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The Roman Pottery of Kent by Dr Richard J. Pollard  -  Chapter 2  page 7
Doctoral thesis completed in 1982, published 1988

PROBLEMS AND METHODS

1.  THE SELECTION OF A STUDY REGION

The region to be studied must satisfy two criteria, if it is to justify the research conducted on it. The first, and obvious, criterion is that there must be available sufficient material to provide wide and fairly even coverage of the spatial and temporal parameters defined. The second criterion is that the region must have well-defined boundaries, provided by topography or settlement pattern; without such boundaries it is difficult to decide upon the spatial limits of the area within which data are to be collected, for settlement zones will tend to merge with one another at their peripheries. Local artefact dispersal patterns are most easily discernible within a self-contained region, which suffers comparatively little interference from neighbouring regions. Modern political boundaries are rarely meaningful in terms of the topography or the ancient settlement pattern; they cut across the boundaries of these features more often than they respect them. The historic borders of the county of Kent are an exception to this generalisation. The Thames Estuary and the English Channel wash the north, east, and south-east shores of the county, and the sparsely populated High Weald provides the southern boundary. To the north-west the London Clay of what is now south-east London was apparently thinly inhabited also (Pollard 1977; Sheldon and .Schaaf 1978). The lower Thames is a less satisfactory

boundary as the Essex and Kent sides are part of the same topographic zone. In consequence a selection of sites in south Essex was included in the research programme. The same can be said of the Surrey border, which cuts across the chalk and clay-with-flints of the North Downs. However, few major excavations have been conducted inside Surrey east of the roadside settlement at Ewell, over 15 km. inside the Surrey border (Graham 1936; Keulemans 1963; Little 1961, 1964 are published exceptions); a convenient, albeit false, settlement zone boundary can thus be drawn between the Roman roads from London to Brighton and Lewes (Margary 1973, routes 150 and 14 respectively).
   The region thus defined comprises somewhat more than 400 km.of land, of which a large proportion was apparently only thinly settled in the Roman period (Ordnance Survey 1978). Within the more populous areas  the river valleys through the North Downs, the Thames and Medway lowlands at the foot of the Downs, and the area between the Thames Estuary and the Straits of Dover a large quantity of archaeological evidence has been recorded, including much pottery of all four centuries of the Roman occupation. A wide range of settlement types is

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