Roman pottery specialists gathered at the King’s Centre in Oxford in June for the annual conference of the Study Group for Roman pottery.
The theme of the meeting was late Roman pottery, though talks were not confined to that topic. Paul Booth from Oxford Archaeology began proceedings with an introduction to late Roman Oxfordshire. Edward Biddulph, also of Oxford Archaeology, was next with a talk on the later Roman pottery from the roadside settlement at Berryfields in Aylesbury. Malcolm Lyne rounded the morning session off with a talk on a late Roman kiln from Canterbury. After coffee break, delegates heard about pottery from Southwark, courtesy of PCA’s Enikő Hudák, and Jane Timby then talked about pottery from rural Gloucestershire. Isobel Thompson followed with a talk on aspects of regionality in the types and distribution of grog-tempered ware in south-eastern Britain.
After lunch, there was an opportunity to view pottery assemblages brought by some of the group’s members. Attendees were treated to groups of colour-coated wares and white ware mortaria from Oxford-region kiln sites (the original excavator and Oxford industry expert Christopher Young was on hand to answer questions), as well as pottery from west Oxfordshire, the New Forest and elsewhere.
The group’s annual general meeting, held as part of the conference, was a chance to present Christopher Young, the group’s outgoing president, with a replica face-pot in gratitude for his hard work in the post.
The day closed with a talk by Christopher on how to put the Oxford industry back on the map and make it relevant to schools and the local community. The following day, Christopher led a smaller group of Study Group members on a tour of North Leigh Roman villa and the pottery collections at the county museum in Woodstock.
All in all, a successful weekend. We would like to thank the King’s Centre for hosting the Study Group and providing a superb lunch, and Archaeopress and BAR Publishing for their book stalls.
Oxford pottery industry luminaries Christopher Young (front) and Paul Booth (middle) at North Leigh villa (Photo: Jane Timby)
Study Group for Roman Pottery Annual Conference
Saturday 16th June – Sunday 17th June 2018
Venue: The King’s Centre, Osney Mead, Oxford
Theme: Late Roman Pottery and other ceramic matters
This year the SGRP conference will be a one-day conference with an optional second day and is being held at the Kings Centre, Osney Mead, Oxford, OX2 0ES. This is easily accessible by car and train and is located close to Oxford Archaeology. On Saturday we will combining lectures with pottery handling and a ‘pottery ‘road-show’ where you can bring along your query colour-coats and we can disagree as to what they are. On the Sunday we will arrange a guided tour of North Leigh Roman villa from where we will go to Woodstock where there are plenty of eating places to suit all pockets followed by the opportunity to visit the Oxfordshire Museum at Woodstock before returning to Oxford.
Click the link below to download the timetable, venue and accommondation details and the registration form:
SGRP Conference Oxford 2018: Timetable and registration (pdf)
Bowl in Oxford red/brown colour-coated ware (Photo: Paul Booth)
Study Group for Roman Pottery Annual Conference
Saturday 16th June – Sunday 17th June 2018
Venue: The King’s Centre, Osney Mead, Oxford
Theme: Late Roman Pottery
This year the SGRP conference will be a one-day conference with an optional second day and is being held at the Kings Centre, Oxford. On Saturday we will be combining lectures with pottery handling and a pottery ‘road-show’, where attendees can bring along query colour-coated wares. On Sunday, we will be aiming to visit North Leigh Roman villa and the County Museum, Woodstock. Watch this space for more details.
We would like to invite short papers (20 mins) on the subject of late Roman pottery. Please send any offers of papers to the SGRP secretary.
An interesting query came through to Study Group members by way of website’s comment form. Keith Lowndes, a member of the South Oxfordshire Archaeological Group (SOAG), asked:
“I was wondering if you could advise me as to a contact relating to a translation of a motto on a Trier motto beaker. It has the letters ‘A M A N T I D A’. We cannot match it to any motto. Various suggestions for a translation have been put forward – ‘I/they love to give’, ‘Give to your lover’. Any help would be appreciated.”
