5. Manufacture

The sub-Roman fabrics are clearly derived from earlier Romano-British types – Fabric 31 is similar to earlier types from Verulamium, Fabric 54 resembles Much Hadham types and Fabric 53 is identical with an early medieval fabric from Bedford, sharing the same range of inclusions as the earlier fabrics – and suggest that a network of exchange covering a radius of perhaps 20km around Baldock provided the settlement with its ceramics. The unusual vessels in an apparently Oxfordshire fabric seem to be exceptions, although it is possible that they are actually an attempt by Much Hadham potters to reproduce an Oxfordshire fabric. What is noteworthy, though, is that none of the imported wares found in western Britain is apparently represented in the assemblage from Baldock apart from a possible but highly problematic St Menas flask in the collection of Letchworth Museum since 1936 (Fitzpatrick-Matthews 2010, 136).

That these fabrics are found in vessels that were hand made with evidence only for the use of a slow wheel is perhaps indicative of a mode of production different from the earlier industries, albeit by competent and perhaps therefore still specialist potters. In at least one instance, the neck of a vessel was burnished before firing, a common Roman decorative technique. Most of the material is well fired and relatively hard, distinguishing it from the Iron Age material it otherwise resembles. Only Fabric 53 resembles types that may be associated with non-specialist production.