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

The Roman Pottery of Kent
by Dr Richard J. Pollard  -  Chapter 6  page 183
Doctoral thesis completed in 1982, published 1988


1. Known Kilns

The simple kilns recorded by Ian Jackson on the Upchurch Marshes (Jackson 1962; 1972/3; Swan 1984) were associated with pottery described as ‘hand-made’, flint-and grog-tempered. A localised distribution of flint-tempered ware in the mid-first century A.D. around the Medway estuary and western Swale has been plotted (Fig. 17; 4.1.2), which with the evidence of kilns and the fabrics themselves is suggestive of a household industry.

2. Postulated Household Industries: regional Traders

The study of Romano-British pottery in Kent has brought to light a number of coarse wares whose fabric characteristics and distribution patterns are consistent with the model of household industry production. The bulk of this pottery is datable to the first and to the late third to early fifth century, but the intervening period is nowhere devoid of such material. The wares include, in the early period, shelly, sandy and ‘Patch Grove’ wares in west Kent and grog- and flint-tempered wares in central and east Kent (Chapters 3, 4.1—II). Grog-and flint-tempered pottery is also a feature of the late Roman period, the latter primarily at Canterbury, the former throughout Kent at least from the Cray Valley eastwards (4.IV, 4.V). Such pottery tends to be fairly soft and either coil-built or at least of an appearance suggestive of construction on a turntable. Storage jars and smaller jars are particularly common, the former occurring in non-sandy, non-wheel-thrown wares throughout the Roman period in all parts of Kent (and also in southern Essex). Platters, necked bowls, cups and flagons are forms mainly of the

 first century and dishes mainly of the late period. Two kiln sites in Essex may be linked with the production of shelly and sandy wares in the late first century A.D. (Mucking: M.U. Jones 1974; and Tilbury Gun Hill: Drury and Rodwell 1973) but, apart from the Upchurch kilns, no production centres have been recorded in Kent. A handful of ‘Belgic’ grog-tempered vessels were recovered from the furnace of a kiln at Canterbury dateable to the mid-first century A.D. (Jenkins 1956a, fig. 8, nos. 27—29, 31—2), but it is more likely that they were incorporated in the backfill (St. Stephen’s Area II kiln). Whilst it is possible that kilns for the firing of ‘Patch Grove’, late Roman grog-tempered and the other wares listed above may yet be discovered, it is at least equally likely that they were fired in clamps or bonfires, leaving little archaeological trace.
   Extensive patterns of distribution have been uncovered for several of these wares (e.g. Figs. 17, 20, 31, and 45), with a high intensity of usage of any one ware on sites several kilometres apart (Appendix 5). These could reflect itinerancy of production or peddling of vessels manufactured at one place, or other mechanisms of dispersal (6.X, and Pollard 1983a, 415—417). The isolation of the Essex ‘graffito’ jars (Jones 1972) as a group within the southern Essex/west Kent/east Surrey ‘shelly bead-rim jar’ tradition carries the implication that in at least one instance a ‘household industry’ ware was produced by a number of different potters working to the same or similar specifications at a distance from one another rather than by a single community with extensive exchange connections. Other examples of ‘local variations’ on a tradition include the Thanet fine sandy and Medway marshes flint-tempered versions of the ‘Aylesford-Swarling’ furrowed ware (4.1.3), and the Port Lympne ‘grog plus miscellaneous

Page 183

Page 182     Back to Chapter 6    Contents Page         Page 184

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