Glastonbury Abbey Symposium 9 June 2011 Abbey Shield

Roman pottery, by Jane Timby

Freelance specialist

The archaeological work at Glastonbury Abbey produced a small Roman pottery assemblage amounting to some 256 sherds weighing c 2.9 kg. The pottery is generally of mixed condition with some small, quite abraded pieces but other larger better-preserved sherds. All the material appears to be unstratified and from dispersed locations.

The assemblage comprises a mixture of imported continental and regional wares alongside products from more local industries. Continental imports are limited to fine samian table wares from sources in South, Central and East Gaul. Regional imports include vessels from Poole Harbour and the South-West black burnished industries, the New Forest, Oxfordshire, the Severn Valley and possible north Wiltshire.

Chronologically the sherds span the 1st to 4th centuries. With such a small assemblage it is not possible to determine whether activity was intermittent or continuous. There is also the likelihood that some selection may have taken place in terms of retention; the samian component, for example, is quite high. Having said this there are both featured and unfeatured sherds present. The earliest sherds include some native handmade wares likely to date to the later Iron Age or early Roman period. Dorset black burnished wares account for nearly one quarter of the assemblage by weight and include forms typical of the 2nd through to 4th centuries. The samian similarly includes pieces of 1st through the early 3rd -century date. The later Roman period is marked by the presence of colour-coated wares and New Forest grey ware alongside local wares, some copying later regional forms. The assemblage is broadly in keeping with that to be expected from the region and reflects other finds already documented in and around Glastonbury.

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