the form that was previously seen,
under the initial impulse of the conciliatory years.
We should also not ignore the differences between the
various convents that attracted women belonging to
very different social strata.
In the second half of the seventeenth century
the nuns in Sarzana also seemed to have an internal
economy reduced to the most essential items, in which
debts were established only with the coppersmith, the
lantern maker, the tinker and the vase maker, to remain
within the sphere of estimated costs for non-food items.
This leaves us with an image of their daily life in which
there was room only for the most essential things, a
situation probably falsied by the different methods
of purchasing other items, including pottery.
The pottery
The pottery items presented in this paper consist of two
bowls made in tawny monochrome, without variations
in colour shades, with a compact and uniform earthen-
ware glaze decorated with double engravings on the
surfaces: internally with distinct human gures, in a
full prole, depicting two individuals, one male the
other female, both portrayed in religious habits, and
externally with a kind of motif of equidistant radial
lines originating from the upper prole of the disc base.
On the basis of iconographical comparisons, the two
personages (Figure 3) can be provisionally identied as
St Domenico and St Chiara (de Vingo 2001, 183184).
In fact, in Sarzana it is no coincidence that from the
beginning of the 1300s two different religious settle-
ments appear, traceable to those of the Dominican friars
and the Franciscan nuns of St Chiara (Bonatti 1988,
121137). The materials found in Sarzana that can
be linked to the products forming the communal
endowment of the religious institute are expressions
of a rened technological culture (Morra 1996, 173
176). Thats because the stylistic level of the gures
represented presupposes advanced creative ability,
considering the artistic result of the product in which
object, that belonged to one of the nuns, who was
probably killed by the plague of 16561657 (Presotto
1965, 370420). The materials found in Sarzana can
be linked to this same example, because they share
the same cultural motives, morphology, technological
characteristics and decorative schemes (de Vingo
2001, 186).
Discussion and conclusions
The possibility of applying archaeological methods to
conventual contexts, both male and female, generates
signicant problems of integration and comparison
with the situation, certainly more variable, reported
by the archival sources. These, as it is obvious that they
should be, refer to specic signicances for determined
objects and, at the same time, describe the presence of
entire categories of objects that, for reasons of
preservation, rarely or never appear in the data
registered from excavations (Gelichi et al. 1998, 136).
The examination of the objects that provide evidence of
community behaviours, in relation to the consumption
and the individual properties that together make up the
material culture, so variable in the written sources,
must be restricted to the pottery. These are the only
objects consistently present and in sufcient quantities
in archaeological deposits. Their representativeness
permits us to reconstruct how they were used in an
individual community and, at the same time, to
compare those objects with the materials from other
contexts. It should be recalled however that, from this
point of view, there are still only limited conventual
contexts in which a complex and lasting sequence,
with a discussion of quantitative production indices, is
available for study. Usually, the conventual pottery, when
Figure 3
Conventual pottery originating from the context of
1 St Domenico and 2 the monastery of the Clarisse
14 Paulo de Vingo
it is recognised, ends up being analysed exclusively
at a typological level based on what is indubitably a
legitimate approach but of little use, however, for
understanding the mechanisms through which such
contexts were formed within a specic social nucleus.
Basically, in this situation, one reproduces and amplies
a social approach to the history of production and
the usage of post-classical pottery that, in general,
has always characterised, in a negative sense, our
study methods.
With the aim of formulating a hypothesis concern-
ing the formation of these pottery centres, it would be
useful to restate some of the considerations that were
formulated earlier with regard to the pottery present
in convents, to identify those product categories that
inuenced their supply over time and in relation to
other social contexts (Gelichi et al 1998, 136).
.
Undifferentiated pottery, of daily use also in secular
contexts. The only items present up to the mid 15th
century, they are continually found in considerable
numbers even in the modern era.
.
Pottery decorated with subjects of a religious nature
or generalised iconography, such as the cross, symbols
of the Passion, the lamb, the chalice or the trigram
IHS of St Bernardino of Siena. These are all objects
present with some continuity within monastic
contexts in the Po Valley area, between the 15th and
the 19th centuries. Sometimes they are also present
with the same characters in secular contexts.
.
Pottery with markings relative to monasteries or
portraits of specic saints. In this case the nds are
concentrated between the 15th and the 16th centuries.
.
Undifferentiated pottery, typical also of secular
contexts, featuring monograms engraved on the piece
after purchase.
.
Pottery produced ad personam, featuring monograms,
names, family crests with monograms or dates. This
phenomenon seems to develop mainly during the
1600s.
.
Pottery with monograms related to their place of
use cellars, kitchens, refectories, inrmaries, or at
the table soup plates, salad bowls some of which,
however, are not exclusive to religious contexts.
Based on the published examples of Ligurian monastic
contexts we can suggest that the mens monasteries
utilised almost exclusively materials from the rst three
groups. Besides the current types of pottery, the
excavation of St Domenico in Savona, for example, has
produced only shards with the monogram SD, with the
trigram IHS or with dates associated to symbols.
In contrast with the womens convents, the previously
described categories almost always appear together with
the exclusion (or at least in a truly modest quantity) of
pottery with monograms engraved on the piece, or items
specially produced with engravings that allow them to
be easily and immediately identied. The production
of pieces with a specic iconographic scheme, therefore,
seems to receive a signicant impulse during the
same 25 years in which the Council of Trento began
its work. Therefore, if on the one hand the praxis can
be considered the result of a different type of pressure,
in that a certain level of personalization was already
present in the late fteenth century, on the other it can
be said that successively diversied needs and tastes
came together (Gelichi et al 1998, 137).
Lets attempt to summarise: the general framework
of the nds from womens convents in Liguria is, after
the mid 16th century, certainly more complex. Such
complexity is, in my opinion, clearly linked to the diverse
methods for supplying materials, also considering how
inuential and determinant the institution of the dowry
has been shown to be. A preliminary and incomplete
verication of the written sources has revealed how
common in the womens monasteries was the practise of
donating large quantities of those objects that exceeded
the needs of the individual. These consistent donations
of materials by the sore morte (literally the deceased
sisters), periodically provided an indispensable support
for sustaining the community. Amongst these donations
there are also indications that refer explicitly to the
presence of pottery.
Communal purchases of recipients must have been
made in rather modest quantities because the needs of
the womens convents were to a great extent probably
already satised by the dowry gifts. In the Ligurian
territory pottery personalised for private use (before or
after the purchase) would not seem to be very common,
but in particular there is a signicant amount of pottery
personalised for community use that becomes part of
the dowry given to the convent together with the novice.
Despite the fact that the study of this phenomenon is
only in the early stages and more complete and precise
archaeological data are not yet available, documents do
exist (and in the process of being transcribed) that
provide evidence of the purchase of numerous quantities
of pottery for use in communal life and brought to the
monastery with the individual nuns in the form of a
dowry, and naturally in such large quantities that a
strictly personal use can, to all intents and purposes,
be excluded (Gelichi et al 1998, 138).
When the doctrinal religious reforms began to bring
back within the limits of the communal life what was
previously a complex social panorama within each
individual convent, one notes the development of a
countertrend that attempted to facilitate the recovery
of personal donations. This countertrend was conned
to the womens monasteries, where the situation could
be interpreted as a clear response by the family which
obviously had an interest in maintaining the differenti-
ation within the monastic structure and by the same
nuns whose duty it was to carry forward such interests
and privileges. If the available archaeological data has
been interpreted correctly this phenomenon had already
begun during the Council of Trento and it is likely that
it was affected by the rst practical results of the Reform
initiated at the beginning of the sixteenth century.
Conventual pottery in Sarzana 15
Acknowledgements
The materials presented in this contribution come
from the excavations carried out by the Department
of Archaeological Heritage of Liguria in Sarzana
between 1990 and 2001, directed by Alessandra
Frondoni, Archaeologist Director Coordinator with
the same Department. The archaeological research
was entrusted to the Societ Lombarda di Archeologia
(SLA) under the operative responsibility of Fabrizio
Geltrudini. My sincere thanks go to Alessandra Frondoni
for authorising the presentation of the data on this
occasion, while I am indebted to Fabrizio Geltrudini
for his considerations regarding the particular problems
relating to his excavations in Sarzana. Rossana Managlia
created the drawings of the materials presented here,
while Tatiana Sidoti was responsible for the initial
cleaning of the objects.
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1986, Lo scavo della fornace Giacchino (Albisola
Superiore AugustSeptember 1983). Parte I La
ceramica grafta, Atti del Convegno Internazionale
della Ceramica, XIX, Albisola, 131154.
Blake, H 1981, La ceramica medioevale di Assisi,
Ceramiche medioevali dellUmbria: Assisi, Orvieto,
Todi, Florence, 1533.
de Vingo, P 2001, I materiali medievali e postmedievali
provenienti dagli scavi urbani, Giornale Storico
della Lunigiana e del territorio lucense, XLIX, 14,
171224.
Farris, G 1968, La maiolica conventuale ligure nei
depositi di scavo, Atti del Convegno Internazionale
della Ceramica, I, 266270.
Farris, G and Rebora, G 1971, Ceramica conventuale
importata a Genova nel XVII secolo (Recenti
rinvenimenti), Atti del Convegno Internazionale
delle Ceramica, IV, Albisola, 129140.
Francovich, R 1982, La ceramica medievale a Siena e
nella Toscana meridionale (secc XIVXV). Materiali
per una tipologia, Florence: AllInsegna Del Giglio.
Frondoni, A and Geltrudini, F 2000, Archeologia urbana
a Sarzana: indagini preventive e demergenza, in G
P Brogiolo (ed), Atti del Congresso Nazionale di
Archeologia Medievale, II, Florence: AllInsegna
Del Giglio, 107113.
Gardini, A 1993, La ceramica del convento della
Santissima Annunziata a Levanto, in P Donati (ed),
Le Arti a Levanto nel XV e XVI secolo, Milan,
143163.
Gardini, A 1996, Piazza della Maddalena. I materiali.
Periodo Medievale, in P Melli (ed), La citt ritrovata.
Archeologia urbana a Genova (19841994), 333339.
Gardini, A and Melli, P and Milanese, M 1982, S Maria
in Passione. Per la storia di un edicio dimenticato
in P Melli (ed), Quaderni, 5, Genoa.
Gardini, A and Benente, F 1994, Ceramica post-
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Internazionale della Ceramica, XXVII, 4772.
Gardini, A and Benente, F 1997, Archeologia
postmedievale in Liguria, in M Milanese (ed),
Archeologia Postmedievale: lesperienza europea e
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Sassari 1720 October 1994, Florence: AllInsegna
Del Giglio, 305328.
Gelichi, S 1987, La ceramica medievale, in S Gelichi
and R Merlo (eds), Archeologia Medievale a Bologna.
Gli scavi nel Convento di San Domenico, Bologna,
182193.
Gelichi, S 1998, La cultura materiale e i monasteri
femminili tra XVI e XVII secolo, in S Gelichi and
M.Librenti (eds), Senza immensa dote. Le Clarisse
a Finale Emilia tra archeologia e storia, Biblioteca
di Archeologia Medievale, 15, Florence: AllInsegna
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Gelichi, S and Librenti, M 1998, Monasteri, cultura
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S Gelichi and M Librenti (eds),Senza immensa dote.
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16 Paulo de Vingo
Zusammenfassung
In Ligurien wirft die archologische Methodik, die
bei der Ausgrabung sowohl mnnlicher als weiblicher
Klster verwendet wird, bedeutende Schwierigkeiten
auf, was die Einbindung und den Vergleich innerhalb
des sicherlich weit komplizierteren Rahmens angeht,
wie er uns aus dokumentren Quellen bekannt ist.
Offensichtlich beziehen sich diese Quellen auf die
besondere Bedeutung bestimmter Gegenstnde,
beschreiben aber gleichzeitig die Existenz ganzer
Produktgruppen, die aus Grnden der Erhaltung selten
oder nie in eine Ausgrabungsdokumentation eingehen.
Die Analyse von Gegenstnden, die Beweismaterial
fr das gesellschaftliche Verhalten in Bezug auf deren
Gebrauch und des persnlichen Eigentums daran liefern,
wie sie so sorgfltig ausgearbeitet in schriftlichen
Quellen erscheint, mu hier allein auf keramische
Stcke begrenzt bleiben.
In diesem Beitrag beabsichtigt der Autor bei der
Untersuchung solcher Materialien die wirtschaftlichen
Entwicklungen in religisen Gemeinschaften zu
rekonstruieren und die Herkunftsquellen zu bestimmen,
das heit durch Tpfereigegenstnde eine soziale und
nicht nur archologische Interpretation des religisen
Zusammenhangs zu geben.
Rsum
En Ligurie les mthodes archologiques utilises lors de
fouille de sites monastiques, pour moines et religieuses,
limitent les possibilits dintgration et de comparaison
avec les donnes recueillies dans les sources crites sur
ces structures complexes. De toute vidence ces sources
parlent de symbolique particulire pour chaque objet
et, en mme temps, dcrivent la prsence de catgories
entires dobjets qui pour des raisons de mauvaise
conservation, sont rarement ou jamais inclues dans le
matriel archologique. Lanalyse du matriel donnant
des informations sur lusage communautaire et la
proprit prive des objets, si labors dans les sources
crites, doit malheureusement se limiter au matriel
cramique. Par cette contribution, lauteur espre
reconstituer les fluctuations conomiques des
communauts religieuses, dterminer les sources
dapprovisionnement et, grce aux objets cramiques
proposer la fois une interprtation archologique et
sociale du milieux religieux.
Conventual pottery in Sarzana 17
Figure 1
Excavation of a wooden staved bucket at Kirk Close in Perth.
Courtesy of SUAT Ltd
What did medieval people eat from?
The differential survival rates of pot and wood give
us difculties in estimating proportions of each in
use during the medieval period. An individual site
can easily yield 30,000 pot sherds and even if there is
a waterlogged pit only a few wooden bowls and perhaps
one fragmentary pewter vessel. Given this tremendous
outnumbering it is easy to overestimate the importance
of pot at the time. The truth is that in an age when all
cooking was done over an open re an old damaged fat
soaked wooden bowl would be the perfect kindling, the
few that were not burnt would rot away unless quickly
buried and continually waterlogged. Damaged or
outdated pewter vessels would be melted down to
make new vessels, compared to this virtually every
pot ever made is still there in the ground.
