Aspects of Kentish Local History

Finds from the excavation of Eccles Roman Villa, Kent

First-century pottery manufacture at Eccles, Kent by Alec Detsicas
Roman Pottery Studies in Britain and Beyond. BAR S30 Oxford, 19-36

123. A fragmentary rim from a mortarium with thick bead, fired to grey throughout.

   It is clear that wall-sided mortaria were already out of fashion by c. A.D. 55 since only one is recorded from the large quantities of Neronian mortaria found at Usk; similarly, only one is known from the Lunt fort, established about the same time. They are recorded in deposits dating up to A.D. 65 at Camulodunum, but this is natural enough since mortaria were strong bowls likely to survive for a long time in use. However, the Boudiccan destruction of a store-room in the colonia contained a quantity of mortaria from the workshop of Q. Valerius Se-- (Dunnett 1966, Fig. 8, nos. 19, 22-25; Eccles no. 101 is somewhat similar to some of the mortaria he made). He was one of the earliest and most important of mortarium potters selling in Britain to have markets on a scale approaching those common in the Flavian and later periods.

   The Eccles flanged mortaria belong essentially in type to the period before Q. Valerius Se--, although one must allow for some overlap in production in practice; they belong to a curious period of local (often military) production and freedom in experiment which resulted in a vast quantity of rim-forms and fabrics, as instanced in this small kiln group. This, together with the simultaneous production of wall-sided mortaria, points to a date in the period A.D. 50-60 for the activity of the kiln. It is difficult to believe that any potter was making wall-sided mortaria after A.D. 60, and certainly it could not have happened later than A.D. 65.

   Among the wasters recovered were also found many complete or fragmentary, small bricks, measuring 93 x 54 x 18 mm, for which no apparent use can be suggested unless they were intended for flooring purposes, a curious potter's punch probably for the stamping of small palettes, one-half of the roulette mentioned above (Detsicas 1974b, fig. 8, nos. 2 and 3) and a fragment which may be from a separator or a tuyere. It is not unlikely that other items of kiln equipment may come to light when all this material has been thoroughly processed.

   The whole waste deposit can be dated internally by several sherds of coarse pottery made in the kiln and found stratified at the site of the villa, and by samian ware deposited with the wasters. It is noteworthy that, apart from the above, no other coarse pottery at all was found in the mass of waste products.

   Many fragments of a curious bowl, in a hard, sandy, creamy fabric, with three triangular openings through the wall of the pot and a rounded hole through its base (Detsicas 1974b, fig. 8, no. 1), were recovered among the wasters at the kiln site; other sherds from many such vessels, though some differing in fabric and form owing to their manufacture, some clearly wasters, were found in the filling of Ditch X at the villa site, which passes very close to the north-eastern part of the earliest house (Detsicas 1973, fig. 1). The first villa is provisionally dated to c. A.D. 65 on the basis of the pottery stratified in deposits laid before its construction (Detsicas 1965, 88-9); it follows, therefore,

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