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The Roman Pottery of Kent
by Dr Richard J. Pollard  -  Chapter 4  page 35
Doctoral thesis completed in 1982, published 1988

Chapter 4

Pottery of the Roman Period in Kent



The aim of this chapter is to describe the main trends in forms and fabrics that have been perceived in assemblages from modern Kent. The Roman period has been divided for convenience into five chronological blocks: the pre- to early-Flavian, late Flavian to Trajanic, and Hadrianic to Severan periods, the third century, and the fourth and early fifth centuries. Each of these ‘sub-periods’ witnessed changes in the composition of assemblages, the nature of which varied from period to period, and from region to region across Kent. These changes can seldom be given a narrow date-range of occurrence, owing to the generally poor quality of the stratigraphy of sites and the low incidence of independently-dateable objects such as coins. It is perhaps unlikely that transformations of fashion would have been rapid in a craft as traditionally conservative as potting except when economically expedient. High quality decorative fine wares may provide exceptions to this rule; for example, Greene (1979a, 17) has proposed that ‘a sudden expansion must have occurred around AD 40, both in manufacture, distribution, and the range of forms produced’ in Lyon colour-coated ware. Further, the hemispherical cup form produced by a wide range of mid-first century A.D. Continental (and British) fine ware industries virtually

disappeared around A.D. 70 as a result of ‘a combination of changing fashions and economic disruption’ (ibid., 139). The Lyon industry provides a rare instance of a rapid decline that is detectable in the archaeological record, owing in all probability to a series of turbulent events in the 60s A.D. that disrupted both its production and distribution centre and its principal markets (ibid., 141). Gallo-Belgic wares and forms provide a second example of a rapid demise, the ‘traditional’ cup and plate forms (e.g. Hawkes and Hull 1947; Rigby 1973) disappearing rapidly in the Flavian period (Greene 1979a, 118, citing evidence from the Neronian legionary fortress at Usk).
   The fine pottery of each period is described for the modern county as a whole. The major wares exhibit little or no differentiation in distribution either spatially or temporally across Kent that can be detected from the present evidence. However, wares from the London area and Hertfordshire-Essex tend to be distributed primarily in west Kent (e.g. Staines ware — Fig. 21, and Hadham oxidised ware — Figs. 34 and 51), while wares from the English Channel regions such as New Forest and Pevensey late colour-coated wares are found mainly in east and south-east Kent. These distributions are nevertheless best discussed on a county-wide level. The

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