If we look at medieval accounts we nd that woodware
was purchased in vast quantities, for the wedding of
Richard II in 1189 over 12,000 wooden vessels were
ordered. The Howard household accounts from 1460
1485 include orders for 2,562 wooden vessels, an average
of 100 a year over the 25 year period. In contrast Chris
Dyer looking for records of purchases of pots has never
seen an individual order for more than 24 pots, the norm
being orders for one or two at a time and an average of
about 3 pots per household per year.
In 14312 the household accounts of John de Vere
Earl of Oxford record orders for an unusually large total
of 25 pots (11 for the cellar presumably jugs 10 for the
kitchen) but in the same year they ordered 96 pewter
vessels and 234 wooden cups/bowls. Could three
pots a year give rise to the large pottery assemblages
commonly found on medieval sites or are the pots not
being recorded? Chris Dyer suggests the accounts are
pedantic enough to record everything and the wooden
vessels which are recorded are no higher value (average
two vessels for 1d). Three vessels per year would be
1,500 pots over a 500-year period, if each or these was
broken into 20 sherds we would have 30,000 sherds. If
the same household was ordering 100 wooden vessels a
year then 50,000 wooden vessels would have been used/
burnt/disposed of on the same site over the same period.
Were so few pots ordered because they had a very
long in use lifespan compared to wood? I would be
Robin Wood
19
interested to know of any work suggesting average
lifespans of pots before disposal. The huge numbers
of wooden vessels ordered by medieval households
suggests that they were replaced regularly yet the vessels
that survive commonly show signs of very long use,
wear repair and continued use. Perhaps the large house-
holds were continually replacing their vessels with new
ones and passing them on down the social scale where
they had longer useful lives. One example of this may
be a record of the butler of Prince Edward (the future
Edward V) who was entitled to the worn cups as part
of his pay (Woolgar 1999).
It has been suggested that woodware does not vary
much over time or regionally though it is becoming
clear as more pieces are found that there was as much
variation in wood as pot. There is no doubt if we had
hundreds of thousands of surviving pieces that it would
be possible to identify local styles which changed
through time, so far we have in the region of 1,000
wooden vessels surviving from the medieval period
in Britain and these form only a small part of a
much larger picture. Carole Morris has described
it as the tip of a wooden ice berg. For every vessel
that has ever been found it is likely that 100,000
were produced used and burnt.
The vessel forms do change through time and they
were also used at all levels in society not as just by the
poor. Two of the richest ship burials in Europe Sutton
Hoo and the Oseberg Ship were well equipped with
wooden vessels. From pre-conquest sites in Britain
wooden bowls tend to be fairly small (6" 8" diameter)
hemispherical in form and most commonly made of
alder. Another characteristic pre-conquest form is the
globular drinking cup, most commonly made of maple
and 3" 4" diameter, examples come from Coppergate
York, Winchester and small walnut ones from Sutton
Hoo. After the Norman Conquest this form gradually
gets replaced by drinking bowls, the practice is
commonly seen in medieval illustrations from the
Bayeux Tapestry onwards.
Post conquest bowls tend to be of similar hemi-
spherical form but ash becomes the favourite timber
(Morris 2000). These vessels are commonly referred
Summary
Despite large numbers of pottery fragments occurring
on most medieval excavations including many that are
classied as tableware the proportion of what could
be described as eating vessels is very small. The
predominant forms are jugs, storage and cooking pots.
This paper looks at the production, purchase and use
of wooden eating and drinking vessels and compares
and contrasts this with pottery.
20 Robin Wood
Zusammenfassung
Trotz der groen Anzahl an Tpferscherben, die bei
mittelalterlichen Ausgrabungen vorkommen inklusive
derjenigen, die als Tafelware bezeichnet werden, bleibt
der Anteil dessen, was man als Egefe beschreiben
knnte, gering. Die berwiegenden Formen sind Krge,
Vorrats- und Kochtpfe. Die vorliegende Arbeit
betrachtet die Herstellung, den Kauf und die Benutzung
hlzerner E- und Trinkgefe und vergleicht sie mit
Tpferware und stellt sie dieser gegenber.
Rsum
En dpit du grand nombre de tessons de poterie
retrouvs sur les fouilles de sites du Moyen Age, en
particulier les fragments de poterie classifie comme
vaisselle de table, le pourcentage de cramique que lon
peut dcrire comme vaisselle pour manger est faible.
Les formes prdominantes sont les cruches, la cramique
culinaire et les jattes. Cet article examine et compare
la production, la consommation et l utilisation des
vaisselles de table en bois celles en cramique.
to in medieval accounts as ciphis fraxini, often
translated as ashen cups; it is not clear if they were
primarily eating or drinking vessels or, perhaps most
likely, dual purpose. One thing that is clear is that
they do not have knife cuts in them so whilst they were
probably used for pottage they were not used for meat
or anything that required cutting. Some bowls called
mazers were turned very thin from maple and reserved
as drinking vessels, these sometimes had gilt rim
mounts, excellent examples are on display in the
Museum of Canterbury and the British Museum.
The wooden bowl as the universal drinking
vessel went into decline in the 15th century with the
introduction of pottery drinking jugs and the last large
collection of wooden drinking bowls are from the Mary
Rose 1545. Through he 16th century the wooden dish
became more common, up to this point over 95% of
eating vessels had been bowls which work well for hand
holding and eating pottage. Perhaps the change toward
dishes and latter plates was diet related as all dishes
have knife cuts indicating people were now eating meat
from individual vessels, or perhaps it has more to do
with sitting at a table to eat a practice which became
much more common for ordinary people during the
17th and 18th centuries.
The second half of 17th Century saw a vast increase
in the amount of pottery vessels which I would class as
eating vessels, bowls, dishes and plates. This was the
period when pottery replaced wood as the standard
eating vessel for normal peoples everyday use. It is
interesting that it was also the period when turned
parts became commonplace in furniture and there
was a great increase in furniture production and use,
the turners who for 1,000 years had produced tableware
found a new market in chair legs.
Reference
Woolgar, C M 1999, The Great Household in Late
Medieval England.
A late medieval whiteware from Clarence Street, York
Summary
Excavations at 44 Clarence Street, York, by Antony
Dickson in 2006 produced an unusual late medieval
vessel which could not be precisely paralleled in form
or fabric. It was recommended that analysis of this
vessel was undertaken and the present paper is a result
of that analysis.
Description
Form and manufacture
The vessel is wheelthrown and globular-bodied with a
squared rim, diameter c140mm, and has a rod-sectioned
handle luted to the girth and outer edge of the rim. The
body handle join is strengthened by thumbing on the
interior. The exterior has a glossy pale olive (5Y 7/4)
to olive (5Y 5/4) glaze, which does not extend over the
handle (which suggests that the vessel was dipped in
glaze, holding onto the handle). The glaze colour
suggests local reduction and is probably an indication
that the vessel was red one rather than given a biscuit
ring and then a second glaze ring.
A deliberate ridge or cordon is present on the shoulder
but otherwise the vessel is plain.
At x20 magnication the fabric is seen to be
tempered with moderate quartzose sand grains, well-
sorted and between c 0.5mm and 0.8mm across. The
groundmass is ne-textured, pink (7.5YR 7/4), and
sparse ne mica is visible.
Alan Vince
22
The vessel is identied here as a product of the North
Yorkshire whiteware potteries located on the western
foothills of the Hambleton Hills and appears to have
been a copy of late medieval Low Countries types.
Thin section analysis
The following inclusions were noted in thin section:
Quartz Moderate subangular and rounded grains ranging from
c 0.1mm to 0.8mm. The smaller grains tend to be more angular
and the grains appear to be bimodal, with peaks at c 0.2mm and
c 0.5mm. Some of the grains have a thin brown coating but since
these grains are closest to the original surface of the sherd they
are probably a post-burial inll of the shrinkage gap between the
quartz and groundmass. Some of the grains have one or more
straight edge, indicative of overgrowth with no trace of the original
grain boundary. Most grains are monocrystalline and unstrained but
monocrystalline strained grains and polycrystalline grains occur.
The latter include strained crystals with sutured boundaries and
unstrained mosaic quartz. These features indicate that some of
the grains come from metamorphic rocks.
Clay pellets Sparse inclusionless pellets up to 0.5mm across, slightly
lighter in colour than the groundmass.
Muscovite Rare sheaves up to 0.2mm long.
The groundmass is light brown, optically anisotropic
and contains sparse angular quartz and muscovite.
Chemical analysis
Chemical analysis was undertaken at Royal Holloway
College, London, under the supervision of Dr J N Walsh
using Inductively-Coupled Plasma Spectroscopy. A range
of major elements were measured as percent oxides
(Appendix 1) and a range of minor and trace elements
was measured in parts per million (Appendix 2). Silica
was not measured but was estimated by subtraction of
the total measured oxides from 100%. The data were
then normalised to aluminium.
The features observed in thin section are similar to
those of some Surrey Whiteware vessels (eg Kingston-
type ware Pearce and Vince 1988) as well as to late 12th-
to 13th-century York Glazed ware (Jennings 1992).
Figure 1
Late mediveal whiteware vessel
from 44 Clarence Street, York.
Scale 1: 4
Neither type was in production in the late medieval
period, when this vessel is likely to have been made
and the contemporary late medieval wares are Coarse
Border Ware and Brandsby-type ware.
ICPS data is available for all these wares and a
dataset consisting of production waste from sites in
Surrey and North Yorkshire, and nds from YAT
excavations in York was compared with the Clarence
Street nd.
The Surrey data consists of samples from
Farnborough Hill, Kingston-upon-Thames and
Southwark and the Yorkshire data consists of samples
from the Brandsby kiln excavated by J Le Patourel; a
sample from the Stearsby kiln; possible wasters of York
Glazed ware from Byland Abbey and sherds of a 12th-
century gritty ware recently identied as a North
Yorkshire product contemporary with York Gritty
ware, from a site at Easingwold.
Discussion
The Clarence Street vessel is identied here as a North
Yorkshire, Hambleton Hills, product. However, its form
is clearly late medieval in date and imitative of Low
Countries redware vessels (such as the two-handled,
footed cooking pots (Hurst, Neal, and van Beuningen
1986, Fig 59) or single handled tripod pipkins, Hurst et
al 1986, Fig 60). These Low Countries vessels not only
have the large rod handles found on the Clarence Street
vessel but also the cordon on the shoulder. This feature
is probably itself a skeuomorph of cast copper-alloy
vessels which are also mostly of late medieval date.
The chemical similarity of the Clarence Street vessel
to York Glazed ware and North Yorkshire gritty ware
vessels from Easingwold is probably due to the fact
that all three groups are deliberately tempered with
quartzose sand and that the main discriminating
element is zirconium, which is present mainly in zircon
grains. The sand used to temper these vessels therefore
has a higher zirconium content than the Brandsby and
Stearsby vessels which contain similar quantities of
silica, but from a different source, the parent clay.
The discovery of this vessel requires a reconsideration
of the classication of North Yorkshire medieval
whitewares. On the one hand, the visual similarity
of this vessels fabric to York Glazed ware is conrmed
and this means that undecorated body sherds cannot
be dated more closely that late 12th to late 14th/15th
centuries. On the other hand, York Glazed ware is
actually dened mainly on style and decoration and
it would clearer if fabric and form/style were treated
separately.
Table 1 is an attempt to clarify the products of
the Hambleton Hills Whiteware Industry and includes
waste from Castle Howard, which was recovered from
excavations undertaken by Time Team in 2002 (Vince
2002). Confusingly, the products of the latter industry
are classied as Hambleton ware, but Castle Howard is
actually in the Howardian Hills. It is proposed that the
Clarence Street vessel and similar vessels containing
quartzose sand temper not paralleled at the Brandsby
kiln are classied as Gritty Brandsby-type ware.
Acknowledgements
The author would like to thank Stephen Willows,
Contract Manager, Lintoin Construction, York, for
permission to publish this note.
Figure 2
Factor analysis of this data (omitting mobile elements
calcium, phosphorus, strontium and the rare earth elements)
indicates four main factors and a plot of the factor scores for
the two main factors clearly indicates two clusters, one
consisting of Surrey products and the other North Yorkshire
products which can be subdivided on the basis of the F1 and
F2 scores into an Easingwold group and the rest. The Clarence
Street vessel falls into the Bransby/Byland/Stearsby group.
Figure 3
The Factor 3 scores do not separate any of the groups but
the Factor 4 scores (essentially a reection of zirconium and
cobalt values) separate individual groups within the two main
clusters. This is made clear by including the estimated silica
values, which distinguish the Surrey and North Yorkshire
groups. The diagram shows a plot of estimated silica scores
against F4 scores and in this plot the Clarence Street vessel
plots between the Byland and Easingwold groups.
22 Alan Vince
References
Hurst, J G, Neal, D S, and van Beuningen, H J E (1986)
Pottery Produced and Traded in North-West Europe
13501650. Rotterdam Papers VI Rotterdam,
Museum Boymansvan Beuningen.
Jennings, Sarah (1992) Medieval Pottery in the
Yorkshire Museum. York, The Yorkshire Museum.
Pearce, J E and Vince, A G (1988) A Dated Type-series
A late medieval whiteware from ClarenceStreet, York 21
Zusammenfassung
Ausgrabungen in 44 Clarence Street, York, unter der
Leitung von Antony Dixon im Jahre 2006 brachten
ein ungewhnliches, sptmittelalterliches Gef zutage,
fr das keine genauen Parallelen in Form und Material
vorlagen. Es wurde empfohlen, dieses Gef zu unter-
suchen und die vorliegende Arbeit zeigt das Ergebnis
dieser Untersuchung.
Das Gef wurde als Erzeugnis der Nord-Yorkshire
Weiwaren Tpfereien identifiziert, die in den westlichen
Auslufern der Hableton Hills liegen und scheint eine
Kopie der spt-mittelalterlichen, niederlndischen Art
zu sein.
Rsum
Des fouilles entreprises Clarence Street, York par
Anthony Dickson en 2006 ont rvl une cramique
inhabituelle du Bas Moyen-Age sans quivalent en
matire de forme ou de pte. Une analyse plus pousse
de cette cramique a t demande et les rsultats en
sont prsents ici . Cette cramique provient des centres
de production de North Yorkshire Whiteware situs sur
les contreforts ouest de Hambleton Hills et semble tre
une copie de types des Pays Bas du Bas Moyen-Age.
of London Medieval Pottery: Part 4, Surrey
Whitewares. London Middlesex Archaeol Soc Spec
Pap 10 London, London Middlesex Archaeol Soc.
