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4.3 Mortaria
by M.J. Darling and K.F. Hartley

All the mortaria from the main excavations and from the evaluation trenches (WRB91) have been examined by Mrs Hartley, who has contributed the dating and much valuable information. Table 8 details the quantities by source of all the mortaria from both excavation and the evaluation trenches.

Source Code Sherds % Weight % Date ranges Vess
Colchester/Norfolk MOCO ? 2 2.33 178 2.19 170-230 2
Lincolnshire MOLIN 1 1.16 39 0.48 130-170 1
Local MOLO 11 12.79 838 10.29 100-130/140; 250-300 2
Local? MOLO ? 6 6.98 312 3.83 150/180-230(2); 200-250 (1); undated (1) 4
Mancetter-Hartsthill MOMH 9 10.47 2088 25.64 170-200(1); 220-270(1); 3rd century(3) 5
North Gaul MONG 17 19.77 971 11.92 65-100(7); Antonine (1) 8
Lower Nene Valley MONV 14 16.28 940 11.54 3rd century 12
North Yorkshire MONYO 4 4.65 265 3.25 200-250 3
Rhineland MORH 14 16.28 2104 25.84 140-250/300 3
South Carlton MOSC 2 2.33 130 1.60 140-180 1
South Carlton? MOSC ? 4 4.65 257 3.16 140-180 2
Verulamium region? MOVR ? 1 1.16 17 0.21 Late 1st-mid 2nd century 1
Mortaria? MORT ? 1 1.16 4 0.05 1
Total 86 100 8143 100 45
Table 8: Mortaria by source

There are notable concentrations which make the use of either sherd count or weight inappropriate to evaluate this group. Sherds comprising most of a single MOMH hooked rim mortarium (no.316) came from major rubbish deposits (groups 9.3 and 11.2), and much of a Rhineland mortarium (no.314) was found in the dump (group 12.7). Even when examined on the basis of a vessel count, the quantity of North Gaulish vessels, clearly residual in the contexts in which they were found, appears to be over-represented, as shown in Fig.48.

figure 48
Fig.48: Sources of mortaria (vessel count)

Sherds from the main source in the Lower Nene Valley mostly came from the upper deposits and group 12.2-6 in Trench 1, and from group 10.3 in Trench 2, dated to the mid to late 3rd century. One came from the upper deposits in the evaluation Trench I, overlying the local pottery production waste. North Gaulish sherds were all stratified with much later 3rd century pottery, including six sherds of a single Gillam 1957 238 (no.312) from 12.1 dump. A single abraded later Gallic mortarium of Gillam 1957 255 type of Antonine date came from the layer overlying the pottery production waste in the evaluation Trench I. Most of the mortaria came from the major dump deposits in Area 1 (11 and 12), and the upper layers of the site. The unusual mortarium of ‘Raetian' type A of local manufacture (no.321) came from Area 2, 19.1, an unknown construction deposit, together with a very worn base from a Rhenish mortarium.

Applying dates to all sherds (that for bodysherds based on the dated sherds), the vessel count has been plotted, Fig.49. Two profiles are shown, one including the Lower Nene Valley vessels as dated AD 200-300, and the second, diverging into the later 3rd century, with these mortaria dated c.AD 230-300.

figure 49
Fig.49: Plotdate of Brough-on-Humber mortaria, date profiles, all and with MONV dated AD 230-300

This shows the effect of the scatter of North Gaulish mortaria, followed by the 2nd century vessels mostly from more local sources and the Rhineland (including the nearly complete vessels MOMH and MORH , nos.316 and 314). The Lower Nene Valley mortaria cannot be closely dated, and have all been plotted as dated AD 200-300 or AD 230-300, the chart showing the effect of the differing dates. The main peak can therefore lie either in the earlier part, or middle, of the 3rd century. A painted Mancetter-Hartshill hammer-head is dated c.AD 220-270, and the over-fired ‘waster' from local production no.322 is also dated to the second half of the 3rd century.

There are no vessels datable to the 4th century, no sherds from the later Roman Swanpool industry at Lincoln, nor from Crambeck. This is entirely consistent with the rest of the pottery from the site, with only the occasional sherd in the topsoil which might be of 4th century date.


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Last updated: Tue Nov 28 2000