Aspects of Kentish Local History

The Christopher St John Breen Roman & Medieval Pottery Archive

About Christopher St John Breen


Christopher St John Breen with Marion Green
at the D.D.A.G. Centre



The late Christopher St John Breen (1943-1988) led members of Dartford District Archaeological Group (D.D.A.G) in collecting sherds of pottery from dumps of soil fly-tipped by lorries clearing the former site of Billingsgate Lorry Park, London in 1984. A small segment of the site had been the subject of an archaeological excavation, but the rest was just machined out and loaded into lorries. There seemed to be little control on the dumping of the soil, and soon about twenty-nine lorry loads of soil were found fly-tipped by a member of the D.D.A.G. on Dartford Heath. Chris soon recognised the importance of collecting as much as possible of the pottery. News of many more dumps of soil at the site of a disused factory in Dagenham saw members of the Group travelling there on a number of occasions to collect pottery.
   Many thousands of sherds of all dates, were collected and taken to the then D.D.A.G. Research Centre, Lowfield Street, Dartford where they were washed and sorted. This sorting exercise lead to pottery specialists from the Department of Urban Archaeology at the Museum of London travelling down to Dartford to view the collection. Really rare or important pieces were taken away to London, but many of the remaining individual sherds were identified and became the core of the Pottery Archive formed by Christopher St John Breen.
   Chris set up a system of plastic boxes, each holding fifteen small trays measuring 2 x 5 inches, that contained examples of Roman and Medieval pottery sherds identified by the visiting specialists. The K.A.S. Fieldwork Committee kindly made a grant towards this work.

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