No. 31 – August 1998

Newsletter No. 31 – August 1998

Council News

Council met at the British Museum on the 24th June. The president opened the meeting by welcoming new Council members and officers. He also expressed concern at the delays we have suffered in the appearance of Medieval Ceramics and the Guide to the Classification of Medieval Ceramic Forms. All of us on Council are aware of this problem and working hard on behalf of the Group. We will try to improve but in the meantime we hope that the Group’s membership will continue to be patient.

The Secretary reported little other than the usual enquiries. The Treasurer announced that he has found an auditor for the accounts, who was adopted by Council in accordance with the arrangement made at the AGM. The accounts remain healthy.

The report from the Editorial Committee was as full as ever. They have conducted a post-mortem on the ‘Guide’, highlighting the problems encountered in production. One unfortunate effect of these problems has been to force us to raise the price of the ‘Guide’ to cover unexpected outlay. Those of you who saw the pre-publication copy at the London meeting will know that it is worth every penny! Progress on two other occasional papers is slow. English Heritage have asked for more analytical work to be done on Ipswich Ware and Lyn Blackmore has returned to Norway to try and finish off her work on the Trondheim redwares. It is hoped, however, that our Minimum Standards for the Processing and Publication of Medieval Pottery will be available soon for consultation by the membership. The target date for publication of Medieval Ceramics 21 is September. The Committee, and especially the editorial team, have put in a lot of hard work and received deserved thanks from the President.

The report from our new Meetings Secretary concentrated on next year’s conference which will be a two-day meeting with the Prehistoric Ceramics Research Group (see below). The Roman Pottery Research Group have also been invited but had not responded. It was suggested that we rotate between a few fixed venues for future one-day meetings, as attendance at these has been so variable. London, Birmingham and Sheffield were suggested as three easily-accessible places and meetings would be held at each of these in turn, every other year. This would have the advantage of making organisation smoother and allowing the Meetings Secretary to concentrate on the three-day conferences that are held in alternate years. I would be interested to know what the Membership feels about the towns that have been suggested.

Alan Vince reported that the English Heritage Implementation Committee has not met for some time. This was set up to see through the recommendations of the Mellor report but is now at rest. It is perhaps now the responsibility of the Group, particularly through the Regional Groups, to address the remaining recommendations. Chris Cumberpatch, as the new Regional Groups Officer, was given the task of reviewing the recommendations and considering a way forward.

A number of suggestions for the celebration of the Group’s 25th Anniversary, in the year 2000 were put forward from the new working party. These ranged from the production of postcards and a booklet to excavating a pottery kiln. Council considered all these excellent suggestions and is looking forward to working towards a great celebration.

Finally, it was agreed that since Audrey Gahan is no longer a member of MPRG, Claire McCutcheon be invited to act as Irish representative to Council.

The next meeting is on the 21st October, if there are any points any of you want to raise, please write to me.

Duncan H Brown, Secretary

MPRG Conference 1999

Building bridges: a multidisciplinary approach to ceramic studies

The MPRG annual conference will be held at Sheffield over two days in May 1999.

The aim is to promote collaboration and discussion across regional, chronological and institutional boundaries and stimulate fruitful dialogue. Delegates and speakers will be encouraged from prehistoric, Roman and medieval interest groups.

Lectures will broadly cover processing and interpretation of ceramics from deposition to final publication. Specific areas of discussion will focus on cross-regional fabric studies; fabric archives; minimum standards of processing; methods of interpretation including formation processes and skeuomorphs; and new methods of communication using the internet and virtual reality.

Visits will be arranged to view relevant sites and ceramics.

Anyone wishing to contribute please contact Anne Jenner (or leave a message) on 01207 529553 or 0191 281 6251.

Medieval Ceramics

All individual members should by now have received a copy of Medieval Ceramics Volume 20. If not, please contact us.

Volume 21 of the Journal is currently undergoing final editing and proofs of part of it have already been printed. It should be out in the near future.

Volume 22 is in preparation and several papers have been submitted. However, the editors would like to hear from anyone who has either a full paper or, particularly, a short paper for inclusion in the Compendiario section, as very few of the latter have been submitted in recent years. Contact the Editors care of the British Museum.

Regional Group Meetings

NW Region

The NWRMPRG held a meeting last December to discuss recent work in the north-west and to consider holding regular meetings once more. It was a useful day, it was good to see pottery and people from various parts of the region. People had the opportunity to examine Manx granite tempered ware, groups of medieval pottery found in Lancaster and Chester as well as kiln material from Cheshire. A talk was given on the collections held by Liverpool Museum and a progress report on the National Bibliography was also given.

