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The Roman Pottery of Kent
by Dr Richard J. Pollard  -  Chapter 6  page 194
Doctoral thesis completed in 1982, published 1988

Lowther’s research was conducted specifically on flue-tiles; the dating evidence available to him suggested the main period of production to be c. A.D. 80—150. The use of tiles in the construction of the pre-Flavian kiln at St. Stephen’s Road (Jenkins 1956a) implies an early start for the Canterbury industry, while the filling of the stokehole pit of the pottery and tile kilns on Area I at this site is given a terminus post quem by two pieces of later second-century samian (ibid., 50); the filling of the vertical flues of the tile kiln at Whitehall Gardens included a coin of Geta (c. A.D. 211—12; Jenkins 1960, 155). The Canterbury tileries lasted at least as long as the structurally-attested pottery industry, therefore, from the pre-Flavian to the Severan periods. Structural evidence from within Canterbury suggests that tiles were used in building construction into the fourth century (Blockley and Day forthcoming). The links between Canterbury and Essex are of interest in that they reflect the strong typological links binding the pottery of Kent and Essex; however, these links are primarily with west Kent and the military bases of the Channel, rather than with Canterbury itself. Colchester mortaria and BB2 are attested at Canterbury in the second century. Drury has suggested that Chelmsford derived most of its tile from the Ashtead area (quoted in Johnston and Williams 1979, 384). Small quantities of early Alice Holt wares are also found at Chelmsford as are fourth-century Alice Holt wares. The absence of attested Ashtead flue-tiles from Kent may be compared with the rarity of Surrey pottery of first- to mid third-century date in the latter county, excluding what is now Greater London. It is not suggested that Ashtead tiles and Alice Holt pottery were necessarily transported and sold together, much less that their production was in the same hands. Nevertheless, the evidence of the two industries is mutually supporting in implying a lack of movement from west Surrey to Kent of low value industrial products in the first two centuries A.D. The comparative insularity of the 

Canterbury pottery industry of Flavian to Antonine date is also paralleled by the evidence of flue-tiles (dies 41—43). It is perhaps significant that the Classis Britannica elected to manufacture its own tiles in Kent and/or East Sussex rather than rely solely on purchases from Canterbury, as the pottery evidence shows that, at Dover, Canterbury grey wares were also spurned from at least the mid- to late second century (4.III.3), while they never gained a foothold in East Sussex markets.

2. The Salt Industry

The main areas, of ‘red hills’, mounds of fire-reddened debris of the salt industry, in Kent coincide with those of pottery manufacture — the western part of the Cliffe peninsula and around the Medway estuary (Miles 1975), although this is not the case in southern Essex (Rodwell 1979, 151). Rodwell has considered that the Thames-mouth salt industry ‘was organised in small, compact units’ (ibid., 161) associated in Kent with black-burnished pottery production and in Essex with ‘a distinctive type of very coarse shell-tempered storage jar’, presumably of the type here termed ‘Thames Estuary’ (Rodwell 1966a, fig. 7, no. 1; no. 16 here). The latter is associated with kiln debris at Tilbury Gun Hill (Drury and Rodwell 1973), but not elsewhere. Rodwell speculates that these vessels may have been ‘made cheaply on site, for the storage and transportation of crystalline salt’ (1979, 161) alongside briquetage evaporating pans. This hypothesis would certainly fit the observed distribution of this type of storage jar (Fig. 31; cf. Pollard 1983a, 279—81), including, as it does, a number of sites accessible by creek or river from the Thames but also a handful of sites well inland, where salt must have been at a premium (e.g. Great Cansiron in the Weald, and Coulsdon and Otford on the line of the North Downs scarp).

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