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The Roman Pottery of Kent
by Dr Richard J. Pollard  -  Chapter 2  page 22
Doctoral thesis completed in 1982, published 1988

   The term ‘fine’ in the present study includes the following wares: samian; colour-coated wares; glazed wares; ‘Parchment wares’; mica-dusted wares; wares with sparse (cf. Orton 1977a) inclusions/temper, whether slipped or unslipped; wares in which the only inclusions present in more than sparse quantities are minerals not thought to have been used as temper, e.g. mica and fine iron ores; Hadham oxidised wares; Gallo-Belgic slipped wares including those with abundant quartz sand.
   ‘Coarse’ wares include reduced, oxidised and white fabrics with moderate or abundant inclusions possibly used as temper, whether unslipped or coated in a white, grey or black slip. This definition thus includes BB2, Highgate Wood type wares, and Alice Holt wares, (but cf. the reservations expressed above). The inclusion of Hadham oxidised wares in the ‘fine’ category is contentious; the similarity of the bowl forms to late colour-coated ware types and the variety of decorative motifs employed have been considered to outweigh the presence of abundant quartz sand in the fabric as determinants of classification. The ‘Aylesford-Swarling’ grog-tempered forms discussed above are also included in the ‘coarse ware’ category for the purposes of description and quantification of Romano-British assemblages, along with the simpler forms such as bead-rim neckless jars (no. 25 here) and neck-cordoned jars (nos. 26—29). The apparently homogeneous late Iron Age assemblages have not been divided into ‘fine’ and ‘coarse’ wares.


1. Single Assemblages
It is not a primary objective of this study to elucidate the nature of contexts through the study of their ceramic assemblages, although a hierarchy of sites could be

constructed on the basis of, for example, the proportion of fine to coarse wares or exotic to local wares, which might be meaningful in terms of the prosperity or range of contacts of the inhabitants. Nevertheless, the quantified assemblages have been divided up into four categories of pottery: fine wares, coarse wares, mortaria, and amphorae. The purpose of this approach is to facilitate the comparison of wares which, it may be hypothesised, were subject to similar pressures of supply and demand. It would seem reasonable to suggest that fine wares for the table operated within a different’ ‘sphere of exchange’ to coarse wares for use in kitchen and pantry, and thus that the two were not in direct competition with each other, except perhaps where the most impoverished households were concerned. The proportion of ‘fine’ to ‘coarse’ wares can vary considerably between assemblages of the same or different periods, and may be important as a measure of wealth and contact. However, if the comparative success on the market of, say, Oxfordshire and Nene Valley colour-coated wares is to be measured, it is useful to treat these and the remainder of the fine wares in isolation from coarse wares. Mortaria are specialised vessels which often exhibit distribution patterns that are noticeably different with those of other vessels from the same source (e.g. Brockley Hill: see Appendix 3; Oxfordshire wares — Young 1977a); for this reason they have been isolated from the remainder of assemblages. Amphorae have been similarly treated because they, too, are specialised vessels at least in their original function of long-distance bulk carriers.
   The maxim established by Orton (1978, 401—2) should be borne in mind when interpreting quantified data: ‘one cannot usefully say by itself "75% of the pottery at site X is Oxfordshire

Page 22

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