Research Strategy for the Study of Roman Pottery – Project Design

A Research Strategy and Updated Agenda for the Study of Roman Pottery in Britain: Project Design on behalf of The Study Group for Roman Pottery

1. Summary_description

The project seeks to update the existing Research Framework and Agenda and to compile, for the first time, a strategy
which takes into account recent developments, ties the framework firmly
into other regional and national research frameworks and sets out
sector-driven priorities which will further archaeological research.

2. Background

The Study Group for Roman Pottery (SGRP) produced
a Research Framework for the study of Roman Pottery in 1997 following
two years of work by selected members of the Group. The document
contained a National Research Framework and four regional research
frameworks for the North of Britain, Southern England, the East
and East Anglia and Western Britain.

A few changes were made to the regional
research frameworks in c. 2002 prior to the
documents being
posted on the Group’s website ( and the National Framework
was updated by Steve Willis, with contributions from four other SGRP
members, in 2003 (Journal of Roman Pottery Studies (JRPS) Vol. 11). The
changes to the regional research frameworks were fairly minimal so, in
effect, these documents are over ten years old. The 2003 update of the
National Framework added references to publications, studies and
research since 1997, revised many sections, added some new sections and
updated much of the rest. This document will not, therefore, require
level of revision anticipated for the Regional Frameworks, but a
update after 5 years would be appropriate.

Most importantly, neither the original
documents, nor their updates, include a research strategy. The absence
of a strategy was noted as a crucial omission by Adrian Olivier in his
comments on the original document, though he was otherwise
about the document and the effort that the Group had put into producing
it. At the time he stated that

“I would
be happy to support the relatively modest costs that this (producing
a strategy)
might require in addition to providing support
for its

Over the last ten
years considerable progress has been made in Roman pottery studies and
many of the recommendations in the framework document have been
at both national and regional level. It is now time to build on that
success and to produce an updated agenda and a strategy which takes
account recent developments, ties the framework firmly into other
regional and national research frameworks, and sets out sector driven
priorities which will further archaeological research.

3. Aims

To produce an updated assessment of the
discipline of Roman pottery studies.

To review and update the current
research agenda.

To produce a strategy, agreed by
the sector and containing clear, firm priorities. This will be reviewed
annually and refreshed on a five-year basis.

4. Objectives

a) To
undertake an updated assessment of the current status of the Roman
pottery studies sector comprising:

The human resource: including the
numbers of people involved, work and specialist areas, age
range, means of employment, location, infrastructure.

Training and support: Identifying skills
lacunae and needs, courses, local or regional research

Source material: Including the
availability and accessibility of local reference collections,
published material and grey literature, and archives.

Analysis and reporting methodologies: Differing
approaches and standards.

Supporting analysis: Including fabric
analysis, residue analysis and statistical analysis.

b) To compile an
updated research agenda.

Assessing achievements since the last research
agenda, areas in the previous research agenda not

addressed and new
areas or developments.

c) To produce
a strategy in consultation with the wider discipline, identifying

programmes and projects within the research agenda and
possible resources and

funding streams.

5. Business

  • The importance of stimulating and promoting research
    through the
    development of a soundstrategy for the future of Roman Pottery
  • The need to bring the research framework for Roman
    Pottery into
    line with current practice forresearch framework documentation.
  • The need to link into relevant national, regional and
    frameworks in order to facilitateresearch and aid the planning
  • The resultant framework will address SHAPE Research
    G2: Defining the questions:Devising research strategies,
    frameworks and agendas. Sub-programme name: Supporting

    research frameworks: National, regional, local, diachronic and thematic

    Sub-programme number 11172.110.

6. Project

The project is primarily concerned with Roman
pottery studies but will take account of and link to
other relevant
agenda and strategies, especially in respect of shared aims and
The number, status, usefulness and use of
reference collections will be assessed though the quality
will not.
No visits to reference collections will be undertaken
The project will include work undertaken in
Scotland. It will seek to include work undertaken in Wales, if
possible, depending on support from Cadw.

7. Interfaces

Regional and national period and specialist
research frameworks and current initiatives. Special reference to the
Roman strategy and the post-Roman research strategy
in preparation).


The project team will liaise regularly via
e-mail, ‘phone, post and at meetings.

Steering Group meetings will be held at
milestones within the project timetable or at not less than 3 month

Highlight reports will be provided at
points for the Steering Group and the Project Assurance


Members of the SGRP will be kept
informed through
the Group’s Newsletter and website. The website

will be used to
provide progress reports and to allow discussion and debate,
especially for the wider

sector. This will be facilitated by means
of a ‘blog’ and through ‘Google docs’ or a similar


Seminars and/or sessions will be
arranged at
relevant fora.

9. Project

The project will be reviewed at each Steering
Group meeting which will take place at milestones
within the project
timetable or at not less than 3 month intervals.

