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The Roman Pottery of Kent
by Dr Richard J. Pollard  -  Chapter 6  page 195
Doctoral thesis completed in 1982, published 1988

Rodwell has argued that the salt industry of south-east Essex was imposed on the landscape by Roman state intervention (1979, 160—6), and by the implications of a coincident emergence of the industry on the Kent side of the Thames (in the later first century A.D.) and the extension of rectilinear systems of land division across the Thames from the Grays-Thurrock area to Cliffe; this must, by the logic behind the argument, apply also to parts of north Kent (though this is not explicitly stated). The theory is untestable against present evidence; the ‘imperial estate’ has often been seized upon as an explanation for voids in villa distribution, and for the expansion or creation of extractive industries and, in consequence, its validity as a concept has been undermined.

3. Other Industries

A fourth major industrial activity attested in the archaeological record concerns the extraction and working of iron. The extractive processes are also best carried out in dry weather, but tend to occur in areas of low agricultural value, such as the High Weald of Kent and Sussex.
   There is no conclusive evidence to suggest the combination of pottery-making with iron extraction in the Weald. However, the coarse, low-technology ‘East Sussex Ware’ could have been produced on iron-extraction sites or centres such as Bardown (cf. Cleere 1970) and Garden Hill without leaving any archaeological trace. The evidence for both pottery and iron-working industries at Wakerley, Northants. (Jackson and Ambrose 1978) suggests that these two industries did co-exist on rural sites alongside agricultural activities, although the dating evidence for iron-working at Wakerley is insufficient for contemporaneity with potting to be confirmed. A bloomery is known to lie in the vicinity of the tile kiln and grey ware pottery wasters

excavated at Great Cansiron Farm, East Sussex (Rudling 1986).


A variety of exchange mechanisms may have operated in distributing the products of the pottery industries of Roman Britain (Renfrew 1977, 9). The potter’s home or workshop, a permanent market place such as a forum or macellum, a rural fair or a religious centre all have the potential to act as places of formal exchange involving pottery. The identification of such a place in the archaeological record is problematic, however; the two clear examples in Britain are at Wroxeter (Atkinson 1970) and Colchester (Hull 1958), in the forum and shops respectively (cf. Pollard 1983a, 417—22). The concept of a middleman has been introduced above (see also Hassall 1978); he may have taken on the task of trading the pots at the exchange places, or taken them directly to the customer, for example a military quartermaster. The potter himself may have peddled his wares during the course of a peripatetic production circuit or in special journeys (cf. Fulford 1975a, 122 and fig. 55). It would be impossible to distinguish itinerant peddling from itinerant production in the archaeological record, if the commodities being distributed did not require permanent equipment to produce them, and peddling from a series of production sites established in itinerant fashion is also feasible (see Pollard 1983a, 422—73 for extensive analysis of patterns of distribution in Kent). Renfrew’s fifth model, that of the producer taking his wares to some central agency, which assigns him goods in exchange (1977, 10), might be adapted to fit the hypothesis of a tenant paying his rent in pots, wherein the

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