Medieval Pottery Research Group

Medieval Ceramics 24, 2000
Contents and Abstracts

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Medieval Ceramics 24

A4, 124 pages, including 3 full-page colour plates


Contents

Editorial
Jacqueline Pearce and Lucy Whittingham
1
The Medieval Pottery Research Group at Twenty-Five: Past, Present and Future
Various authors
3
The Formation of the Second Generation: a documented version of the origin and early history of the MPRG
Hugo Blake
12
Imported Ceramics Studies in Britain
John G Hurst
23
Identity and Ethnicity: a ceramic case study from the Isle of Man
PJ Davey
31
Pottery studies in the North-West 1975-2000 and beyond
Julie Edwards
40
Scottish Pottery Studies: 25 years on
Derek Hall, George Haggerty and Charles Murray
49
Aspects of the production, evolution and use of Ceramic Building Materials in the Middle Ages
Paul Drury
56
The Gerald Dunning Archive and the study of medieval ceramic roof furniture
Barbara Hurman and Beverley Nenk
63
Reinventing the sherd: 25 years of pottery statistics
Clive Orton
73
Fabrics and Food: 25 years of scientific analysis of medieval ceramics
M.J. Hughes and J. Evans
79
 
Compendiario
A Late Medieval Pottery Production Site at Sutton, Suffolk
Sue Anderson
91
A Surrey-Hampshire Border WareDouble Dish in Virginia
Beverly Straube
93
Obituary: James Deetz
96
 
Reviews
John Carswell Blue and White Chinese Porcelain Around the World (Jennifer Barry)97
John P Cotter Post-Roman Pottery from Excavations in Colchester, 1971-85 (Maureen Mellor)98
Alejandra Gutiérrez Mediterranean Pottery in Wessex Households (13th to 17th centuries) (Duncan H Brown) 99

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Abstracts

The Medieval Pottery Research Group at Twenty-Five: Past, Present and Future

Various authors

This is not a conventional paper of the kind that forms the mainstay of Medieval Ceramics. In order to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the MPRG, we invited several stalwarts of the medieval pottery fraternity to contribute their thoughts on the Group, their involvement with its genesis and growth, and their views on the present state of the profession and their hopes, or otherwise, for years to come. The following assemblage of personal reminiscence, historical narrative, learned comment, penetrating nalysis of current trends and challenges for the future is offered as a tribute to the those members of the Group, past and present, who have done so much over the past 25 years to put medieval pottery studies on the map. Not everyone we asked to contribute was able to do so, and those who responded are presented here in strict alphabetical order; any omissions from the pantheon are not intentional. A group of presidents, past and present, is shown in Colour Plate 1.


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The Formation of the Second Generation: a documented version of the origin and early history of the MPRG

Hugo Blake

John Hurst's evening classes at Goldsmiths' and the Post-Medieval Ceramic Research Group were precedents for the MPRG, although the Medieval Pottery Seminar at the University of London was the catalyst and the Study Group for Romano-British Coarse Pottery the model. The Group was founded to aid a new cadre of specialists process large quantities of pottery from urban excavations. Its first task, now complete, was to produce guidelines under government aegis. Its modus operandi was the annual meeting or conference, and later the Bulletin, the newsletter and the co-ordination of regional groups. To ensure succession it is suggested that we consider returning to our academic roots.


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Imported Ceramics Studies in Britain

John G Hurst

The first excavated examples of medieval and post-medieval imported ceramics, in the 17th and 18th centuries, were often misdated as Roman, or even Phoenician; it was not until the mid-19th century that imported ceramics began to be regularly reported and more correctly identified. The number of finds expanded greatly after World War II. With the vast increase in excavations; research in the 1960s and 1970s attempted to identify their sources. The social and economic aspects of these imports need more study: it is disappointing that progress in the last twenty-five years has, with a few exceptions, been so limited.


