A Research Strategy and Updated Agenda for the Study of Roman Pottery in Britain

Project Design on behalf of The Study Group for Roman Pottery

1. Summary description
2. Background
3. Aims
4. Objectives
5. Business Case
6. Project Scope
7. Interfaces
8. Communications
9. Project Review

10. Health and Safety
11. Resources and Programming
11.1 Project Team Structure
11.2 Methods Statement
11.3 Stages, Products and Tasks
12. Ownership
13. Risk Log
14. Timetable

1. Summary_description

The project seeks to update the existing Research Framework and Agenda and to compile, for the first time, a strategy which takes into account recent developments, ties the framework firmly into other regional and national research frameworks and sets out sector-driven priorities which will further archaeological research.

2. Background

The Study Group for Roman Pottery (SGRP) produced a Research Framework for the study of Roman Pottery in 1997 following two years of work by selected members of the Group. The document contained a National Research Framework and four regional research frameworks for the North of Britain, Southern England, the East Midlands and East Anglia and Western Britain.

A few changes were made to the regional research frameworks in c. 2002 prior to the documents being posted on the Group’s website (SGRP.org.uk) and the National Framework was updated by Steve Willis, with contributions from four other SGRP members, in 2003 (Journal of Roman Pottery Studies (JRPS) Vol. 11). The changes to the regional research frameworks were fairly minimal so, in effect, these documents are over ten years old. The 2003 update of the National Framework added references to publications, studies and research since 1997, revised many sections, added some new sections and updated much of the rest. This document will not, therefore, require the level of revision anticipated for the Regional Frameworks, but a further update after 5 years would be appropriate.

Most importantly, neither the original documents, nor their updates, include a research strategy. The absence of a strategy was noted as a crucial omission by Adrian Olivier in his comments on the original document, though he was otherwise complimentary about the document and the effort that the Group had put into producing it. At the time he stated that
"I would be happy to support the relatively modest costs that this (producing a strategy) might require in addition to providing support for its publication".

Over the last ten years considerable progress has been made in Roman pottery studies and many of the recommendations in the framework document have been achieved at both national and regional level. It is now time to build on that success and to produce an updated agenda and a strategy which takes into account recent developments, ties the framework firmly into other regional and national research frameworks, and sets out sector driven priorities which will further archaeological research.

3. Aims

To produce an updated assessment of the discipline of Roman pottery studies.

To review and update the current research agenda.

To produce a strategy, agreed by the sector and containing clear, firm priorities. This will be reviewed annually and refreshed on a five-year basis.

4. Objectives

a) To undertake an updated assessment of the current status of the Roman pottery studies sector comprising:

The human resource: including the numbers of people involved, work and specialist areas, age range, means of employment, location, infrastructure.

Training and support: Identifying skills lacunae and needs, courses, local or regional research groups.

Source material: Including the availability and accessibility of local reference collections, published material and grey literature, and archives.

Analysis and reporting methodologies: Differing approaches and standards.

Supporting analysis: Including fabric analysis, residue analysis and statistical analysis.

b) To compile an updated research agenda.

Assessing achievements since the last research agenda, areas in the previous research agenda not
addressed and new areas or developments.

c) To produce a strategy in consultation with the wider discipline, identifying prioritised
programmes and projects within the research agenda and possible resources and
funding streams.

5. Business Case

6. Project Scope

The project is primarily concerned with Roman pottery studies but will take account of and link to other relevant agenda and strategies, especially in respect of shared aims and objectives. The number, status, usefulness and use of reference collections will be assessed though the quality will not. No visits to reference collections will be undertaken The project will include work undertaken in Scotland. It will seek to include work undertaken in Wales, if possible, depending on support from Cadw.

7. Interfaces

Regional and national period and specialist research frameworks and current initiatives. Special reference to the Roman strategy and the post-Roman research strategy (currently in preparation).

8.Communications

The project team will liaise regularly via e-mail, 'phone, post and at meetings.

Steering Group meetings will be held at milestones within the project timetable or at not less than 3 month intervals.

Highlight reports will be provided at these points for the Steering Group and the Project Assurance
officer

Members of the SGRP will be kept informed through the Group’s Newsletter and website. The website
will be used to provide progress reports and to allow discussion and debate, especially for the wider
sector. This will be facilitated by means of a ‘blog’ and through ‘Google docs’ or a similar
mechanism.

Seminars and/or sessions will be arranged at relevant fora.

9. Project Review

The project will be reviewed at each Steering Group meeting which will take place at milestones within the project timetable or at not less than 3 month intervals.

Monitoring meetings will be held with the Project Assurance officer who will authorise any acceptable
and appropriate changes to the project.

10. Health and Safety

The Project Manager will follow the national guidance on health and safety advocated by the IFA.

11. Resources and Programming

11.1 Project Team Structure

The project will be overseen by a Steering Group (SG) of the SGRP who will also provide academic overview and advice. The Steering Group may co-opt additional members or others to assist and advise.