The vessel in question had been found on a site excavated by SOAG in Oxfordshire, and the query was circulated to Study Group members. Responses soon came in thick and fast.
The Rhenish ware beaker from Trier found by SOAG’s Anne Strick. Photo: (c) SOAG
“…it is to do with drinking to a girlfriend. ‘Here’s looking at you baby’ for older readers. I suppose ‘Give to the loving’ literally.”
“‘Da’ is the singular of the command form meaning ‘give’, which can be placed either first or last. The word ‘amanti’ does not signify gender of the person ‘loving’, but it is in the dative case, meaning therefore to the person loving = ‘to the lover’. The word ‘your’ may be presumed, and therefore it may be translated, ‘Give to your lover’ – whatever his/her gender.”
“AMANTI (dative of amans, lover) DA (imperative of dato/dare, to give), so ‘Give to the lover!’, as already suggested.”
“I read the inscription DA AMANTI and agree with [the] translation: ‘Give to your lover’.”
“’DA’ can to be understood in an erotic or in an ambiguous sense. The imperative ‘DA’ has more often this context on the Trierer Spruchbecher, for example ‘DA MI(hi)’.”
“This is definitely the two words ‘amanti da’: ‘give to a lover’ (or ‘give to your lover’).”
“The question is, who is being addressed, a giver or a receiver? It doesn’t say ‘give me’ or ‘give this’, though that seems to be the meaning. But there could also be innuendo here, since the phrase can mean ‘grant it to your lover’”
Thank you to everyone who responded, and thank you, too, to Keith Lowndes for getting in touch. Keith has also drawn our attention to another Rhenish ware beaker found by SOAG. This second vessel is on the SOAG website and can be viewed in 3D.
The annual conference of the Study Group for Roman Pottery was held this year at Tullie House Museum in Carlisle. During a weekend in July, delegates heard talks on Roman pottery from Carlisle, other sites in north-west England, and the results of work on larger projects, both in Britain and abroad.
There was also a visit to the Roman fort of Vindolanda, where delegates were treated to a guided tour by Andrew Birley, CEO of The Vindolanda Trust, and the firing of a replica Roman kiln, built by experimental archaeologist and potter, Graham Taylor. There was just about time, too, for a walk along the wall from Gilsland to Birdoswald on Hadrian’s Wall.
Every year at the conference, the John Gillam Prize is awarded to a piece of recent work that has made an important contribution to Roman pottery studies. This year’s prize was awarded to Edward Biddulph, Joyce Compton and Scott Martin for their work on the late Iron Age and Roman assemblage from Elms Farm, Heybridge.
By all accounts, the conference was a great success. Thanks are owed to the staff of the Tullie House Museum for hosting the conference, and to Stephen Wadeson, supported by the SGRP Committee, for organising the weekend.
Conference gallery (photos by David Bird, Diana Briscoe, Joyce Compton, and Stephen Wadeson)
The tour of Vindolanda
On a tour of Vindolanda (Photo: Joyce Compton)
The Kiln firing
Black burnished ware-type dish made in Carlisle (c) Oxford Archaeology
This year the SGRP conference will be held in the City of Carlisle, and will be a full weekend combining lectures, pottery handling, site tours, and food. The SGRP last visited Carlisle in 1999, and in the intervening period a large number of excavations both in Carlisle and the surrounding landscape have taken place.
Over the weekend the group will be addressing several themes, including the Roman pottery of Carlisle, North West Britain and pottery from larger projects and international sites.
The conference will be located at Tullie House for all three days. On Friday evening there will be a wine reception at Tullie House with access to the Roman Frontier Gallery, while on Saturday afternoon site visits will include a guided tour at the Roman Fort of Vindolanda by Andrew Birley. The visit will also include a firing of a replica Roman pottery kiln by Graham Taylor.
The conference promises to an exciting one, and early booking is recommended. Click on the link below to download the conference programme, booking form, and information about prices, accommodation and bursaries.
