4. The Fourth Century

Figure 4
Figure 4: Sites where the A 5d motif has been found in the 4th century (see map key)

The situation in the late Roman period could not be more different. There are only seven examples of the A 5d motif north of a line from the Wash to the Severn Estuary out of 125 examples identified by March 2015. These are one each from Brough-on-Humber, Caerwent, Leicester (Jewry Wall), Lincoln (Flaxengate), Old Sleaford, and two from the fort at Usk (Figure 4). Equally, I have recorded 87 examples of the A 5fi motif by March 2015, but only eight come from north of the same line: one each from Caerleon, the Catterick bypass, the Crambeck kilns, Leicester (Jewry Wall), Lincoln (Hungate), the temple at Lydney Park (Gloucs), and in York from the Bishophill site in the colonia and The Mount cemetery (Figure 5).

Figure 5
Figure 5: Sites where the A 5fi motif has been found in the 4th century (see map key)

Both motifs represent a large segment of the total examples recorded for the 4th century (Table 1): only the basic rosette motifs (A 5a) and the demi-rosettes (G 2a) have more examples recorded. Percentage-wise the motif occurrence shows some distinct patterns (Figure 6).

Figure 6
Figure 6: Percentages of the two motifs analysed by production centres
Table 1: Quantities of A 5d and A 5fi motifs from the various production centres producing stamped pottery in the 4th century
Production centre Total stamps attributed No. of A 5d No. of A 5fi
Oxfordshire [OXRS] 1,085 68 50
Unidentified 732 22 14
New Forest [NFCC] 221 26 17
Hadham [HARS] 169 2 1
Nene Valley [NVCC] 63 5 2
Crambeck [CRAM] 39 0 1
Pevensey [PVRS] 24 1 1
Swanpool 9 1 1
Totals 2,342 125 87

Looking at the distribution maps for the two motifs during the 4th century, it is striking how different they are. Out of the 116 sites shown on the two maps, there are only 19 sites where both motifs have been found (Figure 7 and Table 2).

Figure 7
Figure 7: Sites where both the A 5d and A 5fi motifs have been found in the 4th century
Table 2: Sites where both the A 5d and A 5fi motifs have been found
Site no. Parish Site County
400 Armsley Well Hants
401 Ashley Rails Kilns Hants
19 Barnsley Park Villa Glos
134 Berinsfield Wally Corner Oxon
60 Caistor St Edmund Town Norfolk
110 Colchester Balkerne Lane Essex
192 Heybridge Elizabeth Way Essex
208 Ilchester Kingshams Somerset
227 Leicester Jewry Wall Leics
507 London Site in City London, Greater
579 London SE18 Woolwich Power Station London, Greater
80 London SW6 Fulham Palace Moat London, Greater
16 Marsh Baldon Golden Balls Crossroads Oxon
266 Marshfield Ironmongers Piece Villa Avon
303 Pevensey Castle (Outer Court) Sussex, E
305 Portchester Castle Hants
311 Richborough Fort Kent
326 Silchester Town Hants
336 Stanground Park Farm Cambs

There are also five towns or cities where both motifs have been found, but on separate sites. These are Chelmsford, Gloucester, Lincoln and Milton Keynes (Table 3), plus various sites in the City of London and Southwark.

Table 3: Urban areas where both the A 5d and A 5fi motifs have been found
Code Parish Site County
78 Chelmsford Sites S & K Essex
171 Gloucester Bon Marché New Market Hall Gloucs
617 Lincoln Flaxengate Hungate Lincs
270 Milton Keynes Caldecotte (Lake) Bucks
269 Milton Keynes Bancroft Villa Bucks

The Oxfordshire production centre was by far the most prolific in its stamped wares output, producing respectively 54.4 per cent of the A 5d motifs and 58.5 per cent of the A 5fi motifs. However, it is clear from the distribution maps that the kilns producing wares that employed the A 5d and A 5fi motifs were not in Oxford itself, but came almost exclusively from Young's Southern Group 3 kilns (nos 28-31) (Young 1977, 5 and 12-13). Young comments of this sub-group:

'The towns of Alchester and Dorchester[-on-Thames] and the villas that they served must have provided a market for fine Romanised wares from an early stage in the Roman occupation. The Group 3 kilns were in an exceptionally good position to meet this need. They were located close to their initial markets and they had excellent communications.' (Young 1977, 13)

Stuart Laycock suggests Dorchester-on-Thames may have been a potential flashpoint on a disputed boundary between the Catuvellauni and Dobunni people (Laycock 2008, 174). He also suggests that the very early Anglo-Saxon settlements in the vicinity may represent a foederati command who had been recruited by the Catuvellauni to defend the important Thames crossing and who had decided to stay and put down roots. It would be going too far to suggest that the fashion for stamped pottery was driven by their arrival as Young dates the rise of its popularity to around AD 340 (Young 1977, 132), but they may well have provided a larger clientele for such decorative wares than would otherwise have been the case.

The New Forest kilns, by contrast, manufactured much less stamped pottery overall. They produced respectively just 20.8 per cent of the A 5d motifs and 19.5 per cent of the A 5fi motifs. Apart from a couple of outliers (at Caistor St Edmund/by Norwich, Norfolk, and Leicester, Jewry Wall), all examples of the A 5d motif on New Forest Ware come from south of a line from the Severn Estuary to the Thames mouth. The same is true of the A 5fi motifs, apart from one outlier at Leicester, Jewry Wall. The distribution maps show an interesting run of sites along the south coast, comprising Portchester, Pevensey and Richborough, which may demonstrate a coastal trade emanating from the New Forest kilns - both motifs have been found at Ashley Rails. Current thinking is that the Pevensey Ware factory, wherever it was located, was founded by a potter who had trained in the Oxford area (Jane Timby, pers. comm.), but he (or she) must have been aware of what was going on in the New Forest area because both stamped and unstamped New Forest Wares have been found at Pevensey (Salzmann 1909, 92; Lyne 2009, 109-10).

Figure 8
Figure 8: Comparison of the output of A 5d motifs to the total number of motifs from a given production centre

Twenty per cent of the A 5d and seventeen per cent of the A 5fi motifs from the 4th century have not been attributed to a production centre, which obviously partially skews any attempts at analysis (Figs 8 and 9). Three of the anonymous A 5fi examples come from York and Catterick, both in North Yorkshire, and I am of the opinion that they may possibly have been manufactured in the so-called Parisian area - in southern Yorkshire or northern Lincolnshire. In York, the die used to make the stamp from Bishophill (Roberts 1982, fig. 39-D24.8) is not dissimilar to Elsdon's no. 67 from Dragonby (Elsdon 1982, fig. 7). The example from The Mount cemetery, York (Roberts 1982, fig. 49-X24.5), is similar to a Parisian example from Brough (Corder 1956, fig. 2-3). The example from Catterick does not have any obvious parallels (Wilson 2002, Vol. 2, fig. 182-B10.3). One of the anonymous A 5d stamps comes from Brough-on-Humber and appears to be similar to examples shown by Elsdon from Dragonby (fig. 10-69b) and Old Winteringham (fig. 10-72).

Figure 9
Figure 9: Comparison of the output of A 5fi motifs to the total number of motifs from a given production centre

Statistical analysis (Nearest Neighbour Index and Ripley's K, see O'Sullivan and Unwin 2003, ch. 4, 77-114) of the A 5d motif demonstrates some clustering, particularly along the Bristol-London axis.