No. 30 – April 1998

Council News

Council met on the 11th February at the British Museum. The meeting was somewhat disjointed, with the railway ‘network’ conspiring to delay the President for over an hour. Prominence was given to a discussion of the second draft of Minimum Standards for the Processing, Recording, Analysis and Publication of Post-Roman Pottery submitted by our working party. It was time that Council collectively considered the recommendations put forward in this document, as previous consultation had been on an individual basis. The discussion was very interesting and productive as we went through each section of the “Standards”. I don’t want to give anything away, nor run the risk of misrepresenting the finished article, but I am sure that this draft is close becoming a very useful document. You will all have a chance to comment in the near future through the regional groups network.

Much of the remainder of the meeting was taken up with the report from the editorial committee. There have been profound delays with the production of last year’s Medieval Ceramics and also with the Guide to the Classification of Medieval Ceramic Forms. The Editors have been working very hard on both these publications and they reported good progress, but there have been unavoidable problems which have now been resolved. The Editors are reasonably certain that the latest Medieval Ceramics will be out as usual in late Spring. The decision to referee the articles submitted to the journal has had the effect of slowing down production but the system is now in place and hopefully all will run smoothly from now on.

The remainder of the meeting consisted of the usual reports from Officers and arrangements for the AGM, which are included in this mailing. The next Council meeting is set for 24th June; if you have any comments or wish to raise any issues please write to me.

Duncan H Brown, Secretary

MPRG Annual Conference 1998

Don’t forget! Our annual conference, this year a one-day meeting on the theme Pottery in England 900-1200 AD, will be on Saturday 16th May at the Museum of London Interpretation Unit, London Wall, 9.30am-5.30pm.

Applications should be returned by 30th April. If you can’t find your leaflet, contact Victoria Buteux, Hereford and Worcester County Archaeological Unit, Tolladine Road, Worcester WR4 9NB, tel 01905 458608.

Regional Group Meeting


The Spring meeting of SEMPER will be held in May/June at Verulamium Museum and will be on the subject of Hertfordshire Greywares, courtesy of Alison Turner-Rugg. For further details (available nearer the time) contact SEMPER coordinator Anna Slowikowski, Bedfordshire Archaeology Service, St Mary’s Archaeological Centre, St Mary’s Street, Bedford MK42 0AS, tel 01234 270009.

Meetings and Conferences

Society for Post Medieval Archaeology and Northern Ceramic Society Joint Conference

A three day meeting will be held in Stoke-on-Trent on Friday 24th to Sunday 26th April 1998, on the subject of Recent work in ceramic history and archaeology. Cost £55 for members of either society, £65 for non-members, reductions for students, accommodation extra.

Further details from David Barker, Archaeology Section, City Museum and Art Gallery, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent ST1 3DW, tel 01782 232323.

Finds Research Group AD700-1700

The Spring meeting of the FRG will be on the theme of Religious sites, religious artefacts. It will be hosted by Guildford Museum on 27th April 1998. Finds from Newark Priory and other Surrey religious establishments will be on show, and papers on Flixborough and London will be included in the programme.

Further details: Quita Mould, Christmas Cottage, Choseley, Docking, Kings Lynn, Norfolk PE31 8PQ, tel 01485 512443.

31st International Convention on Ceramics

This Italian conference will be held on 29th-31st May 1998 at Albisola, on the theme of The Iberian Peninsula and Italy: relation-ships and influences in ceramic production from the medieval period to the 17th century. Sessions will include ‘Spanish ceramics in Italy and their influence on local production’, ‘Influence of Ligurian and Italian ceramics on Spanish production’, and ‘Historico-economic problems concerning circulation and trade in Spanish ceramics’.

For further details contact Prof Carlo Varaldo, Centro Ligure per la Storia della Ceramica, Civico Museo Storico Archeologico, Fortezza del Priamàr, Mazzini 1, 17100 Savona, Italy.

International Medieval Congress 1998

13th-16th July, at the International Medieval Institute, University of Leeds. There will be over 300 sessions on all aspects of the European Middle Ages (c450-1500), as well as events and excursions. Archaeology sessions include several organised by the Society for Medieval Archaeology, the Medieval Settlement Research Group and others, such as ‘Archaeology and urban settlement’, ‘Seasonal settlement’, ‘Peasant houses’, ‘Industry and exchange in the countryside’, ‘Food supply and medieval settlements’, ‘The Great Replanning?: the origins of field systems, villages and towns in Northamptonshire’, ‘Urban elites in Late Medieval York’, ‘Wharram Percy revisited’, ‘Taking goods from Bergen to Berlin: means of transport from an archaeological perspective’, and ‘Urban growth and planning’. Conference fee £89.50 (£99.50 after 15th May), food and accommodation extra. Reduced fee for unwaged etc. £48, and one-day pass £48. Further details from Marianne O’Doherty or Josine Opmeer, International Medieval Congress, Parkinson Building 1.03, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9TJ, tel 0113 233 3614.

