5.6.1 Ceramics

A photograph showing three ceramic pots of different sizes and a rounded jug with a handle

Pottery vessels made locally at the forts of Inveresk and Elginhaugh.©NMS

There has been growing evidence for the local production of pottery vessels (Breeze 1986 reviews the position to that date). In the first century, the army might make its own pottery. At Elginhaugh, for example, quite a high percentage of the coarseware, including mortaria, was produced locally on the basis of wasters, the mass of pottery, distinctive fabrics and the forms they are linked with, though no kilns were discovered. The sub-standard workmanship of some of the coarseware suggests that it was produced by the military themselves to compensate for deficiencies in long distance supply (Dore 2007). Several different civilian potters of continental or southern British origin, including a newly identified potter, were involved in the production of the mortaria (Hartley 2007). Camelon appears to have been one of the forts supplied with mortaria and presumably other pottery by the Elginhaugh workshop. Stamped mortaria made at Elginhaugh have also been identified at Carlisle (2), Castleford and Ribchester, which must indicate either troop movements or specific visits by military personnel. During the second century, some civilian potters moved north and worked outside some forts or became involved in what were to all intents and purposes, multi-potter workshops. One of these, Sarrius, had a workshop at Bearsden, and also had two other subsidiary workshops further south (Buckland, Hartley and Rigby 2001, 45-47; Breeze in prep). The three workshops, may or may not have functioned at the same time, but his major workshop outside Manduessedum in Warwickshire was active throughout all of their minor productions. There is evidence to suggest that the extent of distribution for potters working in Scotland varied from those with a very localised distribution to those with a quite extensive one eg Newstead (Hartley 1976). The multi-potter workshops at Elginhaugh, probably at Bearsden and putatively at Newstead indicate that pottery production was definitely linked in some way to the army.

The pottery from all sites in the Antonine occupation includes pottery brought into Scotland, as well as a greater or smaller amount of pottery made in Scotland (of which Inveresk Ware is the best-known example; Swan 1988). It was easier to recognize mortaria made in Scotland in the Antonine period because so many are stamped, but there is growing evidence, especially in view of the multi-potter workshop at Elginhaugh that something similar may be true for the Flavian occupation. This is more difficult to judge because fewer of the vessels involved were stamped. Most of the mortaria made at Elginhaugh were, of course, unstamped, but because there are so many preserved and there is a point to work from, it should be possible to trace the site’s products at other locations in order to get some idea of what the distribution area was.

Of other ceramic material, Bailey’s ongoing work on tile production along the Wall has identified distinctive and often unconscious “signatures” in keying patterns, allowing particular production sites to be identified. This has shown that some sites were supplying material to others (Bailey 2004), and the process merits fuller study.

Re-examination of older assemblages for evidence of local production is an important future area of research. How much distribution of local products is there beyond the immediate site? E.g. where does Inveresk Ware go? Scientific analysis might be of value here, as the analysis of Medieval redwares proved most beneficial in provenancing studies (Chenery et al. 2011).

Production and procurement patterns for brick and tile require further research.

Prospection for kiln sites (e.g. geophysical survey), and excavation should be encouraged.

Comments 1

  1. Camelon: excavations by GUARD Archaeology in 2014
    Excavations by GUARD Archaeology in 2014 in advance of development near Falkirk revealed significant archaeological remains and finds including Roman pottery, metalwork and metalworking waste associated with the southern annexe of Camelon Roman Fort. Analyses of these finds sheds new light upon life during the early stages of settlement outside a Roman Fort in central Scotland. The report, ARO22: Outside the walls: Excavations within the annexe at Camelon Roman Fort, is available as a PDF from http://www.archaeologyreportsonline.com/PDF/ARO22_Redbrae_Road.pdf

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