Fun and fabrics at the Roman pottery conference

In July, members of the Study Group for Roman pottery, students, researchers and others interested in Roman Britain and its ceramics came together for the study group’s annual conference, which this year was held at the Red Lion Hotel in Atherstone in Warwickshire. The location was a special one, as the neighbouring village of Mancetter was the site of a major pottery industry, whose products were distributed widely in the Roman province.

The three-day conference began with scene-setting talks about the archaeology of Mancetter and the wider region. Delegates then heard about pottery assemblages from recently excavated sites in Warwickshire and Leicestershire. These were followed by a pottery-viewing session, which gave attendees an opportunity to examine pottery from Mancetter, the Lunt cemetery and elsewhere.

Roman pottery laid out for viewing

The day ended with a wine reception. In the convivial surroundings of the Red Lion Hotel, Rob Perrin, President of the Study Group, welcomed the guest of honour to the conference, Mayor of Atherstone Carl Gurney, who in turn welcomed delegates to the town.

Mayor of Atherstone, Carl Gurney, speaking to conference attendees

On the second day, delegates learnt more about the Mancetter pottery industry. Renowned mortarium expert Kay Hartley spoke in detail about the Mancetter industry, its products and potters. This was a masterclass and everyone was busy taking notes! Attendees also heard about glass production at Mancetter, as well as a project to update the significant archive relating to past excavations in and around village and make it more accessible. The talks were followed by papers on the pottery of Roman Leicester, scientific analysis of mortaria from Castleford, and excavations at Roman Wall, the last being a useful introduction to the site ahead of the afternoon’s tour.

The conference location is in an area full of Roman archaeology, and consquently delegates had a packed afternoon seeing the sights. After a very welcome and enjoyable lunch at the Heritage Cafe in Mancetter church, we began inevitably with a visit to the site of the Mancetter kilns. Today there is nothing to see on the ground, but our guide, Mike Hodder, brought the past brilliantly to life. We then reboarded the coach and headed to Wall for a tour of the Roman town, parts of which are still standing. The small museum in the village was well worth a visit, too, and we were also treated to a cream tea in the village hall, as well as a talk on lids and ceramic plates.

A tour of Roman Wall, led by Mike Hodder

On the third and final day of the conference, delegates had an update on a project to digitise and catalogue thousands of mortarium stamps. They also heard about pottery production in the City of London and in the London Borough of Havering. There was also a paper about organic residue analysis of pottery from Lincolnshire (it turns out that so-called cheese-presses may not have been cheese-presses after all), and the conference closed with a personal view about current and future samian studies, which gave everyone pause for thought.

This was a fantastic, well-organised conference, with hugely interesting papers, a really enjoyable tour and a wonderful location and venue. Next year – Leicester. See you there!

SGRP annual conference 2019: programme and booking details

Roman pottery kiln Hartshill
A kiln at Hartshill under excavation (photo: Paul Booth)

This year’s SGRP conference will take place at Atherstone, Warwickshire, on the weekend of 5th-7th July, starting on Friday afternoon and finishing at lunchtime on Sunday.

Atherstone is situated on Watling Street, near to the pottery kiln sites at Mancetter and Hartshill. This pottery industry forms the main focus of the weekend, but other papers will look at the wider regional context and pottery production elsewhere.

The conference venue, accommodation and meals will all be at the Red Lion Hotel, an independently owned coaching inn dating back to the early 1500s.

Click the link below for more details about the conference programme and how to book.

SGRP Annual Conference 2019

Grey ware jars from the Mancetter kilns

This year’s SGRP conference will take place on the weekend of July 5th-7th, from Friday lunchtime to Sunday lunchtime. It is being held at the Red Lion Inn in Atherstone in Warwickshire, near to Mancetter and Hartshill, on Watling Street.

The conference will draw a number of themes together: there will be a focus on Mancetter-Hartshill (the excavations, archive, pottery and glass production) and other production sites; other sites along Watling street (in particular Wall) and other regional assemblages. The Saturday afternoon trip will start at the site of the Mancetter kilns and then move up Watling Street to Wall.

Offers of papers are welcomed, and need not be tied to the conference theme. Please send them to the SGRP Secretary. Details about booking and prices will be posted here in due course.

Portchester D ware – request for information

Katie Mountain is an MA student at Newcastle University, working on a study under the supervision of SGRP member Dr James Gerrard on Portchester D/Overwey white ware. Katie is looking at the distribution of the ware and would like information on further find spots to determine the extent of its distribution.

