KENT ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY  -- RESEARCH   Studying and sharing Kent's past      Homepage

The Roman Pottery of Kent
by Dr Richard J. Pollard  -  Chapter 5  page 177
Doctoral thesis completed in 1982, published 1988

Rawreth is apparently devoid of BB2 (Drury 1977, 40). The loss of long-distance markets, coupled with increasing pressure from the Alice Holt industry to the west and from the competitive hand-made grog-tempered ware to the east, evidently proved fatal for the north Kent potteries. Their decline may well have set in earlier in the third century, for from then on the kiln sites themselves disappear from the archaeological record: the latest kiln known of is Kiln A at Oakleigh Farm, Higham (Catherall 1983), dated to the mid-third century.


1. Introduction

The existence of potters at Canterbury was first demonstrated in 1939, when a kiln was excavated under salvage conditions during the construction of a wartime shelter (Webster 1940). Since that time another six industrial sites around the city have been recorded under salvage or rescue conditions (Swan 1984, 390—3), from which a history of the industry can be deduced covering the first 150 years of the province. The Canterbury potteries are a classic example of an urban industry, but despite this have received little or no attention in standard works on Romano-British pottery (e.g. Webster 1976; Swan 1975a).

2. Origins

Two groups of potters can be recognised in pre-Flavian Canterbury. Salvage excavations to the south of the city at Stuppington Lane (Bennett et al. 1980) recorded a kiln associated with coarse sandy ware jars and bowls of essentially late Iron Age inspiration. This ware comprises 

between 5 per cent and 13 per cent of pre-Flavian assemblages from the Marlowe Car Park sites in Canterbury (Pollard forthcoming, d), but has not been recognised beyond the city. It may have developed from local ‘Aylesford-Swarling’ grog-tempered ware, kiln sites for which remain undetected. The latter ware has been found within one kiln, but it cannot be certain that it was fired therein rather than being incorporated in backfill or even as baffles (Jenkins 1956a, fig. 8, nos. 27—29, 31—32).
   The second group of potters is known to have worked on two sites, at Reed Avenue (unpublished; noted in Jenkins 1966a; and Swan 1984, 392) and at St. Stephen’s Road, Area II (Jenkins 1956a). The grey wares and misfired flagons (nos. 47—57) find close parallels in the Gallo-Roman pottery of the Nord/Pas-de-Calais region of France (Tuffreau-Libre 1980a; Richardson and Tyers 1984, ‘vases tronconiques’; 4.I.3 above), but are absent from Camulodunum (cf. Hawkes and Hull, Form 242, however), and from first-century legionary sites in the Midlands and West, which are associated with Rhineland-derived forms (Greene 1973; Frere and St. Joseph 1974; Bidwell 1977; Darling 1977). The ‘Hofheim’ flagon (no. 56) is an exception, being ubiquitous in pre-Flavian Britain and the Rhineland (Gose 1950, Types 362—364; Greene 1973; cf. Hawkes and Hull 1947, Forms 136 and 140). It seems likely that this pottery was produced by craftsmen who migrated to Kent during the reign of Nero, attracted by the new markets Canterbury and the military supply base at Richborough (see Pollard forthcoming, d, for further discussion). They achieved a similar market share in the city to the Stuppington Lane potters, though their operations may have extended into the Flavian period, up to c. A.D. 80.

Page 177

Page 176      Back to Chapter 5    Contents Page         Page 178

For details about the advantages of membership of the Kent Archaeological Society   click here

Back to Publications On-line               Back to Research Page            Back to Homepage                 

Kent Archaeological Society is a registered charity number 223382
© Kent Archaeological Society 2004

This website is constructed by enthusiastic amateurs. Any errors noticed by other researchers will be to gratefully received so that we can amend our pages to give as accurate a record as possible. Please send details too