Ceramic Imports to Britain and the Atlantic Seaboard in the Fifth Century and Beyond

Maria Duggan

School of History, Classics and Archaeology, Newcastle University, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE1 7RU UK. Email: maria.duggan@newcastle.ac.uk

Cite this as: Duggan, M. 2016 Ceramic Imports to Britain and the Atlantic Seaboard in the Fifth Century and Beyond, Internet Archaeology 41. https://doi.org/10.11141/ia.41.3


In western Britain, particularly the south-west, imported pottery of Mediterranean origin has provided an important means of recognising 5th and 6th-century sites. The ability to link these finds to typologies established in the Mediterranean has led to sherds of imported amphorae or fineware being considered as key chronological markers or indicators of long-distance connections. The arrival of new forms of pottery in the mid- to later 5th century, with a distinct western and coastal distribution, has been used to indicate the emergence of a new and separate post-Roman import system, characterised by a model of direct shipment from the east Mediterranean. This model has been reinforced by a relative absence of known, comparable finds along the Atlantic Seaboard. Recent publications from the Continent, however, are starting to fill this 'gap'. Revised patterns of ceramic distribution in western France and north-west Spain suggest that British sites were integrated into a more complex Atlantic system of trade or exchange. This article will discuss some recent publications on ceramic imports to Britain, particularly those that offer new interpretations of the date and character of this import system. It will highlight emerging evidence from the Continent, particularly south-western France and, specifically, relevant publications on Late Antique pottery in Bordeaux. This will allow new comparisons to be drawn between patterns of pottery importation and use in Britain, France and the wider Atlantic region in the 5th and 6th centuries.

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