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Identity and Ethnicity: a ceramic case study from the Isle of Man

PJ Davey

This is a consideration of the origins, chronology and significance of Manx granite-tempered ware, which is a hand-made, coarseware made on the Isle of Man from the 12th to the 16th centuries. The ware is compared with Leinster ware from the east of Ireland and everted rim ware from Ulster. The role of Norwegian settlers in its genesis is considered and the degree to which they brought part of the technology with them from Scandinavia is assessed. The ware is also considered in the context of contemporary debates on the relative roles of Norse and 'Celtic' elements in Manx identity.


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Pottery studies in the North-West 1975-2000 and beyond

Julie Edwards

This paper briefly outlines the state of knowledge regarding the production and distribution of medieval pottery in the north-west. In contrast to the large area covered by the region known production sites are sparse and knowledge of pottery use in the region is patchy. Carlisle and Chester have produced good well-stratified assemblages yet small, poorly stratified and abraded assemblages typify large parts of the region. In some areas little progress has been made since 1975 although some areas have produced their first groups of medieval pottery. This situation reflects, as well as contributes to, wider problems regarding the interpretation and dating of the region's medieval archaeology. The paper surveys current archaeological activity in the region and ascertains what potential there may be to answer the remaining questions about pottery production and distribution. The activities of the North West Region MPRG and its hopes.


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Scottish Pottery Studies: 25 years on

Derek Hall, George Haggerty and Charles Murray

In a paper given at the 25th Anniversary conference of MPRG at Oxford University in March 2000 three of Scotland's leading pottery specialists review the progress of Scottish pottery studies over the past 25 years. The limited work on production centres and current projects is reviewed and a bright forecast is predicted for the future of the study in Scotland.


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Aspects of the production, evolution and use of Ceramic Building Materials in the Middle Ages

Paul Drury

The essential differences between the nature and use of pottery and ceramic building materials in the medieval period are considered, as a preliminary to an overview of evolving patterns of use of the latter in England. A 'century of innovation', c1130-1230, is proposed, characterised by the emergence through experiment of a very wide range of forms, soon reduced to much smaller ranges, standardised within regions. The changing role of 'Flemish' brick in England through the remainder of the medieval period is considered: until the late 14th century largely as a concealed material, thereafter increasingly expressed as a cultural statement.


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The Gerald Dunning Archive and the study of medieval ceramic roof furniture

Barbara Hurman and Beverley Nenk

This paper is an overview of Gerald Dunning's contribution to the subject of medieval ceramic roof furniture, and to the study of the subject since his death. Dunning's archive of papers and drawings was donated to the British Museum after his death in 1978. The section of the archive devoted to the subject of medieval and post-medieval ceramic roof furniture included both draft texts and illustrations. The 138 pages of drawings were organised by Dunning into a typology for chimney pots, finials and louvers.


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Reinventing the sherd: 25 years of pottery statistics

Clive Orton

Since 1975 there has been a lively debate about pottery statistics, with new approaches being suggested and their relative performances carefully scrutinised. Recent contributions, however, have a distinct air of déja vu, and could easily be mistaken for 1970s documents. So what has happened – are we condemned to a cycle of rediscovery every generation, or were the last 25 years a dead end? This question is approached by looking at what ceramic specialists want from statistics in general and quantification in particular. There seem to be several possible needs, for example: description of current assemblages, estimation of the parameters of past assemblages, emotional satisfaction, etc. It follows that no one measure is inherently 'right' or 'best' – it depends on what we want from it. But perhaps some 'wants' are more useful, achievable or creative than others.


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Fabrics and Food: 25 years of scientific analysis of medieval ceramics

MJ Hughes and J Evans

Scientific techniques have been extensively applied to medieval ceramics over the last 25 years, and as the techniques have developed the types of information obtained have widened. Major advances have been made in provenance studies, including a number of large-scale projects involving hundreds of sherds. Questions of ancient technology have also held the attention of scientists and ceramic specialists. In addition, the uses to which pots were put have been investigated by the analysis of food residues and other organic deposits using techniques for organic chemical analysis.


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