Monitoring meetings will be held with
the Project
Assurance officer who will authorise any acceptable

and appropriate
changes to the project.

Health and Safety

The Project Manager will follow the national guidance on health and
safety advocated by the IFA.

Resources and Programming

Project Team Structure

The project will be overseen by a Steering Group (SG) of the SGRP who
will also provide academic
overview and advice.
The Steering Group may co-opt additional members or others to assist

The Project Executive (PE) will be Dr Roberta
Tomber who will oversee the conduct of the project and
the delivery
of outcomes on behalf of the SGRP.
The project will be undertaken on behalf of the
group by Rob Perrin who will act as Project Manager

(PM), will
undertake most of the project tasks and will provide highlight
reports for the SGRP and
English Heritage.

Web design will be carried out by David
Dearlove (DD)
of the SGRP and JRPS publication aspects will be
carried out by the
SGRP JRPS editorial team.

A list of Steering Group members and
consultees is given in the Appendix.

Methods Statement

a): Undertake an assessment of the current status of the Roman
pottery studies sector

A list of consultees will be compiled based on the current
SGRP membership list augmented by
information provided by
university archaeological departments.

The consultees will be contacted via e-mail, directly or
otherwise and their responses will be analysed to provide
information on numbers of people involved, employment status,
age range, location, infrastructure, skill areas, current
initiatives, studies and research, potential lacunae and
shortages, training provision and needs. This will build on and
be compared with the previous survey by SGRP
member Andrew Peachey. Information on members new to the Group will be

In addition to a published literature search, the
literature review will comprise the analysis of
information from HERs, OASIS, the ADS grey literature library, the
Investigations Project at Bournemouth University, the on-line
JRPS bibliography, other on-line data (see ‘New
areas or developments’
in objective (b), below) and
consultation with regional colleagues, local government officers and
university departments. SGRP members who contribute to the JRPS

bibliography will be consulted.

A questionnaire will be circulated to assess existing
reference collections in terms of how many there are, where they
are, who is nominated to curate them, whether they are actively
updated and curated in practice and how easy they are to use.

The results will be collated and presented at appropriate
seminars or sessions and disseminated via the SGRP website.

The results will be used to stimulate discussion and help
with the identification of strategy priorities.

The results will form a section in the final report.

Objective b): To compile an updated research agenda.

Assessing achievements since last Research Agenda:
A published and grey literature review will assess relevant
publications and other documents which have appeared post
1997/2003. This will take account of the bibliographic section
complied for JRPS.

Work in progress will be assessed, and will include the
results of a questionnaire on ‘current status’
circulated to all consultees.

Consultation of members of the SGRP, especially those who were
involved in the production of the original framework documents.

These will identify key publications, initiatives or research and
specific aspects such as progress with
typologies, methodologies and
kiln studies and will summarise developments since 1997/2003.

The achievements will be assessed against the
issues, aspects and recommendations outlined in the
1997 and 2003 documents and in the light of the recommendations of the
Fulford-Huddlestone report. This will identify those which have been
addressed to some
degree and/or which can be considered to have been adequately covered.

Areas in previous Research Agenda not addressed:
The issues, aspects and recommendations outlined
in the 1997 and 2003 documents and in the Fulford-Huddlestone report
which have not been addressed at all or have not been adequately
covered will be identified.

New areas or developments The assessment
will consider new key resources
that have become available (see objective (a) above)
and initiatives in progress or planned such as:

Timby and Rigby’s Gallo-Belgic pottery database


Paul Tyers’ POTSHERD website

Samian Research Framework and new samian ware online resources



Hartley and Tomber’s Mortarium bibliography


Digital National Roman Fabric Reference Collection


Website of Roman Kilns based on Vivien Swan’s publication
(in progress)


Worcestershire Online Pottery Form and Fabric database,


Interim consultations

Regular contact will be set
up with representatives of the
Medieval Pottery Research Group (MPRG) and other professional groups.

The SGRP website will be used to provide progress reports and an
interactive mechanism utilizing a ‘blog’ and ‘Google docs’
(or an equivalent) will be established to allow discussion and
debate for the wider archaeological sector, including other
specialist pottery and finds groups, universities, voluntary
societies, curators and contractors.


A report on the results of Objectives 1 and 2 will
be compiled and circulated.

Objective c): To produce a strategy in consultation
with the wider
discipline, identifying prioritised programmes and projects
within the Research Agenda and possible resources and funding

The Steering Group will compile an initial list of
strategic priorities based on the revised agenda
incorporating comments and advice from lead consultees.

The initial list will be edited into a coherent draft strategy.

A draft strategy will be circulated to SGRP members and
stakeholders in advance of a seminar.

The draft strategy will be discussed with representatives of the MPRG.

A day seminar will be arranged and hosted to debate and refine
the initial list and identify key research strategies to cover an
initial 5-year period.

A final draft strategy will be edited and produced.

The draft final strategy will be circulated to members and
stakeholders and placed on the SGRP website.