The Project Executive (PE) will be Dr Roberta Tomber who will oversee the conduct of the project and the delivery of outcomes on behalf of the SGRP. The project will be undertaken on behalf of the group by Rob Perrin who will act as Project Manager
(PM), will undertake most of the project tasks and will provide highlight reports for the SGRP and English Heritage.

Web design will be carried out by David Dearlove (DD) of the SGRP and JRPS publication aspects will be carried out by the SGRP JRPS editorial team.

A list of Steering Group members and key consultees is given in the Appendix.

11.2 Methods Statement

Objective a): Undertake an assessment of the current status of the Roman pottery studies sector

A list of consultees will be compiled based on the current SGRP membership list augmented by information provided by university archaeological departments.

The consultees will be contacted via e-mail, directly or otherwise and their responses will be analysed to provide information on numbers of people involved, employment status, age range, location, infrastructure, skill areas, current initiatives, studies and research, potential lacunae and shortages, training provision and needs. This will build on and be compared with the previous survey by SGRP member Andrew Peachey. Information on members new to the Group will be highlighted.

In addition to a published literature search, the literature review will comprise the analysis of information from HERs, OASIS, the ADS grey literature library, the Archaeological Investigations Project at Bournemouth University, the on-line JRPS bibliography, other on-line data (see ‘New areas or developments’ in objective (b), below) and consultation with regional colleagues, local government officers and university departments. SGRP members who contribute to the JRPS
bibliography will be consulted.

A questionnaire will be circulated to assess existing reference collections in terms of how many there are, where they are, who is nominated to curate them, whether they are actively updated and curated in practice and how easy they are to use.

The results will be collated and presented at appropriate seminars or sessions and disseminated via the SGRP website.

The results will be used to stimulate discussion and help with the identification of strategy priorities.

The results will form a section in the final report.

Objective b): To compile an updated research agenda.

Assessing achievements since last Research Agenda: A published and grey literature review will assess relevant publications and other documents which have appeared post 1997/2003. This will take account of the bibliographic section complied for JRPS.

Work in progress will be assessed, and will include the results of a questionnaire on ‘current status’ circulated to all consultees.

Consultation of members of the SGRP, especially those who were involved in the production of the original framework documents.

These will identify key publications, initiatives or research and specific aspects such as progress with typologies, methodologies and kiln studies and will summarise developments since 1997/2003.

The achievements will be assessed against the issues, aspects and recommendations outlined in the 1997 and 2003 documents and in the light of the recommendations of the Fulford-Huddlestone report. This will identify those which have been addressed to some degree and/or which can be considered to have been adequately covered.

Areas in previous Research Agenda not addressed: The issues, aspects and recommendations outlined in the 1997 and 2003 documents and in the Fulford-Huddlestone report which have not been addressed at all or have not been adequately covered will be identified.

New areas or developments The assessment will consider new key resources that have become available (see objective (a) above) and initiatives in progress or planned such as:

Timby and Rigby’s Gallo-Belgic pottery database
(http://gallobelgic.thehumanjourney.net),

Paul Tyers' POTSHERD website (http://potsherd.net/atlas/potsherd.html)

Samian Research Framework and new samian ware online resources
(http://www1.rgzm.de/samian/home/frames.htm)
(http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/museum/samian.php)

Hartley and Tomber’s Mortarium bibliography
(http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archives/view/mortbib_eh_2006)

Digital National Roman Fabric Reference Collection
(http://www.molas.org.uk/projects/fabrics_tei.asp?report=nrfc)

Website of Roman Kilns based on Vivien Swan’s publication (in progress)
(http://mapdata.thehumanjourney.net/vgswandb_index.html)

Worcestershire Online Pottery Form and Fabric database,
(http://www.worcestershireceramics.org/)

Interim consultations

Regular contact will be set up with representatives of the Medieval Pottery Research Group (MPRG) and other professional groups.

The SGRP website will be used to provide progress reports and an interactive mechanism utilizing a ‘blog’ and ‘Google docs’ (or an equivalent) will be established to allow discussion and debate for the wider archaeological sector, including other specialist pottery and finds groups, universities, voluntary societies, curators and contractors.

Report

A report on the results of Objectives 1 and 2 will be compiled and circulated.

Objective c): To produce a strategy in consultation with the wider discipline, identifying prioritised programmes and projects within the Research Agenda and possible resources and funding streams.

The Steering Group will compile an initial list of strategic priorities based on the revised agenda incorporating comments and advice from lead consultees.

The initial list will be edited into a coherent draft strategy.

A draft strategy will be circulated to SGRP members and stakeholders in advance of a seminar.

The draft strategy will be discussed with representatives of the MPRG.

A day seminar will be arranged and hosted to debate and refine the initial list and identify key research strategies to cover an initial 5-year period.

A final draft strategy will be edited and produced.

The draft final strategy will be circulated to members and stakeholders and placed on the SGRP website.

Comments will be incorporated into a final agenda and strategy document for sign off by Steering Group.

The revised agenda and strategy will be launched at the following annual SGRP meeting.

