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23.08.2014
During the Roman period pottery was imported into Britain from other parts of the Roman Empire, from areas such as Spain, Gaul (modern France), Germany, Italy and North Africa. Types of Roman Pottery: The Romans also introduced a wide variety of vessel types used for storage and transportation, and preparing and serving new sorts of food and drink. Mortaria were bowl-shaped, often with spouts and large rims suggesting they were used as mixing bowls.
Saxo Norman Stamford Ware: In 877AD Leicester was finally defeated by the Danes after twelve long years of battle against the Viking invaders. Much of the archaeological evidence we have of this period in Leicester consists of the fine wheel thrown and glazed pottery imported from Stamford where a wide range of vessels were made, from cooking pots and bowls to spouted pitchers, jugs and dishes from the mid or later ninth century. Early Medieval Potters Marston Ware: Potters Marston ware, chiefly jars, bowls and jugs, became the most commonly used pottery in the households of medieval Leicester and to the south and west of the county during the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries.
Analysis of the clay has pinpointed a source for the igneous rock inclusions to an outcrop of syenite at Croft, less than a mile from the village. Most of these glazed wares found in Leicester came from Chilvers Coton, where over sixty pottery kilns have been examined, the remains of an industry which dominated the local market for pottery from the mid thirteenth to the fifteenth century. Later Medieval Midland Purple Ware: During the later fourteenth and fifteenth centuries technological advances meant that much pottery became increasingly higher fired, sometimes almost to the point of vitrification.
Late Medieval Cistercian and Early Post Medieval Blackware: Cistercian ware was first identified on ruined monastic sites inhabited by Cistercian monks before the dissolution of the monasteries in the sixteenth century, hence the name. The origins of these fine wheel thrown dark brown glazed pots, often decorated with applied motifs in white clay, remains something of a mystery. In Britain, the Roman period (AD43-c.AD410) was the first time pottery was readily available to almost everyone. Pottery industries were soon operating in Britain as well, some probably set up by migrant potters from the Continent. Amphorae were large storage vessels used for transporting goods throughout the Empire, usually by sea.


They also had grits lining the inside to create a rough inner surface which was good for helping to grind spices or mix up ingredients. Liquids could be poured from flagons or jugs, which were narrow mouthed vessels often made in a white fabric. The town, together with Nottingham, Derby, Lincoln and Stamford, became one of the five fortified centres within the Viking Danelaw. Many of the fine table wares were decorated with a transparent lead glaze and, after circa 1150, with a bright copper green glaze, a useful piece of dating evidence for the archaeologist. These hand or coil built pots were made less than five kilometres south west of Leicester at the now deserted village of Potters Marston. This pottery is very easy to identify because this rock is clearly visible to the naked eye. These represent the high point of medieval pottery production, in terms of technical expertise and artistry, in the region. Locally, these hard fired, rather plain and utilitarian pots made at Chilvers Coton and Ticknall in Derbyshire, are known as Midland Purple ware, and they do generally range in colour from purple to dark red or greyish black with a metallic glaze. These include lids and cups, pipkins - cooking pots with the addition of a handle and a pouring lip, dripping dishes - shallow vessels placed under a spit to catch the juices from roasting fowl or meat, and cisterns - large handled jars with a bung hole near the base used for the brewing and storage of ale or beer. We now know that these dark brown glazed pots were made at centres throughout England, including Chilvers Coton and Ticknall, together with Midland Purple ware the larger Midland Purple ware jars being used as saggars to protect the smaller vessels from excessive heat during firing in the kiln.
The pottery is technically very advanced and occurs in a range of table ware forms, most notably cups. As a result, when pots were broken they were easily replaced and the broken pieces were discarded with other refuse.
In Leicester, pots from Mancetter-Hartshill in Warwickshire and the Nene Valley area in Cambridgeshire are very common, alongside more locally made wares and imports. The most common imports to Britain were olive oil, wine and fish sauce from Spain, Gaul and Italy.


The grits could be made from small pieces of rock such as flint or quartz or crushed up bits of pottery.
Samian Ware is the term used to describe red-slipped bowls, dishes and cups imported from Gaul and colour-coated ware beakers were common drinking vessels imported from Gaul or the Rhineland. The Stamford potters continued to supply Leicester with exceptionally high quality pottery well into the thirteenth century.
Although the clay body is coarse, some of the potters were able to produce surprisingly fine pottery. This allows us to establish the trade and distribution patterns of the pottery, even where only tiny fragments of pot are found, thus helping us to understand the nature and extent of this industry. The jugs in particular occur in a huge range of shapes, sizes and decoration and it is these characteristics, together with the inclusions which help us to discover where the pot was made, its date, and sometimes even the work of an individual potter.
Other Cistercian ware vessels included posset pots and chafing dishes; the latter was used for holding glowing embers of charcoal to heat the posset or rich spiced potage of curdled milk, which was placed in the posset pot above. Pottery does not decay in the same way as organic remains such as bone or wood, so it is often well preserved. Romano-British potteries began to make their own range of colour-coated wares, expanding the range of vessel types to include bowls, dishes and flagons as well as beakers. It seems likely that this pottery was introduced to England by migrant potters from continental Europe where, unlike Britain, the art of making wheel thrown pottery had continued after the collapse of the Roman Empire.



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