Vince, Alan (2002) Assessment of the medieval and
later pottery from Castle Howard, North Yorkshire
(CASH02). AVAC Reports 2002/81 Lincoln.
Appendix 1
TSNO Al2O3 Fe2O3 MgO CaO Na2O K2O TiO2 P2O5 MnO
V4510 23.51 3.42 1.04 0.52 0.25 2.35 1.25 0.26 0.015
Appendix 2
TSNO Ba Cr Cu Li Ni Sc Sr V Y Zr* La Ce Nd Sm Eu Dy Yb Pb Zn Co
V4510 398 107 44 115 54 23 95 189 45 102 72 119 75 16 4 8 4 6,184 83 22
Table 1
fabric 12th century Late 12th to 13th century Later 13th to 15th centuries
gritty NYGW (Easingwold) none none
sandy York Glazed (Byland) Gritty Brandsby-type (Clarence Street)
untempered Brandsby-type (Brandsby, Stearsby)
fine white Hambleton (Castle Howard)
Table 1
pottery group reference abbreviation
Normandy White ware this note NORW
Normandy Gritty ware, found at Exeter Hughes forthcoming NORG
Normandy Gritty ware, found at Leith This note Leith NORG
Northern France, found at Boston Vince 2005 NFREM
Northern France; found at Exeter, Southampton, Hughes forthcoming NFRE
Worcester and Dublin McCutcheon 2006
Rouen ware from Bergen, major elements only Deroeux et al 1994 ROUEN
Dublin and Viborg McCutcheon 2006
La Londe ware Vince 2006 ROUEN UGW
Early Glazed Ware from Rouen Vince unpublished ROUEN EGW
Early Glazed Ware from York Vince unpublished EGW
Table 2
element Factor 1 Factor 2 Factor 3
Fe
2
O
3
0.862 0.143 0.119
MgO 0.834 -0.446 0.232
K
2
O 0.655 -0.525 0.405
TiO
2
-0.024 0.622 0.066
Na
2
O 0.108 0.036 0.501
sum of squares 1.879 0.883 0.487
percent of variance 37.6 17.7 9.7
Normandy whitewares from Ronaldsons Wharf,
Leith, Scotland
Samples of two whitewares from Ronaldsons Wharf,
Leith, both putative Normandy products, (Haggarty, G
2006 word le 42),were selected by George Haggarty,
courtesy of John Lawson the City of Edinburgh
Archaeologist. These were studied using Inductively
Coupled Plasma Emission Spectroscopy (ICP-ES)
following on from the recent study of Scottish White
Gritty ware (Jones et al 20023). The rst group
consists of samples identied as Normandy Gritty
ware (NORG) and the second of two samples of a
ne whiteware not previously recognised on sites in
the British Isles but identied by Duncan Brown as
probably a Normandy product, and here given the ware
name Normandy White ware (code: NORW). A range
of major, minor and trace elements were measured, the
rst as percent oxides and the remainder as parts per
million (Appendix 1).
The data were compared with various datasets,
some of which were obtained at the Centre for Ceramic
Research at the University of Caen where only major
elements are measured (Deroeux et al 1994).
Furthermore, it was subsequently realised that the CaO
and P
2
O
5
values for some samples were enhanced (for
example, the base level for calcium oxide was c. 0.3%
and the enhanced samples ranged up to 3.3%), probably
after burial, and therefore the element set was reduced
further to exclude these elements. All the data was
normalised by dividing the measured values by that for
Al
2
O
3
to try and remove the dilution effect brought
about by variations in quartz sand temper.
The comparative data include samples of Rouen
glazed wares, Rouen early glazed wares (10th/11th
century), York Early Glazed Ware (which is probably a
Lower Seine product) and La Londe ware from the kiln
site (immediately south of Rouen on the south side of
the Seine), La Londe ware from consumer sites in the
British Isles (Vince 2006), Normandy Gritty ware from
sites in Exeter (Hughes forthcoming), various other
French and putative French whitewares, as described
in Table 1.
An estimate of silica content was obtained by
subtracting the sum of the major elements from 100%.
This indicated that the two Normandy white samples
at Leith contain substantially less silica than any of
the comparative material, whilst the Leith Normandy
Gritty fabric had a similar silica content to the Exeter
Normandy Gritty ware samples but less than the
remainder of the comparative material (Figure 1). This
is consistent with the appearance of these fabrics at x20
magnication, where the Lower Seine types can be seen
to contain abundant silt-sized quartz.
Alan Vince and Richard Jones
25
Factor analysis was carried out on this dataset
using the WinStat for Excel program (Fitch 2001).
This indicated only one factor with an eigenvalue over 1
(Table 2). The variation in this dataset was therefore the
result, primarily, of uctuations in the contents of MgO
and K
2
O, which are highly correlated, and TiO
2
.
A plot of the F1 scores (dominated by the potassium,
magnesium and iron oxide contents) for this dataset
against those of F2 (eigenvalue 0.6; dominated by
the cerium and lanthanum contents) was produced
(Figure 2). This shows that the Leith samples can be
distinguished from much of the comparanda using a
combination of these two factors. All of the Lower
Seine samples (La Londe ware ROUEN UGW; Early
Figure 1
The silica ranges in the pottery groups from Normandy,
Northern France, Rouen and the test samples from Leith
(see Table 1)
Figure 2
Plot of the rst two factor scores resulting from factor
analysis for the pottery samples in the nine groups shown
26 Alan Vince and Richard Jones
Lower Seine Glazed ware (ROUEN EGW); and medieval
Rouen ware (ROUE) had higher F2 scores, as did the
samples of Early Glazed Ware from York (EGW). It
is therefore clear that neither the Leith Normandy
Gritty ware nor Normandy White ware were lower
Seine products.
The Leith data were then compared with a set
of analyses carried out for Phillippe Husis study of
Western French glazed wares. These analyses, which
were carried out using XRF, did not include lithium,
scandium, neodymium, samarium, europium,
dysprosium, ytterbium, and cobalt. The Exeter
Normandy Gritty ware samples and the La Londe kiln
waste samples were included in this analysis. Factor
analysis revealed 3 factors with eigenvalues over 1
(Table 3).
A plot of the rst two factors (Figure 3) shows that
the Leith samples and the Exeter Normandy Gritty ware
samples tend to have higher F1 scores than the western
French whitewares and La Londe ware (with a few
exceptions). A plot of the rst against the third factor
(Figure 4) separates the La Londe samples from the
remainder. This analysis conrms that the Leith
samples are not western French products.
Finally, the Leith data were compared with samples
of French whitewares from Dublin, Exeter, Southampton
and Boston, all of which were analysed using ICPS and
include data for the same range of elements as the Leith
samples. Four factors with eigenvalues over 1 were
found (Table4).
A plot of F1 against F2 for this data (Figure 5) shows
that the Exeter Normandy Gritty ware samples have
higher F2 scores, whilst the Southampton whiteware
samples and those from Dublin have similar F1 and
F2 scores. However, a plot of the F3 against F4 scores
(Figure 6) separates the Leith samples from the
remainder except for ve of the Dublin samples.
However, when the F1 and F2 values for these ve
samples is examined, it is evident that they too can be
separated from the Leith samples, having lower F1 and
F2 scores. These Dublin samples consist of whitewares
of unknown origin identied as French by their general
method of manufacture and fabric characteristics (pers
comm C McCutcheon).
In conclusion, although there are differences in
chemical composition between the two groups of
whiteware from Leith, as can be seen from their
compositions in (Appendix 1), when compared with
a range of French whitewares these two groups are
consistently more similar to each other than to other
samples. However, the closest match is with the four
samples of Normandy Gritty ware from Exeter,
although even these samples can be distinguished from
the Leith ones. The most likely interpretation of this
data is therefore that the two Leith fabric groups are
indeed of Normandy origin but not from the Lower
Seine valley, nor, probably, from the same production
site as those found at Exeter.
Table 3
element Factor 1 Factor 2 Factor 3
K
2
O 0.841 0.187 -0.132
MgO 0.829 0.120 -0.283
Fe
2
O
3
0.814 0.074 0.185
V 0.639 0.231 0.415
Ni 0.635 0.149 0.135
Ba 0.591 0.510 -0.072
Zn 0.581 -0.077 0.258
Zr -0.447 0.421 -0.241
MnO 0.325 -0.073 0.157
Ce 0.009 0.956 -0.065
La 0.048 0.903 -0.031
Na
2
O 0.185 0.763 -0.226
Y 0.095 0.540 0.220
Cr 0.227 -0.012 0.887
TiO
2
0.026 -0.093 0.856
sum of squares 3.96 3.192 2.101
percent of variance 26.4 21.3 14.0
Figure 3
Plot of the f irst two factor scores resulting from factor
analysis for the samples in the Normandy Gritty ware,
Normandy White ware, Rouen La Londe ware and the
Western French White wares
Figure 4
Plot of the scores on Factors 1 and 3 resulting from factor
analysis for White ware from Amboise, Angers, Blois, Chinon,
Exeter, La Londe, Leith, Poitiers, Rigny Uss and Tours. Factor
3 is dominated by the chromium and titanium contents
Normandy whitewares from Ronaldsons Wharf, Leith, Scotland 27
Acknowledgements
We are grateful to Clare McCutcheon and Michael
Hughes for supplying copies of their data in digital
form and for permission to use it in this study. George
Haggarty suggested the analysis as part a survey of
French pottery in Scotland.
Figure 5
Plot of the f irst two factor scores resulting from factor
analysis for the pottery samples from Boston, Dublin, Exeter,
Normandy White and Gritty found at Leith, Southampton
and Worcester
Figure 6
Plot of the scores on Factors 3 and 4 resulting from factor
analysis for the pottery samples from Boston, Dublin, Exeter,
Normandy White and Gritty found at Leith, Southampton
and Worcester
Table 4
element Factor 1 Factor 2 Factor 3 Factor 4
Sm 0.964 0.002 -0.025 0.043
Ce 0.938 0.134 0.152 0.111
La 0.905 0.146 0.276 0.090
Nd 0.898 0.167 0.284 -0.105
Dy 0.861 0.267 0.327 -0.154
Y 0.842 0.309 0.262 -0.198
Eu 0.820 0.396 -0.079 -0.0214
Ni 0.651 0.412 -0.085 -0.199
Yb 0.634 0.4249 0.553 -0.258
Sr 0.629 -0.049 0.091 0.289
K
2
O 0.110 0.928 0.002 0.215
MgO 0.153 0.919 -0.068 0.0396
V 0.226 0.810 0.140 0.247
Co -0.007 0.680 0.455 -0.166
Fe
2
O
3
0.388 0.610 0.202 0.008
Li 0.334 0.575 -0.137 -0.353
Zr 0.221 0.130 0.942 -0.122
TiO
2
0.1488 -0.090 0.813 0.174
Zn 0.349 -0.040 0.609 0.436
Cu 0.024 0.107 0.437 0.209
Na
2
O -0.225 0.245 0.251 0.654
MnO -0.152 -0.185 -0.115 0.647
Ba 0.185 0.499 0.162 0.638
Cr 0.315 0.113 0.310 0.561
sum of squares 7.528 4.665 3.282 2.394
% variance 31.4 19.4 13.7 10.0
References
Deroeux, D Dufournier, D and Herteig, A (1994)
French medieval ceramics from the Bryggen
excavations in Bergen, Norway. Bryggen Papers:
Supplementary Series 5, 161208.
Fitch, Robert K (2001)Winstat for Microsoft (r) Excel.
Haggarty, G 2006 A gazetteer and summary of French
pottery imported into Scotland c 1150 to c 1650 a
ceramic contribution to Scotlands economic
history. A CD-Rom in Tayside and Fife
Archaeological Journal, 12 (2006), 1178.
Hughes, M J (forthcoming) Report on the analysis by
inductively-coupled plasma atomic emission analysis
(ICP-AES) of imported northern French pottery,
including a sherd found at the Althea Library,
Padstow.
Jones, R E Will, R Haggarty, G and Hall, D (200203)
Sourcing Scottish White Gritty Ware Medieval
Ceramics 2627 (2003), 4584.
McCutcheon, C (2006) Medieval Pottery from Wood
Quay, Dublin: The 19746 Waterfront Excavations.
Series B 7 Dublin, Royal Irish Academy.
Vince, A (2005) The Imported Medieval Pottery from
Boston (BSE01). AVAC Reports 2005/111 Lincoln,
Alan Vince Archaeology Consultancy.
Vince, A (2006) Les analyses scientiques des
cramiques dates entre le VIIe et le VIIIe sicle
provenant de Lundenvic (Cit de Westminster,
Londres). In V Hincker and P Husi, eds, La
Cramique du Haut Moyen Age dans le north-ouest,
Editions NEA du Levant au Ponant, Conde-sur-
Noireau, 365371.
28 Alan Vince and Richard Jones
Zusammenfassung
Proben zweier Weiwaren aus der Ausgrabung in der
Ronaldson-Werft, Lieth, beide vermeintliche Erzeugnisse
aus der Normandie, wurden auf Empfehlung John
Lawsons, dem City of Edinbourg-Archologen, von
George Haggarty fr diese Untersuchung ausgewhlt.
In Verfolg einer krzlichen Untersuchung schottischer
Wei-Sandware wurden diese Gefe mit Hilfe der
ICPES-Methode (Inductively Coupled Plasma Emission
Spectroscopy) untersucht. Die Daten ber die
Zusammensetzung wurden dann mit verschiedenen
anderen Waren verglichen: mit glasierter Rouen-
Ware, mit frher glasierter Rouen-Ware (10. und 11.
Jahrhundert), mit frher glasierter York-Ware (die
wahrscheinlich ein Erzeugnis vom unteren Seine-Lauf
ist) und auch mit La Lande-Ware von einer Tpferei
unmittelbar sdlich von Rouen auf der Sdseite der
Seine, sowie mit La Lande-Ware, wie sie an Sttten
auf den Britischen Inseln gefunden wurden (Vince 2006),
sowie mit normannischer Sandware von Ausgrabungen
in Exeter (Hughes in Vorbereitung) wie auch mit anderer
franzsischer und vermutlich franzsischer Weiware.
Rsum
Des chantillons de deux types de cramique blanche
provenant de fouilles Ronaldsons Wharf, Leith,
toutes deux provenant peut-tre de Normandie ont t
slectionns par George Haggarty avec la permission
de John Lawson Archologue en charge de la Cit
dEdinburgh.
