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The Roman Pottery of Kent
by Dr Richard J. Pollard  -  Chapter 6  page 190
Doctoral thesis completed in 1982, published 1988

of an entrepreneur. The Flavian expansion of the Canterbury industry involved the adoption of a style, which can be seen in part or whole in several other late first-century urban-orientated industries, including Brockley Hill, London, Silchester, and Leicester. The reeded rim bowl is a ubiquitous element (no. 70), but forms of jar, flagon, jug and dish (e.g. nos. 64, 68—70, 73, 74) can also be found in some or all of these industries (Pollard 1983a, 365—83). It is more likely that these all responded to an external stimulus than that they were in direct contact with one another. The fact that this ‘urban style’ was not universally adopted (cf. Fig. 24) demands the rejection of a simple diffusion model for the spread of fashions in pottery forms.


The recognition of a considerable number of small settlements and farmsteads, associated with small groups of kilns producing identical wares over a century and more, around the Thames estuary has led to the proposition that the activity of professional itinerant potters is here represented (Rodwell 1974, 35). This hypothesis was forwarded with specific reference to material from Orsett and Mucking, two sites only 2—3 km. apart on the Thurrock gravel plateau. The hypothesis was supported by the evidence of roller-stamps of very similar, if not the same, die being used at both sites. Such stamps were not apparently used at other kiln sites, such as Higham, Cooling and Billericay, although in the latter case at least this may be a function of the time-span of production. While this negative evidence and the typological differences also observed between Kent and Essex wares (Pollard 1983a; 1983b, 134—8) should not be taken as invalidating the hypothesis, it suggests that any such peripatetic activity

was conducted only at a parochial level, respecting the natural boundary of the Thames to the south and east. Peripatetic production has also been adduced by Drury (1976b, 258) in respect of the ‘Rettendon’ sand-flint tempered wares of the late third to early fifth century in mid-Essex, kiln sites producing which are scattered over an area of eastern-mid Essex some 25 km. in length. Drury has observed minor typological differences between the sites, which might be a function of space, time or both factors.
   Peacock (1982, 9) has observed that peripatetic production is particularly useful to individual workshop potters serving dispersed markets and also to potters producing cumbersome, low-value items such as storage jars or ceramic building materials. The former seldom carry distinctive stamps, although basic motifs such as finger-tip decoration (‘Patch Grove’ ware) and combed herringbone, chevron and wavy line patterns interspersed with zones of slip (Alice Holt) can often be recognised and might be interpreted as a deliberate expression of identity of source. Bricks and tiles are often stamped, however, and itinerancy has not infrequently been proposed to explain dispersed distribution (e.g. Lowther 1948; McWhirr and Viner 1978, 369—71). The movements of mortaria and samian manufacturers are well-attested by stamps, although movements in one direction only tend to be the rule rather than circuit-tours (cf. Hartley 1973a; 1976; 1977).
   There are no clear examples of possible itinerancy within Kent itself, although the potters of the Q. Valerius Verarnus and 0. Valenus Se. . . groups of first-century mortaria may have moved to Kent from Gallia Belgica (Hartley 1977). The Thames Estuary kiln sites produced very similar pottery, but stamps were not used and typological similarities of form could equally well be explained by personal contact between potters (the main area of production in the

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