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6.4.3 The incidence of early Lezoux samian ware in Britain by site type

Early Lezoux samian is recorded from around 40 different sites of various type (Appendix 6.5). Of these over half (22) are sites associated with the Roman military. Several of these sites relate to the early deployment of the Roman army in the mid 1st century AD, including Fishbourne, Cirencester, Sea Mills, Usk and Baginton. There is also a concentration of find sites in central Britain, particularly Wales, and the west and north English Midlands (cf. Hartley 1975, 232), where 11 or possibly 12 military sites (in addition to Usk and Baginton) have yielded examples (Alcester, Brecon Y Gaer, Caerleon, Caersws, Castleford, Little Chester, Metchley, Rocester, Segontium, Whitchurch, York and Leicester. (One vessel is recorded so far from the last-named site, which might have come from a putative military phase at Leicester, though the status of the early Roman levels at this site is still somewhat enigmatic). These sites broadly equate to the advances and consolidation by the army after the initial conquest phase. Further north, finds occur at the military sites of Ribchester and Kirkham in Lancashire, Carlisle, Birdoswald and Camelon and Strageath in Scotland. The finds from Camelon and Strageath relate to campaigning in the Flavian period; other contemporary sites in Scotland may be expected to produce examples given this precedent, though the ware is not attested among the samian assemblage from Inchtuthil (Hartley 1985a). This close relationship between the distribution of the ware and early Roman military sites is discussed below (Section 6.4.6).

Away from military sites, the ware is recorded from five major civil centres, these being Colchester (where the find is perhaps more likely related to post-fortress activity), Dorchester, London, Silchester and Verulamium, and at six smaller civil centres, namely Baldock, Droitwich, Godmanchester, Great Chesterford, Heybridge (Elms Farm), and Tiddington (Appendix 6.5). Five rural sites, of various type, have yielded examples: Bancroft, Buchlyvie broch, Cressing Temple, Middle Duntisbourne and Topsham. The ware is also represented in the temple precinct at Great Chesterford. These non-military find-sites are mainly located in the south of England with only Droitwich, Tiddington and Buchlyvie lying further north. The vessel from Fairy Knowe, Buchlyvie, is a platter, occurring alongside a group of La Graufesenque samian vessels, all contemporary with the Roman occupation of southern Scotland during the Flavian period. Taking these non-military find-sites collectively, it is apparent that ten 'cluster' in the triangle formed by Silchester, Colchester and Godmanchester, that is to the west, north and east of London. This distribution in the vicinity of London is similar to that seen with Montans samian (Section 6.6). Sites like Silchester and Colchester are likely to have received direct shipments of samian, but it is entirely possible that the early Lezoux samian at sites such as Great Chesterford, Baldock and Verulamium arrived via London.

6.4.4 The incidence of early Lezoux samian ware by form

Table 11 below summarizes the recorded incidence of early Lezoux vessels in Britain by site type and form (the source being Appendix 6.5; the find from Leicester is assumed to relate to civil occupation). Some 146 separate vessels are recorded, of which 123 are identified to form or generic form. A larger sample would be desirable, but these collated finds are drawn from a wide diversity of sites and there is reason to believe that the composition of this sample is a guide to the types of forms distributed to sites in Britain. The tally for decorated vessels is 35 (34 bowls and 1 beaker). They represent 28.4% of the vessels identified to form. This is a moderate proportion given that it might be expected that decorated vessels in this ware are more likely to have been noticed, and itemized in reports and publications. This suggests that the proportion of decorated vessels (as opposed to plain forms) from this source coming to Britain was, overall, comparatively low. When the incidence of decorated vessels is considered by site type a significant difference emerges: decorated vessels account for 40.9% of the samian from civil sites, whereas at military sites this figure is markedly less at 21.5%. There is nothing amongst the sample which particularly skews these figures. The military sites include the vessels from Fishbourne, which date approximately to the Neronian period when decorated samian was generally a little less frequent that plain ware (cf. Section 7.3), and amongst the finds from Fishbourne there are only three decorated vessels to 19 plain, yet even with these Fishbourne finds omitted there is still a difference of over 15% in the proportions of decorated ware at military as opposed to civil sites, so the difference seems reliable.

Form TypeAt Military SitesAt Civil Sites
Loeschcke 8a - 1
Drag. 24/2562
Drag. 2776
Drag. 35 - 1
Oswald & Pryce LV 13 - 1
Indeterminate8 -
Decorated Bowls:
Drag. 29515
Drag. 29 or 371 -
Drag. 3773
Indeterminate3 -
Plain Bowls:
Ritt. 121 -
Curle 112 -
Indeterminate - 1
Indeterminate1 -
Loeschcke 751 -
Curle 15 - 1
Drag. 18/312 -
Drag. 18/31R1 -
Drag. 361 -
Indeterminate2 -
Dishes or Platters:
Drag. 18 or 18/311 -
Ritt. 1 - 2
Drag. 15/171 -
Drag. 15/17R or 17 - 2
Drag. 15/17 or 185 -
Drag. 161 -
Drag. 18214
Drag. 18R - 1
Decorated Beakers:
Déch. 671 -
Total Number of Vessels identified to form:7944
Not identified1013
Aggregate Totals:8957

Table 11: Summary of early (pre-c. AD 120) Lezoux samian vessels in Britain by Site Type and Form

6.4.5 Frequency

Whilst it occurs at a wide variety of sites early Lezoux ware is an uncommon find in Britain (cf. Hartley 1972a, 243). Boon long ago noted that: "the proportion of early Lezoux to contemporary South-Gaulish bowls is minute in Britain" (1967, 27-8). This is borne out by data from Verulamium for which some calculations demonstrate the following: from Insula XIV, 1957-60 a total of c. 1704 South Gaulish La Graufesenque vessels were represented amongst deposits spanning c. AD 40-160, while only 3 early Lezoux vessels occur (Appendix 6.5). Similarly, from the site of the Forum, London (1968-9) one early Lezoux vessel is represented amongst a total of 147 samian vessels dating to the period c. AD 45-100 (Appendix 6.5). Perhaps in older work some items of this ware had been passed over unrecognized as Boon suggests (1967), but the general picture is one of infrequency.

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