Les donnes recueillies sur la composition ont t
compares des chantillons de cramique vernie de
Rouen, de cramique vernie prcoce de Rouen (10/
11me sicles), de cramique vernie prcoce de York
(probablement un produit de Basse Seine), de cramique
du centre de production de La Londe (au sud de Rouen
sur la rive sud de la Seine), de cramique de La Londe
trouve sur des sites de consommation au Royaume Uni
(Vince 2006), de cramique type Normandy Gritty ware
dcouverte Exeter (Hughes paratre) et diverses
autres cramiques blanches de France ou supposes
de France.
Appendix 1
Normandy White ware found at Leith: major elements (percent oxides)
sample Al
2
O
3
Fe
2
O
3
MgO CaO Na
2
O K
2
O TiO
2
P2O
5
MnO
N1 32.61 3.34 0.79 0.27 0.14 2.31 1.25 0.12 0.06
N2 30.85 2.61 0.75 0.17 0.14 2.17 1.19 0.05 0.02
mean 31.73 2.98 0.77 0.22 0.14 2.24 1.22 0.09 0.04
Normandy Gritty Ware found at Leith: major elements (percent oxides)
SD standard deviation
sample Al
2
O
3
Fe
2
O
3
MgO CaO Na
2
O K
2
O TiO
2
P
2
O
5
MnO
LRW1 29.71 3.35 0.73 0.13 0.09 1.56 1.06 0.04 0.019
LRW2 26.57 2.44 0.56 0.14 0.12 2.05 1.19 0.07 0.010
LRW3 23.63 3.34 0.58 0.13 0.13 1.96 1.12 0.07 0.013
LRW4 23.28 3.19 0.56 0.14 0.13 1.91 1.09 0.08 0.012
LRW5 26.79 2.51 0.56 0.15 0.12 2.04 1.16 0.10 0.011
LRW6 26.46 2.48 0.56 0.13 0.13 2.04 1.17 0.09 0.010
LRW7 27.70 3.11 0.77 0.32 0.22 1.80 1.09 0.06 0.090
LRW8 25.75 3.76 0.73 0.44 0.20 1.60 1.10 0.05 0.023
LRW9 25.70 3.78 0.70 0.44 0.19 1.59 1.10 0.05 0.021
mean 26.18 3.11 0.64 0.22 0.15 1.84 1.12 0.07 0.023
SD 1.96 0.52 0.09 0.14 0.04 0.21 0.04 0.02 0.026
Normandy White ware found at Leith: trace elements (ppm)
sample Ba Cr Cu Li Ni Sc Sr V Y Zr* La Ce Nd Sm Eu Dy Yb Pb Zn Co
N1 458 173 36 308 70 20 167 126 27 81 81 143 81 9 2 5 3 49 51 20
N2 396 162 35 317 61 19 154 125 23 66 70 127 70 9 2 5 2 211 48 7
The use of ceramics
in late medieval and early modern monasteries
Data from three sites in East Flanders (Belgium)
Summary
Usually, the average pottery assemblages from waste
layers or cess pits in monasteries do not seem to have
typical features to identify their origin. The research
of three monastic sites in Flanders resulted in a large
dataset of late and postmedieval ceramics. It confirms
the general picture of the use of pottery in abbeys, but
it also revealed some special features, such as specific
Koen De Groote*
29
Introduction
This paper is a slightly adapted version of a presentation
given at the MPRG Annual Conference, held in Chester
on 12th14th June 2006, which had pottery from
medieval institutions as the subject and was titled
Ceramics cloistered and crenellated. This text will
present and discuss some aspects of the use of ceramics
in three monasteries in eastern Flanders during the late
medieval and early post-medieval periods. For Flanders,
this is a rst survey of the subject, based on published
and unpublished data, and certainly not the account
of a nished study.
The three selected sites, all situated within a distance
of 35 km in the Belgian province of East Flanders
(Figure 1), have a different historical background.
The Saint Saviour abbey of Ename, was founded
in the 11th century, and represents an average male
Benedictine abbey (Callebaut 1987). The second,
the Beaulieu abbey of Peteghem is a female, Clarisse
monastery, which became part of the Wealthy Clare
Nuns, also called the Urbanists, after the 15th century
reformation of the order (De Groote 1993). Both
abbeys are situated in the countryside around
Oudenaarde, in the valley of the river Scheldt. The
third monastery is located within the walls of Aalst,
a small town on the river Dender, situated between
Brussels and Ghent. It is a male priory of the Carmelite
Order, founded there in 1497 (De Groote et al 2005,
idem 2006).
* Flemish Heritage Institute (VIOE) . Wallestraat 167 . 9700 Oudenaarde-Ename . Belgium
wearing marks on jugs and scratch marks, which
give a link between the pottery and their monastic
environment. The meaning of the specific presence
of late-medieval mediterranean tin-glazed wares
in monastic sites from inland Flanders is another
subject that requires special attention in this context.
Benedictine Saint Saviour abbey of Ename
Until now, the Saint Saviour abbey of Ename is the
best studied archaeological site of these monasteries.
Excavations took place during the 80s and 90s and
unearthed the complete central building complex of
the abbey. Ceramic assemblages dating from the 12th
to the early 18th century became available and were
studied (De Groote 2008). These assemblages show
particular characteristics in their composition, related
to their time of deposition. Most of these characteristics
can indeed be explained within the general chronological
Examples from the abbey sites of Ename,
Petegem and Aalst
Figure 1
Location map.
evolution of the consumption of ceramics in Flanders,
but some elements seem to be connected with the status,
the organisation or the way of living within the abbey.
However, in the ceramic data, no specic links with
religious life have been detected or recognised so far.
The assemblages from the late 12th and early 13th
century of the abbey of Ename contain a large
percentage of highly decorated earthenware, all together
almost 10 percent in sherd count, and more than 16%
when quantied by rim percentage (De Groote 2008).
This percentage is remarkable for this period, because
the production of highly decorated wares had just
started. A second remarkable fact is that almost half
of the amount consists of an imported northern French
highly decorated ware, probably produced in Douai
(Figure 2) (De Groote 2006, 254255, 265). Some of the
late-12th-century assemblages contain almost 6 % of
this northern French import, while this pottery is rather
exceptional in other rural or urban assemblages from
the same period, both in the same region as in Flanders
in general. The abbey probably acquired this pottery
through its properties in Picardy, around Douai,
especially during the second half of the 12th century
(probably before 1190) (Louis 1996), when the Flemish
local redware production did not yet produce this type
of pottery. The data from the region of Oudenaarde
Figure 2
Selection of Northern French highly decorated ware, found in the abbey of Ename.
0 10 cm
30 Koen De Groote
seems to indicate that the social status of highly
decorated jugs was rather high during their very rst
period of appearance. Many late 12th-early 13th
century examples, both local products and northern
French imports, show traces of the use of mounted lids,
probably in silver or pewter. On several rims very
characteristic traces of heavy wear can be distinguished.
This interpretation is supported by the nd of several
fragments from the same jug, containing both a worn
rim and an indented handle, clearly suggesting the use
of a mounted metal lid (Figure 3).
The conclusion to be made for this period is that
pottery from the abbey of Ename shows elements of
their social position (in this case exemplied by the
status of tableware) and of their economic position (in
this case the manner of acquisition). The ceramics reect
status, but not the religious background of the site.
Remarkable is the fact that during later periods,
these traces of status more or less remain hidden in
the general ceramic consumption waste of the Ename
Abbey. Even the opposite is true: the ceramic assemblages
of the 14th to 16th century contain a lot of lower status
material, or even minor, second or third-class quality
(De Groote 2008). A large 14th-century assemblage,
derived from a sewer next to the guest-quarter of the
abbey, contained an important assemblage of drinking
vessels in greyware (Figure 4). In an early-16th-century
cess-pit, poor quality cooking vessels were found. As
an aside it can be mentioned that recent research in
Flanders clearly shows that the percentage of stoneware
within ceramic assemblages does not tell much about
status from the middle of the 14th century onwards,
stoneware is generally well spread but mostly only gives
information about the amount of tableware present in
an assemblage (De Groote 2008).
One group of ceramics does seem to be linked to
the religious character of the site: a group of early
maiolicas dating from the late middle ages until the rst
half of the 16th century. However, this assumed relation
is the result of a recurrent pattern in the assemblages
from monastic sites, related to this kind of pottery. This
item will be discussed at the end of this paper, together
with specic data from other sites.
Clarisse Beaulieu abbey of Petegem
The second abbey discussed is the Saint Clare monastery
of Petegem, commonly called theBeaulieu abbey. On
this abbey site, only two small excavation campaigns
took place; one in the choir of the demolished 13th-
century stone church (De Groote and Moens 2002),
and one on the edge of the abbey enclosure, where a
large refuse dump dating from the early 16th century
was excavated (De Groote 1993). This rubbish context
provided a good insight into the material culture of
a female abbey from that period. The analysis of the
different nds groups made clear that we were dealing
with a general dump at the edge of the abbey lands,
where all kinds of waste, derived from different parts
of the abbey, were deposited together. The ceramic
assemblage from this waste dump (in total more than
6000 sherds and about 880 vessels counted) (Figure 5)
showed special features, of which the interpretation
remains problematic (De Groote 2008).
Scratch marks
Remarkable is the appearance of scratch marks on the
pottery (Figure 6). 104 examples with marks are present,
mainly redware, representing about 12% of the total
assemblage. But they only appear on six of the seventeen
Figure 3
Fragment of a jug in Northern French highly decorated ware
from the abbey of Ename. The worn rim and the indented
handle point to the use of a mounted metal lid.
Figure 4
14th-century drinking bowl in greyware from the abbey
of Ename.
0 5 cm
The use of ceramics in late medieval and early modern monasteries 31
32 Koen De Groote
main vessel types: the bowl, the dish, the one-handled
pipkin, the skillet, the chang dish and the ower pot
(De Groote 1993, 375376). Remarkably, these scratch
marks from Petegem are the only known examples from
the whole region, while only a few examples are known
from other parts of Flanders. This most probably
indicates that these scratch marks on the vessels are
linked with the identity of their users, in this case the
nuns of the Beaulieu abbey. The heterogeneous character
of the marks, and of the way of writing/scratching,
seems to show that the owners/users made the marks
themselves. The majority of these marks consist of one
or two characters in roman or gothic script, possibly the
initials of a real name or a monastic name (Figure 7).
However, a large number of them seem to represent an
abbreviation of a religious kind, like MA for Maria, I
for Jesus, IC for Jesus Christ, IM for Jesus and Maria
and F for Saint Francis (the Clarisse nuns basically
followed the rule of Saint Francis). But also simple
marks occur, for example symbols such as a trident,
a cross or a star.
At least 40% of the chang dishes, bowls and pipkins
were marked in this way (De Groote 1993, 375376)
(Figures 8 and 9). The symbols seem to represent
property or user marks on individual utilities.
Maybe this phenomenon is linked with the structure
of the Beaulieu abbey during the period considered.
The nunnery did not consist of a central cloister but
of a collection of about 15 single larger and smaller
buildings in a loose structure (Figure 10), with separate
houses or cells for the nuns, as shown on an early-17th-
century gouache of the abbey in the Albums de Cro
(Duvosquel 1990, 10, pl 32). One interpretation of the
marks is that they served to discriminate the vessels
when bringing individual portions of food from the
kitchen to an individual cell. The nature of most of
the marked pottery forms does not contradict this
interpretation, as they consist of one-handled cooking
pots to carry individual portions directly from the re
to the table, bowls to transport other prepared food,
chang dishes to keep the food warm and dishes to
eat. A study by Thier shows that the phenomenon of
property marks mostly appears in abbeys (Thier 1995).
Indeed the 15 known examples at the time of Thiers
research, from Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium,
appeared to be from nunneries, among which 12 were
0 10 cm
Figure 5
Ceramic assemblage from an early-16th-century waste layer
from the Beaulieu abbey at Petegem.
The use of ceramics in late medieval and early modern monasteries 33
of the Cistercian order. A recent study of a large
13th-century pottery assemblage from the female
Cistercian abbey of Herkenrode (Belgium) revealed
about ve examples of property marks on Andenne-
type small cooking pottery, and are the earliest examples
studied in Belgium (De Groote, unpublished). Also the
scratch marks are in a two or three letter form, placed
on small cooking pots and are from a Cistercian
nunnery. Thier discusses several possibilities for the
purpose of these marks.
The rst one is that in nunneries with communal
meals in a refectorium, marked pots could have served
to make sure that individual meals arrived at the right
person. This may have been the result of the social
structure of the monastic community, where ladies of
high status could have had certain prerogatives. From
historical sources is known that part of the convent of
both the Beaulieu abbey of Petegem and the monastery
of Herkenrode consisted of noble origin (De Ghellinck
1912, Smeets 2006). A second possibility is a monastic
system where nuns are preparing their own food or
are eating separately. In this system monastic rules
stipulated that meals only had to be used in community
on sunday and on holidays. The specic structure
of the Beaulieu abbey can be an indication in this
direction. Another possibility is that tableware for
the hospital had to be separated from the rest. Because
of the high amount of marked pottery, it seems less
probable that this was the case for the Beaulieu abbey.
Another question is whether we have to consider
these scratch marks as real property marks, or merely
as marks of the users. In accordance to the common
monastic rules, personal property was not allowed, all
property belonged to the community. Property marks
should thus be excluded. However, monastic rules were
not strictly applied after a while, and a lot of examples
are known of personal property and special prerogatives
for high status religieux and for entered nobles (Thier
1995).
These scratch marks point directly to the user of
the pot. As mentioned, the marks are always made by
different hands, which indicates the personal character
of this action. Several objects with two different marks
may support the hypothesis that we have to deal with
user-marks or identication-marks on pottery that is
common property (De Groote 1993, 373) (Figure 7.9,
0 5 cm
Figure 6. Scratched marks on redware, finds from the Beaulieu abbey at Petegem..
34 Koen De Groote
Figure 7
List of scratched marks on redware from Petegem-Beaulieu. From De Groote 1993
The use of ceramics in late medieval and early modern monasteries 35
Figure 8
111 Redware bowls and 1215 pipkins with scratched marks from Petegem-Beaulieu.
36 Koen De Groote
Figure 9
Redware chaf ing dishes with scratched marks from Petegem-Beaulieu.
Figure 10
On the gouache from the Albums de Cro (16081609), the Beaulieu abbey is situated right of the castle of Petegem, across the
River Scheldt. The abbey is depicted as a collection of buildings in a loose structure, protected by a cloister wall.
