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The Roman Pottery of Kent
by Dr Richard J. Pollard  -  Chapter 4  page 160
Doctoral thesis completed in 1982, published 1988


The end of the fourth century would appear to have seen eight fabrics in large-scale usage in Kent, five imported and three local or possibly local. The former were Oxfordshire red- and white-slip, and plain white wares, Nene Valley colour-coated ware, and Alice Holt neutral-slip grey ware; the latter, late Roman grog-tempered, ‘Alice Holt type’ sand-tempered grey ware (in east Kent) and miscellaneous sand-tempered grey wares (possibly more common in west and central districts than in the east). Of these, the most abundant were Oxfordshire red colour-coated and late Roman grog-tempered wares, which together may have comprised up to 80 per cent of pottery assemblages in east Kent, perhaps somewhat less in the west (Appendix 5). Other wares in quite extensive use included Much Hadham, Argonne, ‘Portchester "D" and Mayen, all imports (Figs. 34, 51, 52, 61 and 68). Thus, quite a wide range of wares from a number of different industries would appear to have been available in the final decades of the diocese in Kent. The disappearance of this pottery, and its eventual replacement in the archaeological record by Germanic styles, presents one of the great enigmas of Roman pottery studies in the south-east of Britain.
   There is very little evidence that can be adduced to show the contemporary usage of ‘Romano-British’ and ‘Germanic’ pottery in Kent. Occasionally, Roman vessels have been found in Germanic cemeteries, for example a second-century ring-necked flagon in the Bifrons cemetery (Maidstone Museum), or vice versa; a Germanic beaker of a style known as ‘Anglo-Frisian’ (a term now considered to be obsolete: Mainman, pers. comm.) from the site of the Roman cemetery at St. Sepulchre’s in Canterbury (Kelly and Myres 1973), and two vessels from Preston-near-
Wingham (Myers 1944, nos. 1 and 2) may be cited. However, it is by no means certain that, these extraordinary 

coincidences are not the result of temporally separate interments, rather than of the cohabitation of Roman and German or the use of one’s pottery by the other. The two cemeteries of Roman origin containing Germanic material were open in the late third-fourth, if not the early fifth, century (Brent 1861, no. 11; Dowker 1893, no. 7), and their location may have thus been known to fifth-century inhabitants of these areas. At least three other sites east of the Medway have revealed both Roman and Germanic pottery: Canterbury (e.g. Frere 1966; Mainman forthcoming), Wingham (Myres 1944; Jenkins 1965; 1966b; 1967) and Hartlip (Myres 1944). Anglo-Saxon Grübenhäuser of varying dates have been found elsewhere, for example at Darenth and Keston in west Kent (Philp 1973) and Dover (Philp, undated). Some of the Wingham pottery came from within the aisled building, but may represent nothing more than a re-occupation of a partially-upstanding structure offering some shelter, as happened in Canterbury.
   Stylistically and technologically, there is little overlap between Romano-British and Germanic pottery in Kent. The earliest Germanic pottery in Canterbury is sandy, sometimes with a moderate or abundant admix of chalk, possibly reflecting the exploitation of local brickearths (Mainman forthcoming). Although hand-made and probably fired in a clamp or bonfire, and thus having some similarities with late Roman grog-tempered ware, the forms are different, including bead-rim and biconical jars, often with grooved chevrons or grouped vertical lines (ibid., and Frere 1966, fig. 18). The squat globular recurved-rim jar is common to both late Roman grog-tempered and Germanic sand/chalk-tempered ware, but this form is so simple that this may be fortuitous. The use of grog is virtually unknown in Saxon period wares from Canterbury, implying a fundamental technological change from late Roman practice. A single

Page 160

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