Comments will be incorporated into a final agenda and strategy
document for sign off by Steering Group.

The revised agenda and strategy will be launched at the
following annual SGRP meeting.

The revised agenda and strategy will be placed on the SGRP
website and published in JRPS.

Papers on the revised agendas and strategies of the SGRP and
MPRG will be given at the following IFA conference.

Progress against the strategy priorities will be assessed
annually by the SGRP committee who will also review the strategy on a
five-year basis.

Stages, Products and Tasks


<>Task name


<>1 <>Preparation for 1st Steering
Group meeting
<>2 <>1st Steering Group meeting <>SG; PM;
<>3 <>Prepare list of consultees <>SG; PM
<>4 <>Prepare ‘status of discipline’
<>SG; PM
<>5 <>Prepare reference collection
<>SG; PM
<>6 <>Circulate to consultees* <>PM
<>7 <>Contact Research Framework and Agenda authors
and bibliography contributors *
<>8 <>Project assurance meeting <>PM;PAO;PE
<>9 <>Literature review <>PM
<>10 <>Liaison with key specialists
(see Appendix)
<>11 <>Attend regional meetings <>PM;SGRP
<>12 <>Analysis of discipline
questionnaire results
<>13 <>Analysis of reference
collection questionnaire
<>14 <>Prepare draft report on current
status of
<>15 <>Prepare report on results of
literature review
and existing RF updates
<>16 <>Circulate reports to Steering

<>17 <>2nd Steering Group meeting <>SG;PM;PE
<>18 <>Produce draft Research Agenda <>SG;PM
<>19 <>Establish ‘blog’ and ‘Google
facility for reports and draft Research Agenda to allow comments
<>20 <>Organise seminar <>PM
<>21 <>Hold seminar <>SG;SGRP;PM
<>22 <>Project assurance meeting <>PM;PAO;PE
<>23 <>Edit reports and Research
Agenda following
circulation and seminar comment
<>24 <>Produce final Research Agenda
<>25 <>Circulate and web mount
Research Agenda

<>26 <>3rd Steering Group meeting <>SG;PM;PE
<>27 <>Discuss and identify mechanisms
for keeping
Research Agenda and Research Strategy updated
<>28 <>Produce draft Research Strategy <>SG;PM
<>29 <>Circulate and mount draft
Research Strategy
for comments
<>30 <>Organise seminar <>PM
<>31 <>Hold seminar <>SG;SGRP;PM
<>32 <>Project assurance meeting <>PM;PAO;PE
<>33 <>Edit Research Strategy
following circulation
and seminar comment
<>34 <>Produce draft final Research
Strategy report
<>35 <>Circulate final Research Agenda
and Research
Strategy to Steering Group and Project Executive for comment
<>36 <>Produce final Research Agenda
and Research
Strategy reports

<>37 <>Circulate final Research Agenda
and Research
Strategy to Steering Group for sign off
<>38 <>Circulate and web mount final
Research Agenda and Research Strategy
<>39 <>Prepare Research Agenda and
Research Strategy
for publication in JRPS
<>40 <>Project assurance meeting <>PM;PAO;PE
<>41 <>Collate and deposit archive
with ADS
<>42 <>Prepare presentations for SGRP
and IFA
<>43 <>Deliver IFA presentation <>PM
<>44 <>Launch at SGRP conference <>SG;SGRP;PM

* circulation/comment
by e-mail, ‘blog/wiki/Google docs’, or hard copy as necessary


The revised Research Agenda and new Research Strategy will
be published as a hard copy article in
the JRPS and made available free of charge
through the SGRP website in pdf format.

The Research Strategy will have a section covering the breadth
of work ongoing, as well as potential
work for which funding may be sought. This will
include what organisations and individuals feel
they are able to accomplish during this period.

The results of the questionnaires will also be lodged on the
SGRP website.

The project archive will be lodged with the ADS.

12. Ownership

The SGRP will retain intellectual ownership of the
Research Agenda and Research Strategy but will

grant licence to English Heritage to use the
information as they require.

The existence of these documents will be actively promoted
through appropriate professional websites.

For the five-year period of the strategy the SGRP will
assess progress annually and will also review
the strategy at the end of the period.

13. Risk Log

<>Risk No <>Description <>Probability <>Impact <>Counter Measures
<>1 <>Availability of PM <>Low <>High <>Time variation
<>2 <>Availability of SG members <>Low <>Medium <>Alternatives
<>3 <>Availability of key consultees <>Low to medium <>Medium <>Alternatives

14. Timetable

The project will commence in July 2009 and will finish
with the official ‘launch’ of the documents at

the Study Group conference in July 2010.

It is currently anticipated that regional meetings will take
place in September/October, the seminar on
the revised Research Agenda in December/January
and the seminar on the Research Strategy in

Other contributions

Historic Scotland (for work undertaken in Scotland)

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