1. Introduction

Figure 1: Map of selected sites mentioned in text

The recognition that Mediterranean pottery was imported to sites in post-Roman Britain emerged primarily through Radford's excavations at Tintagel (Radford 1956) (see Figure 1). Since then, an increasing number of sites have been identified in western Britain and Ireland and catalogued, principally by Charles Thomas (1959; 1981) and Ewan Campbell (2007). Despite the relatively small number of vessels involved, these post-Roman Mediterranean imports have been ascribed significance in revealing connections between western Britain and the eastern Mediterranean after AD 410. Tintagel remains by some margin the site with the largest quantity of material, both by sherd and vessel counts, with estimates of 150 amphorae and 80 fineware vessels recovered from the areas investigated to date (Thorpe 2007, 246). The recently published report from excavations at Bantham in south Devon has revealed an assemblage with a significant, if smaller, quantity of vessels (Reed et al. 2011) (Figure 2). This pottery has additional value in that it allows the identification and dating of 5th- and 6th-century sites in Britain and Ireland, which may otherwise produce limited datable material. The apparent disappearance of imported pottery in Britain in the early 5th century suggested that supply networks broke down until the arrival of these Mediterranean imports in the mid- to later 5th century (Campbell 2007, 138). As such, the systems by which the later imports arrived have typically been seen as distinct from patterns of importation to Roman Britain. In particular, these post-Roman imports have been interpreted as representing direct shipments from the east Mediterranean, therefore implying some sort of direct connection to the Byzantine world between the 5th and 6th centuries.

Figure 2: Bantham Sands, south Devon