Although this industry produced a wide variety of coarse ware products, only the mortaria are represented here. It is primarily a regional ware, but rare sherds have been reported outside Norfolk.
Our samples are pale pink-brown (5YR 7/8) with a grey-brown (7.5YR 6/1) core, occasionally with a yellower (7.5YR 7/6) interior surface, although often surfaces do not survive. More typically the fabric may have orange-brown surfaces with a grey or red core (M de Bootman, pers comm), sometimes described as ‘burnt orange’ (A Lyons, pers comm). It is hard with an irregular fracture and a rough feel. Mortarium forms are stylistically similar to those produced in the Lower Nene Valley.
Overall the inclusions are ill sorted and appear quite coarse, with most measuring between 0.3–0.5mm although fragments up to 0.9mm are present. Quartz, red-brown and black iron-rich grains and limestone are routinely present. Quartz is consistently common, while the frequency of the other two varies from sparse to common. Flint (3.5mm) is present in one sample. Trituration grits are abundant ill-sorted black slag ranging up to 5.0mm, but normally c 2.0–3.0mm; sparse polycrystalline quartz is also present in smaller sizes (0.7–1.9mm), while one sample has a single flint grain (2.0mm) which may be a trituration grit.
A fine but poorly mixed, calcareous clay with rare silt inclusions can be seen in thin section. Abundant limestone, sometimes fossiliferous, together with some microfossils and shell, are present in the matrix and frequently measure <0.3mm. Other inclusions are diverse and ill sorted, measuring up to 1.5mm, and comprising common flint and quartz, with fewer opaques, sandstone, quartzite and polycrystalline quartz. A single grain of slag (1.0mm) is part of the trituration grit, and some of the larger examples of other inclusion types, particularly flint, are likely to be as well.
Five production sites are known around the Nar Valley edge, from the region of Blackborough End, Pentney, Tottenhill, Narborough and Shouldham. Six kilns have been excavated at Pentney, but only a few seem to be associated with mortarium production (M de Bootman, pers comm).
Norfolk Museums Service
Lynn Museum, King’s Lynn; Norwich Castle Museum
Andrews, G, 1985 The coarse wares, in Excavations at Brancaster 1974 and 1977 (J Hinchliffe with C S Green), East Anglian Archaeol 23, 82–98
Hartley, K F, 1995a The mortaria, in The Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Spong Hill, North Elmham, part 7: the Iron Age, Roman and early Saxon settlement (R Rickett), East Anglian Archaeol 73, 97–9 and microfiche 3–4M de Bootman holds a Pentney reference collection