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6.4.6 Summary and discussion

How these early examples of Lezoux samian arrived in Britain is a question of particular interest. The evidence shows that the products of the Lezoux workshops were not exported to Britain in a consistent, organised manner prior to the Hadrianic period (Dickinson 1990, 213). For this reason Dickinson has referred to these early, pre c. AD 120 Lezoux items as: 'pre-export Lezoux', preceding traded consignments (2000a, 204). Troop deployments, and the movement of individuals around the provinces could, it is contended, account for the sporadic occurrence of these vessels at most sites in Britain, since they may have arrived as personal possessions with people coming to Britain (cf. Dickinson 1997b). Hence they have been described as 'stray' (Mills 2000, 48).

Dickinson's reference to early Lezoux ware in Britain as pre-export/pre consignment reflects the view that samian supply was typically in discrete bulk deliveries during all periods, rather than, for instance, being 'put together' by middle-men in batches of various scale from a rather heterogeneous 'pool' of samian. This is significant because these questions lie at the heart of how samian may have been distributed. The paucity of samian stamp die duplicates at sites generally, for all samian, suggests it is unlikely that bulk consignments were shipped to consumer sites more or less direct from the workshop, or that this, at least, was not invariably the means of supply. Equally, groups associated with 'pottery shops' tend to be comparatively mixed, and not dominated by a small number of manufacturers (cf. Millett 1983; 1993b). Of course this may reflect the manner in which samian kilns (which, when fired, contained the work of many producers) were loaded, unloaded and subsequently packed, and/or warehousing arrangements: it may not have been necessary for batches of a particular producer's work to be maintained at the point of dissemination. While 'pottery shop' groups do have more homogeneity than site assemblages (cf. Rhodes 1989) considerable mixing of the pool of samian evidently occurred between workshop and consumer. Early Lezoux products may well have been mixed with La Graufesenque vessels as they moved through trading systems. In actuality the means by which samian arrived in Britain will doubtless have varied.

The idea that Lezoux samian in Britain, pre-dating c. AD 120, does not represent traded items has been subject to revision. The geographic distribution of the 40 sites with early Lezoux samian recorded shows something of a bias towards the western and southern side of Britain, consistent with a trade in this ware coming out of the Loire estuary (cf. Dannell 1971, 266). Boon (1967) had been inclined to view these pre c. AD 120 items as traded imports, and Mills has recently suggested that the occurrence of three examples of early Lezoux ware at Kirkham fort, Lancashire, among an overall samian assemblage of c. 154 vessels, may indicate that some early Lezoux ware was exported to Britain (2000, 48). This is supported by the fact that a group of late Flavian-Trajanic Lezoux vessels came from excavations at Rocester, Staffordshire (Appendix 6.5). In the case of Rocester these vessels could have arrived as a single consignment, though not necessarily. It may be that there was a particular connection between the military garrison/s at Rocester and this production source. Overall, scrutiny of the find sites of this ware highlight its presence at military sites stretching through the West Midlands into the north-west of England. This distribution is consistent with Evans' recent suggestion of a particular 'zone of military supply' related to King Street and its adjacent roads (Evans in preparation).

With this samian category there is, overall, a close correlation between the distribution of the ware and the Roman army (cf. Section 6.4.3). To what degree this represents trade of the ware to the army, or to Britain and thence the army is uncertain. These military sites have mostly yielded only very modest numbers of such vessels and they are not all contemporary, covering the Neronian to Trajanic periods. One reason why military sites account for over half of the findspots might be related to chronology, in so far as during the period of currency of this ware many military sites were established through Britain at which samian was consumed in substantial quantities. In contrast, during the period before c. AD 120 the sites that became the smaller civil centres were only beginning to develop, while rural sites were not large consumers of samian during this time. Early Lezoux ware may simply have become part of a general 'pool' from which the army acquired its samian, rather than have been ordered in consignments from its source.

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