Katie has reasonable coverage of the south-east and is now looking for outliers, in particular in areas such as Gloucestershire, Shropshire, Midlands, East Anglia/Fenland. The ware appears as far north-west as Wroxeter and east into Colne Fen, and Katie is now searching now for sites in between.

While there may be issues with potential lack of recognition outside the general distribution area and with the various fabric aliases, and any information on find spots within the areas stated above would be greatly appreciated and acknowledged.

If anyone has information, please email Katie by 15th December. Click here for contact details. Click here for more details about the ware.

Pottery specialists assemble for SGRP’s annual conference

Roman pottery specialists gathered at the King’s Centre in Oxford in June for the annual conference of the Study Group for Roman pottery.

The theme of the meeting was late Roman pottery, though talks were not confined to that topic. Paul Booth from Oxford Archaeology began proceedings with an introduction to late Roman Oxfordshire. Edward Biddulph, also of Oxford Archaeology, was next with a talk on the later Roman pottery from the roadside settlement at Berryfields in Aylesbury. Malcolm Lyne rounded the morning session off with a talk on a late Roman kiln from Canterbury. After coffee break, delegates heard about pottery from Southwark, courtesy of PCA’s Enikő Hudák, and Jane Timby then talked about pottery from rural Gloucestershire. Isobel Thompson followed with a talk on aspects of regionality in the types and distribution of grog-tempered ware in south-eastern Britain.

After lunch, there was an opportunity to view pottery assemblages brought by some of the group’s members. Attendees were treated to groups of colour-coated wares and white ware mortaria from Oxford-region kiln sites (the original excavator and Oxford industry expert Christopher Young was on hand to answer questions), as well as pottery from west Oxfordshire, the New Forest and elsewhere.

The group’s annual general meeting, held as part of the conference, was a chance to present Christopher Young, the group’s outgoing president, with a replica face-pot in gratitude for his hard work in the post.

The day closed with a talk by Christopher on how to put the Oxford industry back on the map and make it relevant to schools and the local community. The following day, Christopher led a smaller group of Study Group members on a tour of North Leigh Roman villa and the pottery collections at the county museum in Woodstock.

All in all, a successful weekend. We would like to thank the King’s Centre for hosting the Study Group and providing a superb lunch, and Archaeopress and BAR Publishing for their book stalls.

Oxford pottery industry luminaries Christopher Young (front) and Paul Booth (middle) at North Leigh villa (Photo: Jane Timby)

SGRP Conference 2018 – timetable and registration details

Study Group for Roman Pottery Annual Conference
Saturday 16th June – Sunday 17th June 2018

Venue: The King’s Centre, Osney Mead, Oxford

Theme: Late Roman Pottery and other ceramic matters

This year the SGRP conference will be a one-day conference with an optional second day and is being held at the Kings Centre, Osney Mead, Oxford, OX2 0ES. This is easily accessible by car and train and is located close to Oxford Archaeology. On Saturday we will combining lectures with pottery handling and a ‘pottery ‘road-show’ where you can bring along your query colour-coats and we can disagree as to what they are. On the Sunday we will arrange a guided tour of North Leigh Roman villa from where we will go to Woodstock where there are plenty of eating places to suit all pockets followed by the opportunity to visit the Oxfordshire Museum at Woodstock before returning to Oxford.

Click the link below to download the timetable, venue and accommondation details and the registration form:

SGRP Conference Oxford 2018: Timetable and registration (pdf)

 

SGRP Conference 2018 – Call for Papers

Bowl in Oxford red/brown colour-coated ware (Photo: Paul Booth)

Study Group for Roman Pottery Annual Conference
Saturday 16th June – Sunday 17th June 2018
Venue: The King’s Centre, Osney Mead, Oxford
Theme: Late Roman Pottery

This year the SGRP conference will be a one-day conference with an optional second day and is being held at the Kings Centre, Oxford. On Saturday we will be combining lectures with pottery handling and a pottery ‘road-show’, where attendees can bring along query colour-coated wares. On Sunday, we will be aiming to visit North Leigh Roman villa and the County Museum, Woodstock. Watch this space for more details.

We would like to invite short papers (20 mins) on the subject of late Roman pottery. Please send any offers of papers to the SGRP secretary.

