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Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Short Mound ceramics - parallels?

Looking for parallels for the ceramics over which the Short Mound was stratified: (Romano-British) wheel-turned, local grey ware 'imitation BBI' bowl, with incised interior decoration. Sandy, hard fired fabric, possibly comparable with the later Gloucester T5 fabric? If there's anyone out there undertaking work on local grey wares that may have come across something similar, please let me know!

Here's what I've found out so far (please let me know of any errors!):

Analysis by Ruth Leary of Trent and Peak Archaeology determined that being wheel-made, it was not of the BBI Dorset typology and was atypical due to its internal obtuse lattice decoration. Examples of internally decorated Black Burnished ware are infrequently noted in finds reports, although a local, unprovenanced, example (Malvernian fabric) exists in the archive of Gloucester City Museum, although this has additional lattice decoration on the base and. This example is in a form that perhaps pre-dates early Roman BBI,[i] giving a 2nd century t.a.q. However, its form is incomparable to the Crickley bowl, and is produced in Malvernian fabric, whereas the Crickley is macroscopically similar to the late Gloucester T5,[ii] a non-local sandy, hard fabric, although more certain T5 from Crickley (CH77 4218) differed microscopically, in the density of mica within the fabric. This suggests that this sherd was a regional import, whereas the bowl is likely to have been produced locally, fitting the local fabric group.[iii] It was therefore concluded that this was more likely to be a local imitation, as opposed to an early descendant of BBI. A further example of internal lattice may be found on an local BBI bowl from Henley Wood, Somerset, executed in a local grey ware. Although unstratified, comparison with vessels in a similar fabric suggests a 3rd/4th-century date (Leach and Watts 1996: 98, figure 95, p.105, no. 25).

The site report for the Roman Tilery site at St. Oswald’s Priory, Gloucester (Heighway and Parker 1982: 25-77), indicates the presence of local wheel-made BBI pottery in hard, sandy fabric from sub-Roman levels (ibid. 46). Further examples of later local BBI were sought. Local production of Roman pottery has been noted with increasing frequency at the end of the Roman state in Britain, possibly continuing in some regions into the 6th century, with 5th century forms of BBI recognised (Dark 1996: 58-59; 2000: 108, 141; Gerrard 2004).

Various centres have produced examples of BBI in local Grey Ware fabric, including the Thames Estuary region and a separate fabric noted in the South of Britain (Tyres 1996: 182). Distribution of BBI had reached the South, West, and lower Severn Valley by the late 4thGloucester, with manufacture in Severn Valley Ware fabric. Distinctive fabrics were noted from Cirencester (type 49 and 74) and Gloucester (type TF4, TF11B, TF11D, TF17, TF220) (ibid. 185; 197-9). century, with distribution of South Eastern Dorset BBI reaching

It has been established that the Oxford Ware industry had developed a tradition of imitation BBI (Young 1977: 205) to include the ‘dog-bowl’ form similar to that from Crickley. Later versions included the type R53, which bears a similarity to the form of the Crickley bowl, and has been dated to AD 240-400+ (ibid. 221, fig. 82). However, the Crickley example bears traces of a second beading on the rim, of which the most comparable example is from Birdoswold, dated to c. AD 350-400 (Gillam 1968: 71, no. 321), although this form is deeper. This latter form gained popularity during the later Roman period, with all kiln finds extant from the end of the 4th century or later, with local production possibly limited to the end of the Roman period (Young 1977: 206). Kiln sites include Cowley, St. Luke’s Road, Allen’s Pit, Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, Churchill and Foxcombe Hill, Dorchester and Garsington, Sandford and Shakenoak, Oxfordshire, the latter datable to c. AD350-420 and AD350-400 (ibid. 247, 248, 252, 352).

Further examples of BBI from late 4th – early 5th century levels are not unknown, the most notable examples being located at Poundbury, Dorset (Sparey-Green 1996: 123). Sparey-Green also notes the association at Colliton Park, Dorset of late Roman coin hoards with BBI, in 5thBarnsley Park, including two examples of good imitations. The phase 10 (5th century) levels yielded 2196 sherds of BBI, with sherds of local BBI and Grey Ware of similar form to the Crickley bowl (Webster and Smith, 1982: 156-164). The conclusion to be drawn would be that a date after the 5th century should be considered for the Short Mound. century deposits (ibid.142). Nine-hundred and fifty-six sherds of BBI from the phase 9 levels (c. AD 400+) were located from the Gloucestershire villa site at

[i] Pers. comm. Phil Greatorix, Gloucester Excavation Unit.

[ii] Pers. comm. Alan Vince; J. Timby (1986: 63). Non-local grey coarse ware, wheel made micaceous. C3 introduction into Gloucester, increasingly found in the 4th century. Many forms copies of BB1. See also the Wiltshire fabric c (see Rogers and Roddham 1991: 55-56).

[iii] Pers. comm. Ron Firman.