SGRP Conference 2017: Tullie House, Carlisle. Conference information
Information for attendees wishing to pay their conference booking by bank transfer
The online version of the National Roman Fabric Reference Collection: A Handbook, is now live on the Study Group for Roman Pottery website.
The handbook, which was originally published in 1998, is an essential resource for researchers and anyone interested in Roman pottery wishing to identify and describe major regional and traded wares, including amphorae, samian and Romano-British finewares. The online resource contains detailed fabric descriptions, enhanced digital images of the original fresh-break photos, and a photomicrograph for each fabric.
Roberta Tomber, who along with John Dore wrote the original handbook, said:
“It is a great pleasure to announce that the National Roman Fabric Reference Collection: A Handbook is now live on the SGRP website. Hopefully it will be a valuable resource for a wide range of users. Numerous organisations and individuals were instrumental in finalising the resource and are thanked in the introduction to the site. Here I would like to mention the Roman Research Trust, who funded this resource, and Museum of London Archaeology, Historic England and the British Museum, all of whom have had a longstanding input into the NRFRC. Above all, I am grateful to Paul Tyers, whose tireless efforts are responsible for the completion of this project.”
Click here to visit the resource pages or click on the link in the side menu.
The SGRP 2017 conference will be held at Tullie House in Carlisle from Friday 14th July to Sunday 16th July. Over the weekend we hope to address several themes, including Roman pottery from North-West Britain and pottery from other larger projects. There will also be a visit to the Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage site.
The Committee would like to invite 20 minute papers on recent or current pottery research. While we hope for a particular emphasis on material from the North of Britain, all contributions will be considered. Anyone wishing to give a paper is asked to provide a title and submit a short abstract of c 100-200 words to the Secretary by 31st January 2017.
Further details about the conference will be posted in due course.
Pottery is one of the most common artefacts recovered from archaeological excavations. While it is widely regarded as a reliable tool for dating, pottery is also significant as evidence for technology, tradition, modes of distribution, patterns of consumption, and site formation processes.
But when simple, basic tasks have not been carried out, and the true value of an assemblage has not been understood, the potential for missing important information is too great. With that in mind, A Standard for Pottery Studies in Archaeology takes the reader through the various stages of an archaeological project, from planning and data collection through to report writing and archiving, with the intention of informing not only pottery specialists but also those who manage and monitor projects.
This Standard, produced with funding from Historic England, was compiled by the Prehistoric Ceramics Research Group, the Study Group for Roman Pottery and the Medieval Pottery Research Group, with the aim of creating the first comprehensive, inclusive standard for working with pottery. It is intended for use in all types of archaeological project, including those run by community groups, professional contractors and research institutions.
Click here to download a copy of A Standard for Pottery Studies in Archaeology.
The Insight from Innovation conference, held in honour of David Peacock, provided an opportunity for representatives of the three main pottery groups (SGRP, PCRG and MPRG) to collaborate on a joint paper in honour of David Peacock. The paper reflected on Peacock’s contribution to pottery studies and reviewed some strengths and weaknesses of current practice. This collaboration was itself a significant innovation, for, although sharing many of the same interests, methods and concerns, the three period groups have typically functioned in isolation.
The principal objectives of the published paper were to emphasise shared ambitions and methodologies and to advocate the case for a joint guidance document that would press for appropriate standards of analysis to be maintained, and for innovation to be fostered, in the face of increasing commercial pressures. The collaboration forged between the three groups, while working on this paper, resulted in the production of the joint pottery standards, which have now been published.
The paper, ‘Hold your beliefs lightly’: Innovation and best practice in Prehistoric, Roman and post-Roman ceramic studies in Britain, by Jane Evans, Duncan Brown and David Knight, can be downloaded here.
Insight from Innovation: New Light on Archaeological Ceramics, edited by Emilie Sibbesson, Ben Jervis and Sarah Coxon, is published by Oxbow Books. Click here for more details.