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6.6.3 The incidence of Montans ware in Britain by site type

Around 56 sites in Britain with Montans samian present are listed in Appendix 6.8. Some of these sites such as London, Colchester and Great Chesterford have yielded examples from several separate locations. At Birdoswald Montans samian comes from both the fort and the western vicus. At a few other sites Montans ware is associated with more than one phase of the site's development, hence at Exeter Montans ware contemporary with the fortress occurs, while later, in the second century, Montans ware appears also during the civil era.

There are 21 military sites with Montans samian (Table 12). These are mainly second century and all lie on the western side of Britain, particularly in north-west England extending as far as Birdoswald on Hadrian's Wall, or in the frontier zone of Antonine Scotland (including Newstead in that definition). The only outlier is South Shields which has one sherd of Montans recorded (Appendix 6.8). This suggests a strong relationship with military supply arrangements and distribution systems. Dickinson and Hartley have pointed up the virtual absence of Montans samian from Hadrian's Wall and its hinterland, in contrast to its wide occurrence on military sites of the Antonine frontier, following Hartley's seminal study (Hartley 1972b; Hartley and Dickinson 1994, 206; Dickinson 2000b, 62). In addition the concentration of find-sites in the north-west of England has also been noted by these authorities (Hartley 2000, 181; Dickinson 2000a, 204). The present study brings the piecemeal evidence together and verifies the trends. When one adds the four extra-mural sites outside of military complexes to the picture the trend is sustained, with only one outlier, namely Castleford vicus. In the round the concentration of finds on sites along the Antonine Wall on the one hand and in the region between Chester and Carlisle is striking. Dickinson has suggested that one site, such as the port at Chester, may have been a delivery and redistribution centre for the north-west region (cf. Dickinson 2000a, 204; Mills 2000, 48). Such a pattern, overall, closely fits Evans' recent proposal that several separate military supply zones can be discerned in Britain from a variety of ceramic indicators (Evans in preparation).

There is a slight contrast to the trends when sites with Montans samian present that are either military bases and/or civil centres are considered (Table 12). This adds Carlisle and Chester to the distribution consistent with the geographic trends. However, in addition there are five sites of this status all clustered in eastern Yorkshire (Aldborough, Brough-on-Humber, Catterick, Doncaster, York), plus Richborough and Southampton.

There are 8 major civil centres with recorded Montans samian (Appendix 6.8; Table 12). These are essentially sites where great quantities of samian were consumed, and from which very large samian samples have been recovered (eg. Verulamium), and so it is not surprising that some Montans ware is present. Of the smaller civil centres with Montans samian two, namely Wilderspool and Middlewich, might be considered part of the north-west England military related distribution. Alongside these sites though are several in the Essex-Hertfordshire region. When the 8 major civil centres, 9 smaller civil centres and 3 rural sites with Montans samian are plotted with the military find-sites it becomes apparent that though there is a clear connection between the Roman military and the distribution of Montans samian, it was not an exclusively military phenomenon. Montans samian demonstrably occurs at a diversity of site types and is geographically widespread. Indeed the distribution is in some respects very even across Britain and earlier distribution maps need full revision (eg. Tyers 1996, fig. 98). Contrary to an older view based upon a less extensive sample Montans ware in Britain is not focused particularly in London and at sites accessible via western ports. It is well represented in eastern England, in Yorkshire, along the south coast, Essex and Hertfordshire.

There are very few instances of Montans samian recorded so far from rural sites (Appendix 6.8; Table 12). Vessels of this ware, however, clearly reached such sites. That there are so few rural sites with attested Montans samian present is probably, in significant part, a function of the size of the samples recovered from these sites. Since the ware is infrequent amongst assemblages generally, it follows that amongst the modest collections of samian recovered from rural sites, particularly under current sampling briefs, the chances of there being one or more Montans vessels represented are very small. The larger the samian sample the greater the possibility, in principle, of rarer types such as Montans ware being present.

6.6.4 The incidence of Montans samian by form

Table 12 lists the forms in which the documented examples of Montans ware occur. This information is summarized in Table 13 below. Half of the vessels identified to form are decorated bowls, especially examples of Drag. 37. It is unlikely that this reflects the actual composition, by form, of Montans ware in Britain. The data suggest that there is a bias relating to the reporting of Montans samian, in so far as it is more likely that decorated forms, and indeed items with extant potters' stamps, will have attracted extra attention, identification and subsequent detailed reporting. Plain forms and body sherds are less likely to have been specifically documented and reported in older publications.

A contrast is apparent between the forms documented from military sites and those from major civil centres. Decorated vessels account for two thirds of the vessels identified to form class at military sites, whereas they comprise a little over one third of the identified forms associated with major civil centres. Whether this is a function of the manner in which Montans ware has been reported or if it reflects an actual difference in supply and consumption is presently unclear. This is a potentially significant aspect for investigation. Table 13 shows cups to be comparatively well represented overall, particularly the Drag. 27.

- Site Type -
Loes. 7 - - - 1 - - 1
Loes. 8 - - - 1 - - 1
Drag. 27 5 1 - 1 2 1 10
Drag. 33 - - - 1 3 - 4
Drag. 46 - - - 1 - - 1
Form not specified - 1 - 9 1 - 11
Decorated Bowls:
Drag. 29 variant - - - 2 - - 2
Drag. 30 - - - 1 - 1 2
Drag. 30 or 37 - - - - 1 - 1
Drag. 37 18 2 9 11 6 1 47
Form not specified 8 - 1 1 1 - 11
Indeterminate - - - 1 - - 1
Bowl or Dish:
Indeterminate - - 1 - - - 1
Drag. 18/31 1 1 1 - 2 1 6
Drag. 36 1 - - - - - 1
Not Specified 3 - - - - - 3
Dec. Beakers / Jars
Déch. 67 - 1 - - - - 1
Drag. 15/17 or 17 - - - 1 - - 1
Drag. 15/17 or 18 1 - - - - - 1
Drag. 18 - - - 2 - 1 3
Drag. 18R - - - 1 - - 1
Drag. 18 variant 2 - - 2 - 1 5
Not Specified - - - 3 - - 3
Platter or Dish:
Drag. 15/17, 18 or Curle 15 - - - - - 1 1
Closed Forms:
Indeterminate: - - - - 1 - 1
Total Number of Vessels: 3961239177120

Table 13: Summary of Montans vessels in Britain by Site Type and Form

Key to Site Type: M = military, EM = Extra-mural occupation outside military sites, MC = Military / Civil Sites, MCC = Major Civil Centres, SCC = Smaller Civil Centres, O = Other sites (Ritual/Religious sites, Rural sites, Burials)

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