The revised agenda and strategy will be placed on the SGRP website and published in JRPS.

Papers on the revised agendas and strategies of the SGRP and MPRG will be given at the following IFA conference.

Progress against the strategy priorities will be assessed annually by the SGRP committee who will also review the strategy on a five-year basis.

11.3 Stages, Products and Tasks

<>Task <>Task name <>Staff
<>Stage1
<>1 <>Preparation for 1st Steering Group meeting <>PM
<>2 <>1st Steering Group meeting <>SG; PM; PE
<>3 <>Prepare list of consultees <>SG; PM
<>4 <>Prepare ‘status of discipline’ questionnaire <>SG; PM
<>5 <>Prepare reference collection questionnaire <>SG; PM
<>6 <>Circulate to consultees* <>PM
<>7 <>Contact Research Framework and Agenda authors and bibliography contributors * <>PM
<>8 <>Project assurance meeting <>PM;PAO;PE
<>9 <>Literature review <>PM
<>10 <>Liaison with key specialists (see Appendix) <>PM; SGRP
<>11 <>Attend regional meetings <>PM;SGRP
<>12 <>Analysis of discipline questionnaire results <>PM
<>13 <>Analysis of reference collection questionnaire results <>PM
<>14 <>Prepare draft report on current status of discipline <>PM
<>15 <>Prepare report on results of literature review and existing RF updates <>PM
<>16 <>Circulate reports to Steering Group <>PM
<>Stage2
<>17 <>2nd Steering Group meeting <>SG;PM;PE
<>18 <>Produce draft Research Agenda <>SG;PM
<>19 <>Establish ‘blog’ and ‘Google docs’ facility for reports and draft Research Agenda to allow comments <>PM;TC
<>20 <>Organise seminar <>PM
<>21 <>Hold seminar <>SG;SGRP;PM
<>22 <>Project assurance meeting <>PM;PAO;PE
<>23 <>Edit reports and Research Agenda following circulation and seminar comment <>PM
<>24 <>Produce final Research Agenda report <>PM
<>25 <>Circulate and web mount Research Agenda <>PM;DD
<>Stage3
<>26 <>3rd Steering Group meeting <>SG;PM;PE
<>27 <>Discuss and identify mechanisms for keeping Research Agenda and Research Strategy updated <>SG;PM;PE
<>28 <>Produce draft Research Strategy <>SG;PM
<>29 <>Circulate and mount draft Research Strategy for comments <>PM;DD
<>30 <>Organise seminar <>PM
<>31 <>Hold seminar <>SG;SGRP;PM
<>32 <>Project assurance meeting <>PM;PAO;PE
<>33 <>Edit Research Strategy following circulation and seminar comment <>PM
<>34 <>Produce draft final Research Strategy report <>PM
<>35 <>Circulate final Research Agenda and Research Strategy to Steering Group and Project Executive for comment <>SG;PM;PE
<>36 <>Produce final Research Agenda and Research Strategy reports <>PM
<>Stage4
<>37 <>Circulate final Research Agenda and Research Strategy to Steering Group for sign off <>SG;PM
<>38 <>Circulate and web mount final Research Agenda and Research Strategy <>PM;TC
<>39 <>Prepare Research Agenda and Research Strategy for publication in JRPS <>PM
<>40 <>Project assurance meeting <>PM;PAO;PE
<>41 <>Collate and deposit archive with ADS <>PM
<>42 <>Prepare presentations for SGRP and IFA conferences <>PM
<>43 <>Deliver IFA presentation <>PM
<>44 <>Launch at SGRP conference <>SG;SGRP;PM

* circulation/comment by e-mail, ‘blog/wiki/Google docs’, or hard copy as necessary

Products

The revised Research Agenda and new Research Strategy will be published as a hard copy article in the JRPS and made available free of charge through the SGRP website in pdf format.

The Research Strategy will have a section covering the breadth of work ongoing, as well as potential work for which funding may be sought. This will include what organisations and individuals feel they are able to accomplish during this period.

The results of the questionnaires will also be lodged on the SGRP website.

The project archive will be lodged with the ADS.

12. Ownership

The SGRP will retain intellectual ownership of the Research Agenda and Research Strategy but will
grant licence to English Heritage to use the information as they require.

The existence of these documents will be actively promoted through appropriate professional websites.

For the five-year period of the strategy the SGRP will assess progress annually and will also review the strategy at the end of the period.

13. Risk Log

<>Risk No <>Description <>Probability <>Impact <>Counter Measures
<>1 <>Availability of PM <>Low <>High <>Time variation
<>2 <>Availability of SG members <>Low <>Medium <>Alternatives
<>3 <>Availability of key consultees <>Low to medium <>Medium <>Alternatives

14. Timetable

The project will commence in July 2009 and will finish with the official ‘launch’ of the documents at
the Study Group conference in July 2010.

It is currently anticipated that regional meetings will take place in September/October, the seminar on the revised Research Agenda in December/January and the seminar on the Research Strategy in March/April.

Other contributions

Historic Scotland (for work undertaken in Scotland)