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The Roman Pottery of Kent
by Dr Richard J. Pollard  -  Chapter 6  page 182
Doctoral thesis completed in 1982, published 1988

order to extend the potting season into colder, damper months. Wheel-houses are also constructed. A wide variety of types of ware, conforming to set standards of forms and fabrics, is common, with some specialisation of individual workshops in particular forms and/or fabrics. The focus for nucleation may be an urban centre or a rural area, supplying widespread markets.
   The boundaries between these modes of production are blurred: the turntable characteristic of the household industry can, if heavy enough, be used for finishing pots in a manner more commonly associated with the wheel, and both modes are engaged in coarse ‘kitchen’ ware production. The scattered kiln sites along the Thames Estuary producing BB2 and other grey wares resemble individual workshop concerns, perhaps peripatetic, but their marketing patterns are more akin to those of nucleated industries.
   The lowest level of production has been termed household production, a mode geared towards the self-sufficiency of the individual household with little exchange of vessels between households. Technology is low, and may leave no archaeological record other than the completed pots themselves. The recognition of this mode of production in an archaeological context must rest on detailed fabric and construction analyses in the hope of demonstrating contrasts between sites and correspondences between fabric compositions and locally available materials. The chances of this mode being recognisable from the kind of analysis conducted by the present author on Roman pottery in Kent are thus slim.
   The manufactory by way of contrast was, in the western Empire, the preserve of the giant fine ware industries 

particularly of Gaul and northern Italy. The essence is the association of a large number of individuals under a supervisor, often with a ‘production line’ organisation. The proprietor/slave relationship attested by stamps of the Arezzo industry mark this industry out as the most likely contender for the title of manufactory (Peacock 1982). The largest Romano-British industries, including those of Oxfordshire, are considered by Peacock (ibid.) to fall within the category of ‘nucleated workshops’ rather than manufactories.
   Estate production is likely to have been geared primarily towards ceramic building materials for intra-estate consumption, with a commercial role developing in time. The production of ceramics by the estate itself must be distinguished from production by tenants for their own purposes, commercial or otherwise.


The practical problems of recognising this mode in the archaeological record are exacerbated by the apparent existence of a villa-estate economy over most of the Roman period in the valleys and coastal plain of north-west Kent at least, if not throughout the county. The differentiation of estate from household products may lie in the nature of the pottery itself, fine and specialised types being produced under orders from the owner or his agent, and coarse utilitarian wares on the initiative of the workers for their own immediate needs. The mid third-century grog-tempered ware from the Maidstone Mount villa (4.IV.2) may be one example of a household product.

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