7th International Conference on Mediterranean Medieval Ceramics

Advance notice for this mid-October 1999 conference, to be held in Thessalonika. There are three main themes: ‘Between East and west: Byzantine ceramics of 5th-15th centuries’, ‘Centres of production and modes of commercialisation’, and ‘Mahgreb between East and West’. General interest papers and posters will also be welcome. For further details, contact AIECM2, 10 rue Mazarine, 13100 Aix-en-Provence, France. Please note change of telephone number since the last newsletter: tel 04 42 52 43 08, fax 04 42 52 43 78. The email is apparently temporarily unavailable.

Experimental Firing in Suffolk – call for advice!

The Suffolk Archaeological Field Group will be holding a Medieval Weekend on the 2nd-4th October 1998 at Priory Farm, Preston St. Mary. The activities will include a three-day investigation of a medieval house platform, and an experimental clamp or kiln firing with pots made by local amateur and professional potters in medieval styles. The organisers are interested in hearing from anyone who has experience of clamp firings as we haven’t tried it before! Everyone is welcome to attend the open day on Sunday 4th October from 10am, which will include exhibitions, tour of the excavation and pottery firing. Contact Suffolk CC Archaeological Service for more details nearer the time. The organiser, Adrian Thorpe, would like to hear from anyone who has advice on clamp firing. Contact him at Priory Farm, Preston St Mary, Lavenham, Suffolk, tel 01787 247251.

International Ceramics Fair and Seminar

The 17th International Ceramics Fair will be held over the long weekend 12th-15th June 1998 at The Park Lane Hotel, Piccadilly, London. Although mainly a venue for ceramics dealers and collectors, there will be several exhibitions including: ‘Contemporary Ceramics from British Collections’. A series of 15 lectures will also be held, including ‘Pots, Prints and Propaganda: German Stoneware in the Renaissance and Reformation’ by David Gaimster (Friday 12th, 5.15-6.15pm), ‘Dutch Majolica and Early Delftware 1570-1670, some problems in attributions’ by JD Van Dam (Saturday 13th, 11.30am-12.30pm), ‘Isleworth pottery and porcelain: the rediscovery of an 18th century London Factory’ by Roger Massey (Saturday 13th, 2.00-3.00pm), and ‘Excavations and resarch into the Donyatt Potteries and the Virginian Connection’ by Richard Coleman-Smith (Monday 15th, 4.00-5.00pm). Cost is £18 for the first lecture attended, £12 for each subsequent lecture. The price includes a Fair ticket and hardback handbook. For further information contact The International Ceramics Fair and Seminar Ltd, 31 Old Burlington Street, London W1X 1LB, tel 0171 734 5491.

English Heritage Monuments Protection Programme: Clay Industries

I am currently working on the ‘Step One’ report for the clay industries, under the Monument Protection Programme coverage of industrial archaeology topics. My brief is to provide an overview of clay extraction and use over time, including the Roman and medieval periods as well as post-medieval, and to recommend how the issue of statutory protection for relevant sites/structures should be tackled. I am aiming to draw together current thinking on research and site conservation priorities for the different periods and subjects, though the scale of the exercise means that only a ‘broad brush’ approach is possible at this stage.

The database being compiled at King Alfred’s College, Winchester will provide the detailed information for medieval pottery production sites. More problematic is the issue of brick and tile production, particularly the systematic identification of temporary sites, and the issue of how valid criteria for protection can be defined with only limited knowledge of the numbers and character of the potential national population.

My deadline for producing the report is the end of May. If any MPRG member would like to contribute their views about priorities for statutory protection, I would be pleased to receive their comments as soon as possible.

Angela Simco, 13 Green Lane, Clapham, Bedford MK41 6EP, tel 01234 354130.

New Books

Pots and People that have shaped the Heritage of Medieval and Later England

Maureen Mellor, Ashmolean Museum, 1997, 80 pages, 92 illustrations, paperback, £7.95, ISBN 1854440802

The medieval pottery collections of the Ashmolean Museum shed fascinating light on pottery production, trade and consumption in the uniquely well-documented environs of Oxford. The pots themselves, and what they can tell us about life in Oxford from the 9th to the 19th centuries, make up the first part of this book. Colour photographs of the ceramic groups and descriptions of their typological characteristics make this a useful reference section. The second half of the book explores the extraordinary history of the collection itself with biographies of some of the collectors. Splendidly illustrated, this is an excellent guide to medieval pottery and also an absorbing book. Part of a series commissioned by the Ashmolean on their collections.

Marseille, les ateliers de potiers du XIIIe siecle et le quartier Sainte-Barbe

Henri Marchese, Jacques Thiriot, Lucy Vallauri (eds), DAF 65, 1997, 389 pages, 320 illustrations, paperback, £34, ISBN 2735106217

A report on the excavations of potters’ workshops making unglazed and glazed wares, including tin-glazed bowls, jugs and tiles. Dating from the 13th century, the workshops include a kiln of Islamic tradition showing evidence of the movement of craftsmen and knowledge. Includes numerous drawings of kilns and pottery. An important site providing early evidence of the introduction of majolica in Southern France.

Information from Oxbow Book News 37.

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