The use of ceramics in late medieval and early modern monasteries 37
10, 12, 24, 32, 47). A possible explanation is that after
the death of a user, the pot was passed through to a
new user, who marked it with her own sign. But how
do we explain the pots with double marks that are
mostly remarked with the same sign, and with an
abbreviation that points at a holy name, such as F
(Saint Francis) or IM (Jesus and Maria)? This seems
to be an extra argument that the marks point at the
user of the pot, not at the owner. Maybe there is a
link with some aspects of common property. But the
use of abbreviations of holy names can also have had
a direct religious meaning.
It is certain that the appearance of marked pottery
gives a remarkable insight on the use of ceramics in
a religious community. The pattern not only yields
information about the function of the pot itself, but
also about its use, about the structure of property,
about its use within a monastic community, and even
about the organisation and customs of a nunnery.
The analysis makes clear that the data can only be
fully explored if combined with historical research:
information on the monastic rules of Clarisse en
Cistercian abbeys, on the structure, the customs and
the practice in nunneries in Flanders in general and of
the specic abbeys in peculiar, in this case the Clarisse
Beaulieu abbey of Petegem and the Cistercian monastery
of Herkenrode.
Carmelite Holy Virgin priory of Aalst
Several objects from the early 16th-century waste layer
of Beaulieu refer to a religious context: religious texts
on pottery and metal objects (O Mater Dei, memento
me), or small clay pipe gures of the Holy Virgin, Christ
as a child, the crucied Christ or Saint Catherine (De
Groote 1993, 381382). Remarkably, such specic
objects do not occur in the male Benedictine abbey
of Ename. On the other hand, the ceramic assemblages
from the male Carmelite priory of Aalst, the third
abbey investigated from this region, show a comparable
picture (De Groote et al. 2006b). The 16th-century
waste pits almost always contained a number of
specic ceramics. Several dishes with a religious text
or a depiction in sgrafto were found, such as the IHS
symbol (Figure 11.1), referring to the name of Jesus,
or the depiction of the Holy Lamb (Figure 11.2). The
presence of fragments of tens of statues and plaquettes
in ne white or red-ring clay is also remarkable. Some
iconographic themes are dominant: Maria with child
and Christ as a child, but also fragments of a large
plaquette depicting the crucied Christ were found
(Figure 12). The Carmelites are also known as the
Brothers of the Holy Virgin, and the Crowned Mary
with Child was their symbol, also found on several
other objects, like an ofcial seal matrix in copper
alloy of the priory (Figure 13) and a silver ring, both
found in monks graves, or a pewter pilgrim ampulla
with Mary with child on one side and the Christ
monogram on the other.
Mediterranean maiolica in religious contexts
A nal issue to discuss in this paper concerns the
appearance of early maiolicas. In the research area, this
type of pottery almost exclusively appears on monastic
sites. At Aalst, the only known nds of Mediterranean
pottery are originating from the carmelite priory:
some fragments of Classic Valencian lusterware and
of Isabela polychrome, a jug in Italo-Moresque ware,
probably from Central Italy, and a very rare fragment
of an incense burner in Merida-type ware from Portugal
Figure 11
Redware dish and tazza with white slip and yellow glaze inside
combined with a sgraf f ito decoration, from the Carmelite
priory of Aalst.
38 Koen De Groote
Figure 12
Fragments of a terracotta plaquette of the crucif ied Christ
from the Carmelite priory of Aalst.
Figure 13
Official seal matrix in copper alloy of the Carmelite priory
of Aalst.
from an early-16th-century context (Figure 14). At the
benedictine abbey of Ename only some fragments of
Valencian lusterware and of Isabela polychrome were
found (De Groote 2008, pl 123A). A remarkable high
quality dish from Deruta in Italy comes from a cess-
pitt of the Franciscan monastery in the town of
Oudenaarde (near Ename and Petegem) (Figure 15)
(De Groote 2008). However, most striking is the
remarkable collection of tin-glazed pottery, originating
from production centres in Spain, Italy and the Low
Countries, that was found as part of the early-16th-
century waste layer of the Clarisse nunnery of Beaulieu
(De Groote 1993, idem 2002b, idem 2008).
In the Beaulieu context eighteen vessels can be
identied as Valencian lusterware, amongst which
one of the Pula-type, the early production of the14th
century. Fifteen vessels belong to the Classic Valencian
production, mainly from the 15th century (Figure 16)
and two are from the Late Valencian overall lustre
production (c 14751550). Two albarelli and one dish
probably belong to the group of Paterna blue ware.
One albarello can be identied as Catalan blue. The
Isabela polychrome is represented by fragments of
two dishes (De Groote 2008, tabel 95).
Fragments of nine individual vessels represent South
Netherlands maiolica seven jugs and/or vases, one
bowl or dish, and one albarello although an Italian
origin can not be excluded for the jugs and vases (Hurst
1999). For example: a vase-fragment decorated with
blue foliage in a brown-orange and blue frame is very
similar to a two-handled vase from the Guildhall in
London, of which neutron activating analysis of the
clay showed that its origin lies in Italy, and not in the
southern part of the Low Countries, as thought before
(Hughes and Gaimster 1999). Four sherds can be
identied as fragments of Italian maiolica, probably
from Tuscany (De Groote 2002b). A stem and a
shoulder fragment derive from a vessel of the same
type as the armorial maiolica vases from London.
The two other sherds are fragments of a dish, with
a decoration in brown-orange and blue.
Figure 14
Large fragment of an incense burner in Merida-type ware
(Portugal), from the Carmelite priory of Aalst.
The use of ceramics in late medieval and early modern monasteries 39
Figure 15
Polychrome painted dish from Deruta, Italy, found in the
Franciscan monastery of Oudenaarde.
Figure 16
Bowl in Classic Valencian Lustreware, decorated with
crowns, fern and elongated f lowers, from the Beaulieu
abbey of Petegem.
0 5 cm
Discussion
The presence, within the research area, of late medieval
Mediterranean maiolica, generally rare in Flanders,
shows particular characteristics. Three elements will
be discussed: rst, the specic locations of appearance,
secondly, the large variety of groups, of which some are
very rare, and thirdly the recurrent discrepancy between
the period of fabrication and the period of deposition.
Until the rst quarter of the 16th century, almost all
known nds of early maiolica in the area of research
(the towns of Aalst and Oudenaarde and the abbeys of
Ename and Petegem), originate from abbeys. However,
this clear and direct link between early maiolica and
monastic sites is not a general pattern in all parts of
Flanders. Most of the published Flemish nds were
excavated in the coastal area (Hurst 1977; Mars1987).
Mediterranean tin-glazed wares are present in ports (for
example Bruges, Damme, Sluis), coastal settlements (for
example Raversijde and Oostkerke), large trade towns
(such as Bruges, Ghent or Antwerp) and abbeys. It
seems that the distribution pattern is totally different in
coastal areas compared to their hinterland, with a better
distribution in terms of quantities of pots, number of
sites or type of site, than further inland. In smaller
inland towns, late-medieval Mediterranean pottery
seems to be absent in civilian, middle-class households.
Almost all nds from the inland are indeed coming from
monastic sites, both in towns and on the countryside.
The remarkable presence of maiolica in monastic
sites is clearly not accidental. But what made this
pottery so attractive to the monastic environment?
It seems to have been much more than rare objects of
prestige or beauty, as they do not appear in contexts of
the substantial civilian middle-class of merchants and
artisans. It appears that a certain religious connotation
was present, which made this pottery attractive to
monastic communities, but only a little or even
completely not to the wealthy civilian middle-class.
Looking at the pottery itself, we see that the monogram
of Christ (IHS on Spanish maiolica and YHS on Italo-
Netherlandish)
is common. The numerous depictions of Spanish and
Italian maiolica on religious paintings from the 15th
century are corroborating this observation (De Groote
2008). However, it is not clear how this religious
connotation has to be understood and how its symbolic
meaning was experienced in that time. The more general
spread in the Flemish coastal area, and also in England
(Gutirrez 2000), shows that this association does not
automatically implies that this pottery was only used
in religious contexts. In this sense, the presence of two
classic Valencian dishes with scratched marks in the
waste deposit of the nunnery of Beaulieu (Figure 17),
could point to a non-religious function. They just could
be a reection of the wealth of the abbey. But more inland
data is needed to get a better picture of the distribution
and the use of this pottery.
Figure 17
Scratch mark on a plate in Classic Valencian Lustreware
from the Beaulieu abbey of Petegem.
A second remarkable fact is the diversity of maiolica
groups, especially within the Beaulieu abbey assemblage.
At least three main production areas are represented:
Spain, Central Italy and the Low Countries. The Spanish
maiolica derives from three production regions: Valencia,
Catalonia and Andalusia. Central Italy is represented
by at least two production regions: one in Tuscany
(probably Florence itself) and one in Umbria (Deruta,
near Perugia). The origin of the early maiolica from
the Low Countries remains unknown, but also here
several production centres are possible. The Valencian
products are best represented amongst the Mediterranean
maiolicas. The limited presence of Catalonian,
Andalusian and Central-Italian maiolicas probably
is more the result of a limited supply (and accessibility)
of these groups, than that they were less wanted.
A third remarkable fact is that in most cases, the
majority of Spanish maiolica is signicantly older
than the period of deposition. In the early-16th-century
assemblage of Beaulieu, that does not contain any
residual material amongst the local wares or stoneware
(De Groote 1993), most of the Classic Valencian
lustreware must be dated before 1450, based on its
form and/or decoration (De Groote 2008, tabel 94).
One early Valencian dish in Pula-type ware even belongs
to the 14th century (Blake 1986). This seems to indicate
that this kind of pottery was treated with great care,
and did not belong to the daily used material. In this
way this pottery could be in circulation for many
decades. On average, Valencian maiolica was 50 to 75
years old before it was thrown away, the Pula-type dish
even at least 125 years old. The nature and the quantity
of this maiolica seem to indicate that this Spanish
lustreware, mostly dating from the middle of the 15th
century, was thrown away at the same moment. In the
beginning of the 16th century it probably became
decrepit and unfashionable, maybe due to the rise of the
Italian inspired Low Countries maiolica and the Italian
Renaissance style tinglazed wares. It is not unlikely to
suppose that at a certain moment the nuns decided to
throw away a complete set of old and old-fashioned
Mediterranean maiolicas.
Conclusions
The data presented here provide a rst idea of the
potential and the possibilities of ceramic assemblages
as part of the study of the material culture of monastic
communities. A number of specic cases were discussed,
from which a lot of new questions arose.
Different angles of research are open: material
culture as a mirror of wealth and status, as the
expression of belief or monastic rules, the contrast
between monasteries located at the countryside or in
town, the differences between male and female monastic
communities, etc... It is clear that a lot of research still
needs to be done on this subject and that only a start is
made exploring the possibilities.
Acknowledgements
I wish to thank Derek Hall for his encouragement to
publish my Chester presentation, and for the corrections
in the English text; Marta Caroscio for the assistance
with the determination of the central Italian tin-glazed
wares; Timothy Wilson for the determination of the
Deruta dish. I also want to express my gratitude to
my colleague Jan Moens from the Flemish Heritage
Institute (VIOE) for his help with the illustrations
and for the drawings of Figure 10. The photography
of Figure. 2, 3, 4, 5, 9, 11, 12, 13 and 14 is from Hans
Denis (VIOE).
References
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Cagliari) and the Pula type of Spanish lustreware.
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365408.
Callebaut, D 1987, De vroeg-middeleeuwse portus en
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De Ghellinck, A 1912, Obituaire de labbaye de Sainte
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De Groote, K 2002a, Low countries maiolica:
fragments of drinking bowls found at the Saint
Salvator Abbey of Ename and in the town of
Aalst (East-Flanders, Belgium), in J Veeckman
(ed), Maiolica and glass: from Italy to Antwerp
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De Groote, K 2002b, Spanish, Italian and South-
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deposit of the Saint Clara Abbey of Beaulieu at
Petegem (East-Flanders, Belgium) in J Veeckman
(ed), Maiolica and glass: from Italy to Antwerp
and beyond. The transfer of technology in the
16th-early 17th century, Antwerp, 443445.
De Groote, K 2006, Lvolution de la ceramique dans
la valle de lEscaut (Flandre) du IXe au XIIe sicle:
Interprtations culturelles, sociales et conomiques
in V Hincker and P Husi (eds), La cramique du
haut Moyen Age (Ve-Xe sicles) dans la nord-ouest
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40 Koen De Groote
Zusammenfassung
Normalerweise scheinen die durchschnittlichen
Tpferwarenfunde in klsterlichen Abfallagen oder
Klrgruben keine typischen Merkmale zu haben, um
ihre Herkunft zu identizieren. Die Untersuchung
von Ausgrabungen dreier Klster in Flandern jedoch
resultierte in einer umfangreichen Datei spt- und
nachmittelalterlicher Keramik. Neben der Besttigung
des allgemeinen Bildes vom Gebrauch von Tpferwaren
in Klstern legte sie besondere Eigenarten, wie
Anzeichen des Gebrauchs und Kratzspuren offen, die
eine Verbindung zwischen der Ware und ihrer Benutzung
im Kloster herstellen. Ein anderes Thema, dem in diesem
Zusammenhang besondere Aufmerksamkeit gebhrt,
ist die Bedeutung des speziellen Vorkommens spt-
mittelalterlicher mediterraner Zinn-glasierter Ware
in Klstern im andrischen Binnenland.
Rsum
Gnralement, les groupes de poteries provenant de
couches de dchets ou des fosses daisance dans les
monastres nont rien dexceptionnel ou de particulier
qui didentifier leur origine. Suite une recherche
entreprise sur trois sites monastiques de Flandres, une
large base de donnes sur la cramique du Bas Moyen
Age et de lEpoque Moderne a t accumule. Cette
base de donnes a permis de confimer lide gnrale
que lon avait sur la poterie dans les abbayes mais a
aussi revl des caractristiques particulires comme
des traces dusure bien spciques sur les cruches ou
des graffitis gravs. Ces caractristiques tablissent un
lien direct entre les cramiques et leur environnement
monastique. La prsence de cramique tame
mditerranenne du Bas Moyen Age dans les sites
monastiques du centre de Flandres est aussi une
question qui demande plus dtude.
evolutie van het gebruiksgoed in de regio Oudenaarde
in de volle en late middeleeuwen (10de16de eeuw),
Relicta Archeologie, Monumenten- and Land-
schapsonderzoek in Vlaanderen - Monograe 1,
twee delen, Brussel.
