1. Black Burnished Ware and the Fifth Century

Black Burnished Ware (BB1) had its origins in the indigenous Late Iron Age pottery of south-east Dorset. During the Roman period BB1 rose to prominence and supplied many parts of the province on an almost industrial scale (Allen and Fulford 1996). The Roman army played an important role in distributing this pottery, although the exact mechanisms of the relationship between BB1 and the army are unclear (Gerrard 2008). It was even copied by other pottery producers, most notably at Rossington Bridge in Yorkshire (RBBB1 and along the Thames estuary (BB2).

From the early 2nd century it appears in quantity in London and along the northern frontiers. Yet the supply of BB1 was not constant and work in different regions has charted the fluctuations in supply in some detail. In London, for instance, BB1 was important during the early 2nd century but declined in significance until a resurgence in the very late 3rd/early 4th century. This was followed by another dip in importance during the latter half of the 4th century (Davies et al. 1993; Symonds and Tomber 1991; Rayner and Seeley 2008).

BB1 always formed the major part of the pottery being used on sites in what is sometimes termed its 'Durotrigian core': Dorset and Somerset. The publication of excavations in this region allowed the different vessel forms to be classified in detail and also demonstrated that the pottery was being used until the very end of what is seen as the Roman period. In two papers attention has been drawn to particular types of BB1 that appear most likely to have been in use during the 5th century (Gerrard 2004; 2010). In this article the opportunity is taken to refresh our understanding of a specific type of bowl and its chronological implications.