An interesting pottery query

An interesting query came through to Study Group members by way of website’s comment form. Keith Lowndes, a member of the South Oxfordshire Archaeological Group (SOAG), asked:

“I was wondering if you could advise me as to a contact relating to a translation of a motto on a Trier motto beaker. It has the letters ‘A M A N T I D A’. We cannot match it to any motto. Various suggestions for a translation have been put forward – ‘I/they love to give’, ‘Give to your lover’. Any help would be appreciated.”

The vessel in question had been found on a site excavated by SOAG in Oxfordshire, and the query was circulated to Study Group members. Responses soon came in thick and fast.

The Rhenish ware beaker from Trier found by SOAG’s Anne Strick. Photo: (c) SOAG

“…it is to do with drinking to a girlfriend. ‘Here’s looking at you baby’ for older readers. I suppose ‘Give to the loving’ literally.”
“‘Da’ is the singular of the command form meaning ‘give’, which can be placed either first or last. The word ‘amanti’ does not signify gender of the person ‘loving’, but it is in the dative case, meaning therefore to the person loving = ‘to the lover’. The word ‘your’ may be presumed, and therefore it may be translated, ‘Give to your lover’ – whatever his/her gender.”
“AMANTI (dative of amans, lover) DA (imperative of dato/dare, to give), so ‘Give to the lover!’, as already suggested.”
“I read the inscription DA AMANTI and agree with [the] translation: ‘Give to your lover’.”
“’DA’ can to be understood in an erotic or in an ambiguous sense. The imperative ‘DA’ has more often this context on the Trierer Spruchbecher, for example ‘DA MI(hi)’.”
“This is definitely the two words ‘amanti da’: ‘give to a lover’ (or ‘give to your lover’).”
“The question is, who is being addressed, a giver or a receiver? It doesn’t say ‘give me’ or ‘give this’, though that seems to be the meaning. But there could also be innuendo here, since the phrase can mean ‘grant it to your lover’”

Thank you to everyone who responded, and thank you, too, to Keith Lowndes for getting in touch. Keith has also drawn our attention to another Rhenish ware beaker found by SOAG. This second vessel is on the SOAG website and can be viewed in 3D.

Carlisle 2017: A view of the SGRP conference

The annual conference of the Study Group for Roman Pottery was held this year at Tullie House Museum in Carlisle. During a weekend in July, delegates heard talks on Roman pottery from Carlisle, other sites in north-west England, and the results of work on larger projects, both in Britain and abroad.

There was also a visit to the Roman fort of Vindolanda, where delegates were treated to a guided tour by Andrew Birley, CEO of The Vindolanda Trust, and the firing of a replica Roman kiln, built by experimental archaeologist and potter, Graham Taylor. There was just about time, too, for a walk along the wall from Gilsland to Birdoswald on Hadrian’s Wall.

Every year at the conference, the John Gillam Prize is awarded to a piece of recent work that has made an important contribution to Roman pottery studies. This year’s prize was awarded to Edward Biddulph, Joyce Compton and Scott Martin for their work on the late Iron Age and Roman assemblage from Elms Farm, Heybridge.

By all accounts, the conference was a great success. Thanks are owed to the staff of the Tullie House Museum for hosting the conference, and to Stephen Wadeson, supported by the SGRP Committee, for organising the weekend.

Conference gallery (photos by David Bird, Diana Briscoe, Joyce Compton, and Stephen Wadeson)

The tour of Vindolanda

The Kiln firing

SGRP 2017 Roman Pottery Conference – now booking

Black burnished ware-type dish made in Carlisle (c) Oxford Archaeology

This year the SGRP conference will be held in the City of Carlisle, and will be a full weekend combining lectures, pottery handling, site tours, and food. The SGRP last visited Carlisle in 1999, and in the intervening period a large number of excavations both in Carlisle and the surrounding landscape have taken place.

Over the weekend the group will be addressing several themes, including the Roman pottery of Carlisle, North West Britain and pottery from larger projects and international sites.

The conference will be located at Tullie House for all three days. On Friday evening there will be a wine reception at Tullie House with access to the Roman Frontier Gallery, while on Saturday afternoon site visits will include a guided tour at the Roman Fort of Vindolanda by Andrew Birley. The visit will also include a firing of a replica Roman pottery kiln by Graham Taylor.

The conference promises to an exciting one, and early booking is recommended. Click on the link below to download the conference programme, booking form, and information about prices, accommodation and bursaries.

SGRP Conference 2017: Tullie House, Carlisle. Conference information

Information for attendees wishing to pay their conference booking by bank transfer