De Groote, K, De Maeyer, W, Moens, J and De Block,
A 2005, Het archeologisch onderzoeksproject
Hopmarkt te Aalst (OVl), Archaeologia
Mediaevalis 28, 102104.
De Groote, K, De Maeyer, W, Moens, J and De Block, A
2006a, Het archeologisch onderzoek op de Hopmarkt
te Aalst (OVl), Archaeologia Mediaevalis 29, 4751.
De Groote, K and Moens, J 2002, Prospectieopgraving
aan de westzijde van de kapelaanwoning van de Rijke
Klarenabdij van Beaulieu te Petegem (Wortegem-
Petegem) (O-Vl), Archaeologia Mediaevalis 25, 8.
De Groote, K, Moens, J and De Brandt H 2006b, Tijd
voor Pottenkijkers. Cataloog bij de tentoonstelling
Gelieve de werf te betreden. 25 jaar archeologie in
de Aalsterse binnenstad, Aalst.
Duvosquel, J (ed) 1990, Albums de Cro. Valleien van
Schelde en Scarpe, Brussel.
Gutirrez, A 2000, Mediterranean pottery in Wessex
households (13th to 17th centuries), BAR British
Series 306, Oxford.
Hughes, M and Gaimster, D 1999, Neutron activation
analyses of maiolica from London, Norwich, the Low
Countries and Italy, in D Gaimster (ed), Maiolica in
the North, British Museum Occasional Paper 122,
London, 5790.
Hurst, J G 1999, Sixteenth-century South Netherlands
maiolica imported into Britain and Ireland in, D
Gaimster (ed), Maiolica in the North, British
Museum Occasional Paper 122, London, 91106.
Hurst, J G and Neal, D S 1982, Late medieval Iberian
pottery imported into the Low Countries, Rotterdam
Papers IV, 83110.
Louis, E 1996, La cramique trs dcore Douai.
LEtat de question in, D Piton (ed), La cramique
trs dcore dans lEurope du nord-ouest (Xme
XVme sicle). Actes du Colloque de Douai (78
avril 1995), Nord-Ouest Archologie 7, 105120.
Mars, A 1987, De luister van luster. Spaans-Islamitische
lusteraardewerkvondsten uit Vlaamse en Nederlandse
bodem (14de17de eeuw); een overzicht van de stand
van zaken, Unpublished PhD manuscript.
Smeets, M 2006, Herkenrode omgekeerd. Rapport
betreffende het archeologisch onderzoek naar de
resten van de voormalige cistercinzerinnenabdij, sl.
Thier, B 1995, Besitzmarken auf sptmittelalterlicher
und neuzeitlicher Keramik, in W Endres and F
Lichtwark (eds), Zur Regionalitt der Keramik
des Mittelalters und der Neuzeit, 26. Internationales
Hafnerei-Symposium 1993 in Soest, Denkmalpege
und Forschung in Westfalen 32, Bonn, 167186.
The use of ceramics in late medieval and early modern monasteries 41
Figure 1
Location map of the 14th-century Mamluk ceamic bottle.
Figure 2
Drawing by Kate Armitage. Scale 1: 4
An unexpected catch for the Brixham trawler Catear
Among the itmes recently donated to Brixham
Heritage Museum is an unglazed earthenware bottle
with moulded decoration. According to the donor Mr
B T Stockton (Catear Fishing Co Ltd, Brixham), this
item had been recovered ten years ago in the trawl net
of Brixham trawler Catear whilst shing fteen miles
off Start Point, slightly to the east (Figure 1). In August
2004, prompted by local newspaper accounts of
archaeological activities carried out by Brixham
Heritage Museum, Mr Stockton decided to bring
the ceramic bottle to the museum for identication.
At the initial examination of the item both of the
authors recognised its antiquity and considered the
decorative style was non-European, probably Near
Eastern (Islamic). Photographs and measurements
of the bottle were then sent to ceramic specialists in
London and Oxford, which results in conrmation of its
provenance and revealed further details about its dating
and function. In view of the unusual nature of this nd
off the south Devon coast, we decided to bring its
discovery to the wider attention of archaeologists
and ceramic specialists across Europe.
Philip Armitage and Kate Armitage
43
Both the body and the ring base are complete but only
the lower portion of the neck has survived with all of
the mouth missing (probably resulting from post-
depositional damage in antiquity) (Figure 2). The
bottle is of unglazed earthenware (pinkish fabric)
with moulded decoration(Figure 3), the maximum
circumference of the body is 755 mm, the diameter
of the ring base is 127 mm, and the height (from base
to edge of surviving of the neck) is 272 mm.
Tony Grey (Museum of London Specialist Services)
was the rst ceramic specialist to answer our enquiry
concerning the date and country of origin of this bottle.
He identied it as a cram-ware bottle of the Mamluk
period, most likely 14th-century in date, and probably
made in Palestine or Syria. Professor James Allan
(Deparment of Eastern Art, Ashmolean Museum
Oxford) subsequently (independently) conrmed
the dating and provenance, explaining also that such
earthenware bottle in the Near East were used for
water storage. Being unglazed, the water seeped
slowly through the body, evaporating on the outside
surface and thus colling the remaining liquid inside.
Late medieval maritime trade
The discovery by Brixham shermen of an Islamic
ceramic bottle on the seabed off the south Devon
coast suggests the presence at that location of a late-
medieval shipwreck. Clearly this interpretation can
only be conrmed if further associated artefacts are
recovered from the same area, which to our knowledge
has not yet taken place. Based upon the date and place
of manufacture of the Start Point nd, however, there
is an historical basis for the suggestion it derived from
a shipwreck. The 14th century date corresponds to
the period of establishment of regular maritime trade
between the Mediterranean and North Western Europe
(Spain, France, England and the Netherlands). Merchant
sailors from Venice dominated much of this sea borne
trade, and their extensive trading ventures resulted in
the distribution of a wide range of commodities from
the eastern Mediterranean (Levant) to the European
ports, including Southampton and London. Perhaps
during one such trading voyage a Europen-bound
merchant ship was lost off the south Devon coast,
and it was from the sunken wreck site of this vessel
that the Mamluk-period earthenware bottle came. Figure 3
Description and identification
of the ceramic bottle
[page 44 / blank]
medieval ceramics Reviews
[page 46 / blank]
David Gaimster
The historical archaeology of pottery supply and demand
in the Lower Rhineland, AD 14001800: an archaeological
study of ceramic production, distribution and use in the
city of Duisburg and its hinterland
2008 . Studies in Contemporary and Historical Archaeology 1,
BAR International Series 1518
270 pages,131 figures, 8 data appendices, price 37.00
As is often the case with
doctoral research topics,
there is often a delay
before a revised version
appears in print. The
authors study of the
historical domestic
ceramic market in the
Lower Rhineland was
completed in 1990, and
submitted as a PhD thesis
in 1991. Dr Gnter Krause
provides in his preface to
the book a forthright
explanation for the subsequent delays in publication,
which have been beyond the control of the author.
There has been limited editorial revision to the thesis,
but bibliographical references stop at 1999 (with a few
exceptions).
The platform for this study of regional manufacture
and material consumption in the Lower Rhineland was
provided by the pottery sequences from the large scale
urban excavations conducted in the Duisburg Altstadt
between 1980 and 1995 (under the direction of Dr
Krause). Thanks to the directors enterprising mobilisa-
tion of volunteers, most of the latrines, wells, waster
pits and settlement layers from the Alter Markt and
other sites could be stratigraphically excavated and
recorded. Volunteers also participated in the post-
excavation process, so that by 1990 the Duisburg
archaeology unit was held in high regard for its scientic
output and cost-effectiveness. This situation was not to
last, for a variety of reasons given in Krauses preface
noteworthy for its critical indictment of developments
in Duisburg since 1999.
This book begins with some scene-setting.
Summaries of post-medieval ceramic research
undertaken between 1850 and 1990 are organised
according to ware (salt-glazed stoneware given the
longest treatment, followed by lead-glazed earthenware
and slipware, and briefer reviews of stove-tiles, tin-
glazed earthenware, oriental and native porcelain,
and Staffordshire newares). This is followed by
statements on research strategy and methodology,
and an account of the background to the excavations.
Section 2 provides a more detailed description of the
methodology adopted. The actual number of discrete
datasets analysed is relatively small 51 stratied
and associated groups of pottery from the Duisburg
Altstadt, 32 similar groups from the hinterland of the
Reviews 47
city and Lower Rhine area, and 12 contexts from
published excavation reports of Lower Rhine sites
(total 95; none post1989). Many have only been
examined on a presence and absence basis (p 132).
However, the purpose of this study is not the
comprehensive description of all available ceramic
assemblages that fall within the research period from
the Altstadt excavations. Rather, it concentrates on
these selected consumer assemblages in order to assess
regional patterns in pottery marketing, fashion, status
and function. The date range c AD 14001800 was
dictated pragmatically by the large quantity of such
material made available by the Duisburg excavations,
and by authors desire to look at the speed and
geographical extent of trends in ceramic consumption
during the so-called transitional period of the 15th
and 16th centuries (p 39). The earlier ceramics
sequences excavated at Duisburg, dominated by
Siegburg products from the mid-13th to the end of
the 14th centuries, have been excluded from this study.
A post-1400 ceramic-type series for Duisburg is dened
and characterised in Section 3, and its forms are
correlated with already published typologies.
The British Museum agreed to complement its
regional database on the chemical compositions of
post-medieval Rhenish stove-tiles with Michael Cowells
programmes of Neutron Activation Analysis of Lower
Rhineland post-medieval ceramics, in particular regional
lead-glazed wares, and the results are represented in
Section 4. Chemical analysis was undertaken of just
under 100 samples of lead-glazed earthenware and
stove-tiles from excavations and museum collections
in the Lower Rhineland (pp. 6776). As this element
of the study is somewhat abstracted, detail on exactly
what forms have been analysed is condensed while how
the new analyses, which incorporates data on samples
from waster groups from Kln, Mayen, Issum
(slipwares) and Frechen, compare with datasets
gathered by others, is not discussed.
Section 5 provides a summary of the principal trends
in regional ceramic production and distribution for the
period covered by the book. Sections 6 and 7 discuss the
relative composition of archaeological consumer
assemblages on an intra-site basis (as demonstrated by
excavations in Lbeck) and using an inter-site approach.
Section 8 embraces a number of themes, from the
organisation and mechanisms of regional pottery
supply to ceramics as an index of consumer habit
and social emulation. The fact that more recent
contributions to such topics have since appeared in
print for example, Ellmers (2004) on the organisation
of the Frechen industry and the shipmasters and
merchants engaged in the distribution of its wares
does not devalue the value of this discussion. Future
priorities advocated for socio-economic analysis include
programmes of micro-topographic research (in Lower
Rhineland towns) to link discarded artefacts with
individual households, analysis of non-ceramic nds
and multi-media studies of individual contexts on a
48
comparative basis. This is not the rst time that such
aspirations have been proposed; how many times has
it actually been achieved?
Variations of this socio-historical approach to
archaeological material culture have been conducted
elsewhere for example the publication of 35% of
cesspit complexes excavated between 19681996 in
Deventer, Dordrecht, Nijmegen and Tiel (Bartels1999;
reviewed in Medieval Ceramics 2223, 199899, 177
79). These however lack statistical data, and were
but a sample. Constrained by time and the problem
orientation of the research, material excavated since
1989 was not included in the Duisburg study. Nor was it
possible in this study to assimilate the available archival
information for Duisburg (one of the many proposals
for the future that are cited), in the manner demonstrat-
ed by Reichmann (1988) for the KrefeldLinn cellar
group. This shortcoming is readily acknowledged by the
author, and his interpretation of each assemblage and
its socio-economic status is based on the archaeological
evidence alone. The reader is consequently left uncertain
about the reasons for some popular fashions failing
to appear within the waste of certain households.
Generalisations may hold true (and the statistics here
are extremely interesting). For example, the period
c 15751625 in particular witnessed a dramatic
transformation in the composition of the ceramic
assemblages, with the introduction of sophisticated
earthenware for table use, to satisfy a discrete consumer
niche and changes in dining habits. Dutch faience,
oriental porcelain and English exports accounted for
46% of the pottery consumed in Duisburg during the
second half of the 18th century (Staffordshire wares
accounting for 20%), while for the same period in the
hinterland Dutch faience increases, Chinese porcelain
starts to appear, and English newares are marginally
represented. However, the microhistories of individual
assemblages offer a myriad of explanations, social
trajectories and tempos, and these have yet to be
addressed.
The end product is an extremely useful characterisa-
tion of regional ceramic consumption in the Duisburg
area and assessment of the role that pottery has played
be it functional, socio-behavioural and economic
over a 400-year time span. The volume is well-produced
and illustrated, notwithstanding a few typographical
errors that are a by-product of the production process.
Gaimster has admirably illustrated the potential of
systematic, painstaking analysis of such late urban
assemblages. The illustrations provide a useful source
for comparative material, and Appendices facilitate
cross-referencing of forms, features and sites (though
use of ware codes rather than short names entails
some work by the reader).
The comment on page 43 that it is a pilot study, is
telling, given the implications for as yet unpublished
assemblages and the introductory comments made
on pages 2024.
We should be extremely grateful to the author for
persevering to ensure that this version of his doctoral
research has appeared in English in BAR (not the rst
time this solution has been found: see Brown 2000,
99). This reviewer agrees with the authors own self-
justication in his foreword (page 15) that it makes
a timely contribution to the fast-emerging discipline
of European historical archaeology and material
culture studies. As an illuminating study of patterns
and potential in the Lower Rhineland, it sets a bench-
mark against which any future progress towards a true
historical archaeology of pottery supply and demand
in this region can be measured.
Mark Redknap
References
Bartels, M Steden in scherven Cities in sherds.
Vondsten uit beerputten in Deventer, Dordrecht,
Nijmegen en Tiel (12501900) Finds from cesspits
in Deventer, Doordrecht, Nijmegen and Tiel (1250
1900), SPA/ROB, Zwolle.
Brown, D H Review of A. Gutirrez, Mediterranean
Pottery in Wessex Households, BAR 306.
Ellmers, D 2004, Die Aussagen dreier Bartmannskrge
zur Schiffahrt um 1700, Deutsches Schiffahrtsarchiv
27, 28596.
Reichmann, C 1988, Das Haushaltgeschirr des
Syndikus Kpers um 1784, in J Naumann (ed),
Keramik vom Niederrhein. Die Irdenware der
Dppen- und Pottbcker zwischen Kuoln und Kleve,
Kuoln, 12534.
