3. Finds Analysis

3.1 Introduction

The excavations produced a very large and varied artefact assemblage, ranging in date from the Palaeolithic to post-medieval periods, though predominantly concentrated on the Late Iron Age to Roman. In total c. 282,000 pottery sherds (approximately 6.4 tonnes) were recovered during the excavations. These included a large Late Iron Age continental imports component and the largest Dressel I amphora assemblage excavated in Britain since World War 2. Some 8867 small finds were also retrieved (including over 3000 coins). The majority of the small finds were metalwork items, mainly personal objects such as brooches, although tools were also well represented. There were a number of exceptional individual items including the continental imports already mentioned, a hoard of pewter vessels and one of the largest groups of styli from a rural site. The briquetage from the site comprises the largest collection (219.7kg, 6641 fragments) in Britain from a non-saltmaking site, its presence presumably symptomatic of the settlement's location at the head of an estuary noted for its ancient salterns.

The large pottery, glass vessel and coin assemblages are reported upon individually. An attempt has been made to go beyond simply catalogue and assemblage descriptions with these assemblages. Thus the pottery analysis additionally pursues a number of function and use studies, exploring topics such as pottery production, the patterns of wear caused by usage of samian vessels, the use and reuse of amphora, the role of holes or perforations in pottery and the structured deposition of pottery groups.

The remaining finds assemblages are subsumed into a single report that is primarily ordered in terms of function (as Crummy 1983), rather than material and type. The intention of this approach is to facilitate an improved appreciation of the significance of their group value and to enhance their contribution to the interpretation of the site of what is otherwise a very considerable and diverse collection of artefacts. It is appreciated that some types of finds have ambiguous or multi-faceted functions and this is acknowledged with the separate reporting of such items as grave goods, where the individual elements (pottery, brooches, etc.) could equally be represented within the overall pottery report or personal adornment finds function category.

The individual specialist reports, from which the finds function categories have been constructed, can also be found in the digital archive on the ADS (Essex County Council 2015). Volume 1 (Atkinson and Preston 2015) presents a broader discussion in the light of all the evidence, including that of the finds, on such issues as the economy, status, religious practices etc. of the settlement. It must be noted that most of the specialist reports were produced by 2000 and have not been substantively updated in the light of more recent discoveries or developments in our understanding. The prehistoric (Period 1) artefacts have previously been reported elsewhere (Atkinson and Preston 2001) and are therefore not included here. Post-abandonment finds (Period 7, medieval and later) are presented in the digital archive.

Where possible, discussion of the various finds assemblages is made with reference to perceived settlement zonation (see Site narrative introduction) . However, the subtleties of individual enclosure distinctions was not always available at the time of artefact analytical study and the finds reports therefore more usually rely upon the imposed Excavation Area system (Areas A1-C, D-R and W) to provide a framework in which to explore and express spatial distribution of artefacts.


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