Rmy Guadagnin
Fosses Valle de LYsieux: mille ans de production
cramique en le-de-France . Volume 2 . Catalogue typo-
chronologique des productions
2007 . Publications du CRAHM . Caen, 2007
735 pages, 478 figures including colour plates
The sight of the huge
volume brought back
fond memories of my
visit to the excavations
at Fosses in August 1995.
Id met Rmy Guadagnin
in Paris in the morning
and he took me out to
see the site, where we
arrived in time for lunch.
I dont recall ever being
more warmly welcomed
at an excavation, and I
still have on view a large photograph of a pile of in situ
whiteware pots that was sent to me afterwards. My
French has hardly improved since then, making a
Reviews 49
thorough review of this mammoth work somewhat
tricky, but the illustrations speak for themselves, and
the general gist is easy to discern.
This is the second of a two-volume set, the rst
of which deals with the structural and stratigraphic
evidence, while this considers the pottery. What pottery
it is too! The kilns at Fosses are located almost 30
kilometres due north of Paris, on a tributary of the
River Oise, where there seem to be good supplies of
white-ring clay. The nature of that clay is explored
in the introduction, as soon as page seven, on which
there are tables setting out the chemical composition
of various clay samples. Location and methodology
are also considered in this opening chapter, and it is
refreshing to see photographs of personnel trying to
nd sherd ts. The caption De giganteques puzzles
says it all. The following ve chapters discuss the
pottery produced at Fosses in chronological order: Le
haut Moyen ge, Le Moyen ge classique, Le bas
Moyen ge, La Renaissance and LAncien Rgime.
As the title says, a thousand years of pottery-making,
that takes us through most of the traditions we are
familiar with. Tenth century glazed, red-painted and
plain whitewares, developed into a wider variety of
forms in the twelfth century, including lamps, mortars
and horns. Forms of the thirteenth and fourteenth
centuries included curfews and dripping pans among
the range of jugs, jars and bowls, while the fteenth
century saw the introduction of cups and socket-
handled pipkins. As in many other places, the sixteenth
century brought changes, with two-handled tripod
cooking pots, chang dishes and fuming pots all making
an appearance. The rst section in the chapter on the
pottery of LAncien Rgime is entitled Stagnation,
puis restructuration and this period is characterised
by a simplication of products and a narrowing in the
range of forms. The overall story may be easily told
(although, with apologies, oversimplied here), but the
telling of it in this volume is a masterpiece of technique
and attention to detail.
For one thing, the illustrations are superb. The line
drawings are clearly presented, and there are hundreds
of them, depicting vessel forms, the forms of component
parts and techniques and motifs of decoration. Figure
161, for example, shows the methods of decorating a
pot with red slip, which is actually shown as red and is
all the more effective for it. Such an unsparing approach
to depicting every detail is terric, and this is carried
into the photographs, which are all excellent. They
range from groups of vessels to close-ups of nger-
prints in the surface of impressed clay. There are also
plates of manuscript illuminations and other artworks
where pottery has been represented. I imagine most of
us would use this volume as a reference catalogue, and
it will certainly be easy to do so. The pottery of each
period is summarised in charts that illustrate the
evolution of the main forms, a panorama synthtique
that acts as a quick look-up guide. Within each period
there is an introductory section discussing the
background to pottery-making at the time. The products
of specic kilns are then presented in separate sections,
sub-divided by vessel type. Latelier 10.21, for instance,
in Chapter Two, contains the following headings in the
rst section: Les donnes chronologiques Les tendances
gnrales de la production est leur evolution, Les ptes
(The fabrics) and Les dcors peints. The following
section on the earliest sequence of production for the
kiln considers vessel groups and other elements: Les
oules, Les cruches, Les pichets, Les formes ouvertes,
Les formes rares et les dcors exceptionnels, Col
atypique glaur and Dcors plastiques exceptionnels.
It is very easy to nd your way around and to understand
what is going on, especially when the illustrations are
so well integrated with the text. This is more than a
catalogue, however. It goes deeply into the composition
of the assemblage, exploring particular idiosyncrasies
among the pots, seeking to understand and illustrate
specic techniques of manufacture and decoration,
and pondering the wider issues that affected pottery-
making. The overall aim seems to be to gain a close
understanding of not just what the potters of Fosses
produced at different times, but also how and why.
This is really good archaeology.
The nal chapter considers the distribution of the
pottery in the le-de-France and Picardy. This is mainly
comprised of an inventory of sites, rather than an
extended discussion of quantitative evidence, and that
might be the next stage in the huge task of putting the
products of Fosses into context. That, perhaps, is not
a job that will be completed by Rmy Guadagnin. He
and his team have obviously worked hard to produce
this extensive, thoroughly comprehensive and fabulously
well presented book. It will be up to others now to use
this to identify the products of Fosses on different sites
in the region, and perhaps further aeld. There is no
doubt this was very well-made pottery, and it may well
have been taken considerable distances. I recommend
this book not only as a very useful work of reference,
but also as a demonstration of how to research and
publish a huge kiln assemblage. The team at Fosses,
I remember, were fond of Kenneth Branaghs lm
Henry V. This glorious enterprise too, is a ne
illustration of leading by example.
Andreas Heege (editor)
Topferofen pottery kilns fours de potiers: die Erforschung
fruhmittelalterlicher bis neuzietlicher Topferofen (620 Jh)
in Belgien, den Niederlanden, Deutchland, Osterreich und der
Schweiz
Basler Hefte zur Archaologie Volume 4
432 pages, 545 illustrations (line and black and white photographs),
accompanying CD with images of 1795 pottery kilns, 60
When Andreas Heege emailed me to tell me that there
was a new book on the pottery kilns of Belgium, Germany,
the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland about to be
C
published that might be
of interest to MPRG I just
knew that it had to be
reviewed! This is an
enormous multi-author
extravaganza that has
involved the work of at
least 22 different people
and is testament to the
importance of the sort
of work that is currently
being carried out across
Europe. Largely written
in the authors native tongues the various papers are
supported by a fantastic selection of photographs and
illustrations and there is an important seven page
summary in English by Andreas Heege which comes
to some interesting and important conclusions. To top it
all off the accompanying CD contains photographs and
illustrations of 1795 pottery kilns! To those us ceramic
specialists who have a particular interest in technology
and manufacturing techniques this book
is a godsend and I highly recommend it.
Kevin Leahy
Interrupting the pots: the excavation of Cleatham
Anglo-Saxon cemetery
This work is perhaps a perfect example of the
difculties of attempting to carry out important
archaeological research in the face of the somewhat
grotesque imperatives of the modern heritage industry.
It is a report on what is the third-largest Anglo-Saxon
cremation cemetery ever to have been excavated in
England. The site in question was excavated between
1984 and 1989, with the work carried out entirely by
volunteers, often working in dreadful conditions.
Between them, they rescued 1204 cremation urns and
62 inhumations, with an estimated 260-odd burials lost
to the plough by the time of excavation. If not for the
intervention of Kevin Leahy and his team, the entire
cemetery would by now have probably been ploughed
away, and would exist only as smashed pots, scattered
bones and metal fragments in the topsoil, with the only
possible record of this extremely important site perhaps
being a distribution plot of unstratied non-ferrous
objects, assuming that the nders had bothered to
report them.
As anyone who has worked with early Anglo-Saxon
pottery will know, the area of chronology is one with
many uncertainties. This site offers, perhaps for the
rst time in many years, a key to its understanding. Its
unusual topography meant that burial had taken place
is a very limited area, and thus many urns were inserted
into places were others had already been buried, resulting
in long stratigraphic sequences, and an unparalleled
opportunity to establish a reliable, dated typological
series for cremation urns. It is likely to be unique in this,
especially when the attrition rate of buried archaeology
in eastern England is taken into account.
Some aspects of the post-excavation phase, such as
the conservation of the metal nds, the drawing of the
nds, the colour photographs, the cost of publication
and the on-line archiving were aided with piecemeal
grants from various private and public bodies, but the
bulk of the project was again carried out by unpaid
volunteers.
The most glaring omission from the volume is a lack
of any analysis of the cremated human bone as it proved
impossible to raise funds for this crucial part of the
project from any major public body. In the authors
own words As Cleatham is the only phased, large
Anglo-Saxon cemetery in England, if not in Europe, the
failure of funding bodies to support this, the nal aspect
of the project, can only be described as scandalous. I
entirely agree. Kevin and his team have brought this site
to publication on a shoe-string, for which they must be
highly commended but it must now be a priority to all
those working on the archaeology of this period to
lobby for funding to complete the analysis of a site
which appears crucial to our understanding of the
archaeology of what is arguably the most important
and denitely the least-understood period of post-
Roman England.
Kevin Leahys starting point with the analysis of
the pottery is an overview of previous work on such
material. He successfully identies most of the major
aws in J N L Myres work, particularly the largely
subjective nature of most of his classications of form,
and his cleaning up of the decorative schemes utilized
by early Anglo-Saxon potters.
The main thrust of Leahys pottery analysis is the
examination of the different aspects of the cremation
urns (in terms of form, decoration etc) with respect to
the stratigraphy, to allow the denition of a develop-
mental sequence, and it established fairly convincingly
that decorative style, in terms of the combination of
motifs (incised decoration, bosses and stamping) is
the most rewarding area for study.
One small potential worry was the method which
Leahy has used to establish stratigraphic associations
between the urns; he states that problems were
encountered in distinguishing archaeological features
on the site and it was rarely possible to dene the edges
of urn pits. In the case where one urn cut another,
then a stratigraphic relationship of earlier and later
is obviously established, but the worry is with his
associated urns. Basically, if two urns were found
close together with their bases at the same level, then
they were assumed to have been buried together, and
thus contemporary. On a site were identication of
archaeological features was extremely difcult, and
where the urns were packed in far more densely than
is normal, it is surely possible that non-contemporary
urns would end up close together. However, once his
developmental stylistic sequence was established, it
was tested by plugging-in the dates of diagnostic
50
artefacts found with the urns, and these suggest that
his use of associated urns in the matrix worked; early
artefact types generally occur with early style urns,
and so on.
There is also the problem of multiple burials in
the same urn. The fact that a fairly high proportion
of Anglo-Saxon cremations contain the bones of more
than one individual suggests that there was at least in
some cases a time lapse between the insertion of the
two individuals and nal burial. The fact that no
funding was forthcoming for the analysis of the
cremations means that any possibility of identifying
urns containing more than one individual was not
possible, despite the implications that this may have.
This aside, the production of a developmental
sequence of decoration was achieved, and it has thrown
up some fascinating results, not least of which is the
fact that wheel-thrown and kiln red Romano-British
pottery was still in use, and perhaps even still being
made, in the late 5th century, and the implication that
some Romano-British cremation cemeteries, or at least
some of the burials in them, are in fact sub-Roman.
Not all the urns at the site could be accommodated
by Leahys classication, but an impressive 96.5%
were; importantly, he also analysed the urns from
other cremation cemeteries in eastern England and
found that in all cases, the majority of the urns would
t into his classication, with over 80% of all but one
of the cemeteries accommodated. Clearly, this work
signies real progress in the classication of decorated
early Anglo-Saxon pottery. There are problems, but not
of the analysts making. It has been shown in the past
by Richards (1987) that there are grounds to suspect
that the size, shape and style of Anglo-Saxon cremation
urns were inuenced by the age and gender of those
contained within them. Thus, it is entirely possible,
that within Leahys runs of contemporary urns, we
are seeing differentiated age/gender considerations, or
indeed single/multiple burials. As there was no funding
for skeletal analysis, there is simply no way of knowing
if this is the case.
At the end of the book, Leahy ags up a number of
aspects of the analysis of the excavated material that he
was unable to carry out due to the lack of nancial
support. Correspondence Analysis of the urns and the
contained artefacts is agged up, and a similar analysis
of the age and gender of the deceased with the decorative
styles of their burial containers would doubtless also
prove useful. Lack of time and funding also precluded
spatial analysis and scientic dating. This is all
understandable in the light of the problems which
were encountered during the process of bringing
this important site to publication.
This is a remarkable report, not merely for the
important conclusions reached, but also for that fact
that it was brought to publication with virtually no help
from those national bodies charged with the distribution
of public funds in archaeology. Simply bringing a project
of this size and complexity to publication in such
circumstances is an achievement for which Kevin and
his team should be warmly congratulated, and indeed,
thanked. It is certainly a valuable, and perhaps crucial
step forward in the understanding of Anglo-Saxon
cremation pottery, and it is to be hoped that in future,
the work for which Kevin was unable to obtain funding
will be carried out.
The main thrust of Leahys pottery analysis is the
examination of the different aspects of the cremation
urns (in terms of form, decoration etc) with respect
to the stratigraphy, to allow the denition of a
developmental sequence, and it established fairly
convincingly that decorative style, in terms of the
combination of motifs (incised decoration, bosses
and stamping) is the most rewarding area for study.
One small potential worry was the method which
Leahy has used to establish stratigraphic associations
between the urns; he states that problems were
encountered in distinguishing archaeological features
on the site and it was rarely possible to dene the edges
of urn pits. In the case where one urn cut another,
then a stratigraphic relationship of earlier and later
is obviously established, but the worry is with his
associated urns. Basically, if two urns were found
close together with their bases at the same level, then
they were assumed to have been buried together, and
thus contemporary. On a site were identication of
archaeological features was extremely difcult, and
where the urns were packed in far more densely than
is normal, it is surely possible that non-contemporary
urns would end up close together. However, once his
developmental stylistic sequence was established, it was
tested by plugging-in the dates of diagnostic artefacts
found with the urns, and these suggest that his use of
associated urns in the matrix worked; early artefact
types generally occur with early style urns, and so on.
There is also the problem of multiple burials in the
same urn. The fact that a fairly high proportion of
Anglo-Saxon cremations contain the bones of more
than one individual suggests that there was at least
in some cases a time lapse between the insertion of
the two individuals and nal burial. The fact that
no funding was forthcoming for the analysis of the
cremations means that any possibility of identifying
urns containing more than one individual was not
possible, despite the implications that this may have.
This aside, the production of a developmental
sequence of decoration was achieved, and it has
thrown up some fascinating results, not least of which
is the fact that wheel-thrown and kiln red Romano-
British pottery was still in use, and perhaps even still
being made, in the late 5th century, and the implication
that some Romano-British cremation cemeteries, or at
least some of the burials in them, are in fact sub-Roman.
Not all the urns at the site could be accommodated
by Leahys classication, but an impressive 96.5% were;
importantly, he also analysed the urns from other
cremation cemeteries in eastern England and found
that in all cases, the majority of the urns would t into
Reviews 51
52
his classication, with over 80% of all but one of the
cemeteries accommodated. Clearly, this work signies
real progress in the classication of decorated early
Anglo-Saxon pottery. There are problems, but not of
the analysts making. It has been shown in the past by
Richards (1987) that there are grounds to suspect that
the size, shape and style of Anglo-Saxon cremation
urns were inuenced by the age and gender of those
contained within them. Thus, it is entirely possible,
that within Leahys runs of contemporary urns, we
are seeing differentiated age/gender considerations, or
indeed single/multiple burials. As there was no funding
for skeletal analysis, there is simply no way of knowing
if this is the case.
At the end of the book, Leahy ags up a number
of aspects of the analysis of the excavated material that
he was unable to carry out due to the lack of nancial
support. Correspondence Analysis of the urns and the
contained artefacts is agged up, and a similar analysis
of the age and gender of the deceased with the
decorative styles of their burial containers would
doubtless also prove useful. Lack of time and funding
also precluded spatial analysis and scientic dating.
This is all under-standable in the light of the problems
which were encountered during the process of bringing
this important site to publication.
This is a remarkable report, not merely for the
important conclusions reached, but also for that fact
that it was brought to publication with virtually no help
from those national bodies charged with the distribution
of public funds in archaeology. Simply bringing a project
of this size and complexity to publication in such
circumstances is an achievement for which Kevin and
his team should be warmly congratulated, and indeed,
thanked. It is certainly a valuable, and perhaps crucial
step forward in the understanding of Anglo-Saxon
cremation pottery, and it is to be hoped that in future,
the work for which Kevin was unable to obtain funding
will be carried out.
Paul Blinkhorn
References
Richards, J D, 1987, The Signicance of the Form and
Decoration of Anglo-Saxon Cremation Urns. Brit
Archaeol Rep Brit Ser 166.
Clive Orton (editor)
The pottery from medieval Novgorod and its region:
the archaeology of medieval Novgorod . Volume 1
UCL Press . 234 pages
British archaeologists,
at least most of those of
my acquaintance, know
that Novgorod is a big
medieval town in Russia
where excavations of
extraordinary longevity
have uncovered a lot of
wood. There are wooden
houses and streets, wooden
documents and a wide
range of wooden artefacts.
Novgorod was also
important as a place where trade routes converged,
including those between Scandinavia, western and
central Europe and the Near East. According to Mark
Brisbane, the editor of the Archaeology of Medieval
Novgorod Series, the import-ance of Novgorod to the
study of both early Rus and the development of Europe
cannot be over-emphasised. It is probably true to say
also that the importance of the excavations in the
progress of archaeology is fundamental. Work began
in 1932, and has continued virtually every year since.
Archaeology in Soviet times suffered its own peculiar
trials and tribulations, but the post-Glasnost coming
together of the British and Russian team that is working
on this series signals the value of this project on many
levels, not least the breaking down of cold war barriers.
This collaboration has been working for over ten years
now, and The pottery from medieval Novgorod and its
region is the rst in a series that will include volumes
on other artefacts and environmental material. The
political signicance of this publication should be borne
in mind as we consider the contents of this slim but
hefty volume. For some Russian archaeologists this is a
long-awaited opportunity to communicate their ndings
to a wide audience, and that alone is to be welcomed.
It is not clear why the pottery should be the rst
thing to be published. Of all the wonderful nds from
Novgorod the ceramics do not seem to stand out. Even
after working through the ten chapters presented here
by a variety of authors, it is hard to grasp any sort of
overall picture of what pottery actually meant to the
inhabitants of Novgorod, nor what it represents and
contributes to the study of medieval north-west Russia.
It is also difcult to gain any sense of importance to
the study of early Rus or the development of Europe,
which may be difcult to over-emphasise, but should
be brought out somehow. Perhaps the numerous authors
are part of the problem, because it is rarely easy to nd
coherency or continuity in a collection of separate
articles. There are two papers with an introductory
avour. Mark Brisbane and Clive Orton present The
Reviews 53
study of medieval ceramics from North-West Russia:
a view from the West in the rst chapter, and Orton
again offers Handling large urban assemblages and
their statistics as Chapter 6. In between, and thereafter,
we are treated to a further eight, more specic chapters
grouped under various headings.
In Chapter 1, Brisbane and Orton point up the
differences between approaches to ceramic studies
in western Europe (mainly Britain) and the more
processual line followed in Russia. The effects of Soviet
isolation on academic communication are now well
known, and those differences are no surprise, so there
is little point in focussing on them here. The authors,
to their credit, pass no comment either. They simply
describe the present position and it is apparent that
one aim of their project is to enable communication
with other specialists. The contribution from David
Gaimster, on the German stoneware, exemplies that
purpose. The rst group of papers, Chronology and
Technology includes four articles dealing with pottery
from the towns of Novgorod, Ryurik Gorodishche,
and Pskov. Each of them combines to provide an
understanding of which pottery types came and went
in the region between the 10th and 16th centuries. These
chapters are essentially descriptive, and there are few
attempts to consider what prompted observed changes,
or how the pottery might have been used. The nal
effect is to leave one wondering why this should be
of interest to archaeologists working much beyond the
Baltic region, but they are all well-ordered and thorough
pieces of work. Chapter 6, Ortons consideration of the
statistical approaches, provides a partial response, for
if nothing else, he brings the problems facing Russian
ceramicists into sharp focus. At Novgorod, one seasons
excavations alone produced 247,000 sherds, and even
if that is only around 60 sherds per cubic metre, that is
still a lot to work through. It is no surprise to nd that
ceramicists are still getting to grips with the daunting
task of characterisation. This in part explains the less
than contemplative approach of those who have worked
on this material, and the following article by O A Rud,
An attempt to classify the decoration of Novgorod
medieval pottery using material from Troitsky
excavation XI (Spits 2210), is a case in point. It seems
we might have to wait a bit longer, and certainly until
the rest of the evidence can be brought to bear, before
interpretation will really take off. Ortons paper and
the one that follows are grouped under the heading
Methodology, and it is here that the peculiarities
arising from a project of such extraordinary longevity
are most pointed. It is unlikely that statistical analysis
of pottery sherds was on the minds of those who, in
the 1930s, initiated the spit-digging approach to this
rich and complex site. Orton demonstrates that the
application of statistics can, as he puts it, bring out
previously unexpected features of the data, the
explanation of which should lead to further under-
standing of the role of ceramics in Novgorod. The
subsequent classication of decorative techniques and
motifs should therefore be recognised as the rst step
in ordering the data to allow more profound enquiry.
The nal group of three papers is headed International
contacts. This includes a paper by David Gaimster
entitled Pottery imported from the West: reception
and resistance, I V Volkovs consideration of amphorae
from Novgorod and V Y Koval on Eastern pottery from
the excavations at Novgorod. These papers may be of
interest to a wider audience than those dealing with
local products, not least because they touch on the
universal themes of long-distance exchange mechanisms
and the various requirements of traders and consumers.
A biblio-graphical index to publications on pottery
from the Ilmen region and medieval Novgorod forms
a nal section, followed by the references and index.
There is also a CD-ROM with six appendices to a few
of the papers. These are data les in Microsoft Excel
or text le formats. Not all of them appear to have keys,
and are therefore of very limited value because the
meaning of the data is not immediately apparent. The
Experimental coding of a sample of pottery from the
Troitsky XI excavations is profoundly obscure. It is
supposed to complement Ortons Chapter 6, but there
is no reference to it there.
It would not be useful here to delve into the specic
content of individual papers. All of them are well
presented, with plentiful illustrations, tables and charts.
The Russian texts were ably translated by Katherine
Judelson, and read very well. A few colour plates would
have been welcomed to give an idea of what the material
actually looks like. That, perhaps, is the main issue.
Novgorod remains a completely alien place to most of us,
and many of you will probably be wondering why you
should invest in this volume. Well, as discussed above,
this is an important step in the collaborative project
that brings together western European approaches to
the discipline with local knowledge and experience.
In those terms it is a success, mercifully untainted by
any hint of patronage or competition. You could read
this book in order to learn an awful lot about what
the pottery of Novgorod and its region looked like,
but that may not appeal to many of you. You should
read this book to extend your understanding of the
development of pottery studies on a wider scale. Parts
of it may seem naive and simplistic to some of us, but
we should take more time to pass judgement. Few of
us can claim to understand fully the experiences of the
Russian archae-ologists past and present who studied,
or study, the archaeology of Novgorod. This collection
adds up to an extensive statement of the approach to
the subject and the current level of progress. As Volkov
puts it the analysis at this time is, so far, only in its
infancy. Indeed, the whole volume carries the avour
of work being carried out with genuine pleasure, and
if you allow yourself to enjoy its warmth and depth,
then you cant help but look forward to the next
instalment.
Duncan H Brown
[page 54 / blank]
medieval ceramics News
56
President Maureen Mellor
Vice President Mark Redknapp
Secretary Anne Boyle
Assistant Secretary Andrew Sage
Treasurer Jane Holdsworth
Assistant Treasurer Nigel Jeffries
Editor Derek Hall
List of Officers and Council of the Group 2004
Co-editor Stanley Cauvain
Assistant Editor Chris Jarret
Regional Groups Officer Beverley Nenk
Meetings Secretary Duncan Brown
Continental Representative Frans Verhaege
Irish Representative Clare McCutcheon
Ordinary Members Barbara Hurmann
John Hudson
Anna Slowikowski
News 57
Accounts for year ending 31 January 2005
receipts and payments account: General Fund
income 2005 2004
subscriptions
individuals 4045.00 3472.43
institutions 861.00 1214.23
publication sales
1
journals 1382.66 410.60
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A Guide to Ceramic Forms sales 437.05 257.00
other 153.00 23.00
Conference 6113.45.00 545.00
investment income
bank interest 199.85 98.73
other
donations 220.00 792.00
grants 1480.00 960.00
loan 0 1000.00
John Hurst Fund 0 50.00
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total receipts 15054.46 8946.99
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Conference 2003 0 115.00
Conference 2004 5446.43 500.00
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2005 2004
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6644.10 4017.21
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notes
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2 Royal Bank of Scotland current and deposit accounts, Euro and US
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58
Regional Group Reports 2005
East Midlands Pottery Research Group
No meetings were held in 2005.
Contact
Jane Young
Lindsey Archaeological Services
25 West Parade
Lincoln LN1 1NW
telephone (01522) 544 554
London Area Medieval Pottery Research Group
No meetings were held by the London Group in 2005.
Contact
Nigel Jeffries
Museum of London Specialist Services
46 Eagle Wharf Road
London Nl 7ED
telephone (020) 7566 9312
North West Regional Medieval Pottery
Research Group
No meetings were held in 2005.
Contact
Julie Edwards
Chester Archaeology
27 Grosvenor Street
Chester
CH1 2DD
e-mail j.edwards@chestercc.gov. uk
Scottish Group of Medieval Ceramicists
Derek Hall reports on several projects:
Redware sourcing
Historic Scotland commissioned this follow-on to
the pilot study of 1997, and project members have
submitted the results of the ICPS analysis of brick,
tile, pottery and clay samples, and produced a vessel
typology.
Perth High Street excavations
A seminar was held on the imported pottery from the
site in October 04, with several members of MPRG
holding a round-table discussion on this important
assemblage. Research continues.
Monastic industrial sites
A Historic Scotland funded gazetteer of potential
monastic industrial sites across Scotland has
concentrated on locating industrial production centres,
including tileworks, and this will hopefully aid the
future location of pottery production sites, as it appears
to be possible that Scottish pottery manufacture started
with the introduction of the major monastic orders in
the 12th century.
Ceres, Fife
A potential pottery production centre making Scottish
White Gritty Ware has been identified near Ceres,
following a geophysical survey and thin-sectioning of
sherds. Further fieldwork may take place later this year.
Reids Pottery, Newbigging, Musselburgh
George Haggerty has completed the catalogue of the
products of this 19th century pottery, and has produced
a visually illustrated catalogue of the assemblage form
the site which should be seen as the way forward as
regards the archiving of industrial ceramics. The disc
is available from haggartyg@aol.com at the price
of postage.
Contact
Derek Hall
SUAT Ltd
55 South Methven Street
Perth
PH1 5NX
telephone (01738) 622 393
e-mail dhall@suat.co.uk
News 59
South East Midlands Pottery Research Group
(SEMPER)
East Anglian Pottery Research Group
SEMPER is a thriving regional group, working closely
with the East Anglian group. We try to hold two
meetings a year, one of which is regularly held at the
Buckinghamshire County Museum in Aylesbury and
the other at various venues in the region. One meeting
was held in 2004 and included talks on the medieval
pottery of Hertfordshire; late medieval pottery kilns
at Higham Ferrers, Northants, and Italian imports to
Narrow Street, London.
If anyone in the region (or outside!) has any ideas
for themes for meetings, or perhaps would like to host
a meeting, or would like to be put on the mailing list,
please contact:
Anna Slowikowski
Albion Archaeology,
St Marys Church,
St Marys Street,
Bedford
MK42 0AS
telephone (01234) 294 005
e-mail a.slowikowski@albion-arch.com
South Central Medieval Pottery Research Group
No meetings were held in 2005.
Contact
Lorraine Mepham
Wessex Archaeology
Portway House, Old Sarum Park
Salisbury
SP4 6EP
telephone (01722) 326 867
South West Region Medieval Pottery
Research Group
Mike Ponsford for the South-West group reports that the
annual experimental kiln project at Bickley ran, as usual,
in August, organised by Oliver Kent and David Dawson.
The most important project for future work
is the publication of the Barnstaple kilns and pottery
and this has been selected as of the highest importance,
nationally and internationally, in the Regional
Framework for the south-west.
Contact
Mike Ponsford
12 Seymour Road, Bishopston
BristolBS7 9HR
telephone (0117) 985 8109
Welsh Medieval Pottery Research Group
No meetings were held in 2005.
Contact
Steve Sell
c/o Glamorgan Gwent Archaeological Trust
Ferrybridge Warehouse
Bath Lane, Swansea
SA1 1RD
or Mark Redknap
Dept Archaeology and Numismatics Natrional Museum
and Gallery Cathays Park, Cardiff
CF1 3NP
telephone (02920) 573 223
60
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62
Illustrations
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