It was decided to hold meetings every six months or so. It is hoped that the next meeting will be in Lancaster this summer. The meeting will provide the opportunity to examine kiln material from Silverdale and Docker as well as to have a closer look at more recently excavated medieval pottery from Lancaster. Unfortunately, this meeting may already have been held by the time you receive this. Ed.

If you would like to be on the Group’s mailing list, please contact Julie Edwards, c/o Chester Archaeology, 27 Grosvenor Street, Chester CH1 2DD.

Regional Groups Liaison

Chris Cumberpatch has recently taken over from Beverley Nenk as Regional Group Liaison Officer. He would like to receive any news about future meetings or activities organised by regional groups. Contact him at 22 Tennyson Road, Lower Walkley, Sheffield S6 2WE, tel/fax 0114 231 0051.

Meetings and Conferences

European Association of Archaeologists

The 1998 EAA Conference, on 23rd-27th September 1998, will have three main themes, one of which is ‘Archaeology and material culture: interpreting the archaeological record’. This will include sessions on such diverse topics as: Wining and dining; the archaeology and social history of the Table in post-Roman Europe; Urban archaeology; The archaeology of wealth, prestige and value: processes and dynamics; Interpreting cultural identities in the archaeological record; Spatial analysis: landscape and material culture; Landscape and settlement archaeology; and Burial analysis – new approaches. There are several others, so send for details now! The final programme is due at the end of August. Further details from Dept. of Archaeology, Gutteborg University, Box 200, SE-405 30 Gutteborg, Sweden, tel +46 31 773 5181, (fax 5182), email EAA 98, web

Finds Research Group AD700-1700

The Autumn meeting of the FRG will be on the theme of ‘Riding into the Past’ and will be spent examining aspects of horse riding and horse equipment. It will be held at the Friends meeting House, Worcester on 26th October 1998. Further details from Derek Hurst, tel 01905 611086.

FRG membership is still only £3 (£5 overseas). Contact Katey Banks, The Potteries Museum, Bethesda Street, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent ST1 3DW, tel 01782 202173, fax 01782 205033.

Majolica and glass: from Italy to Antwerp and beyond. The transfer of technology in the 16th–early 17th century.

This conference will be particularly concerned with workshops for the production of luxury tablewares established by Italians in Antwerp, and the diffusion of this technology to other regions in North-Western Europe. The place of majolica and glass within the broader setting of the 16th century economic and social developments and processes will also be considered. Material from excavations in Antwerp will be on display and there will be poster displays and space for material brought by delegates. Papers will be presented in English and French. The conference will take place in Antwerp on 3rd-5th June 1999, and the fee will be approximately 1500 BEF. For further information, or to offer a poster, contact Stad Antwerpen, Archeologie, Godefriduskaai 36, B-2000 Antwerpen, Belgium, tel/fax +32 3 232 9208.

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, tel 04 42 52 43 08, fax 04 42 52 43 78. The email is apparently temporarily unavailable.

Ceramics courses

Early prehistoric pottery

18-25.8.98. Contact: Department of Continuing Education, Rewley House, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford OX1 2JA, tel 01865 270360.

Prehistoric pottery

19-20.9.98. Contact: Centre for Continuing Education, University of Sussex, Educational Development Building, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9RG, tel 01273 678527.

Iron Age and Roman pottery

3.10.98. Contact: Kent Archaeological Field School, School Farm Oast, Graveney Road, Faversham, Kent ME13 8UP, tel 0181 747 3683.

Editor’s note: If you are running a course like these, please let me know so that it can be included for the benefit of less experienced members.


European Exhibitions 1998

The newsletter of the Association Bourguignonne de Recherches Ceramiques contains listings of no less than 24 exhibitions with ceramic themes (mostly post-medieval) which are on show in France and Italy this year. Examples include ‘Le pot de chambre en faïence’ at Badonviller; ‘Céramiques architecturales: céramiques dans ma ville,céramiques dans ma vie’ at Dieulefit (until end August); ‘Terres d’industrie’ at Creusot (until October); and ‘Un gout d’Italie: céramiques et céramistes italiens en Provence du Moyen-Age au XXe siecle’ at Fréjus (to 1st October). Those producing published catalogues are also noted, together with costs and contact addresses. The newsletter also lists several recent French and other European publications.

For a copy of the newsletter (No. 20, June 1998), which is sent out three times a year, write to Jean Rosen, ABRC, c/o Musee archaeologique, 5 rue Dr Maret, 21000 Dijon, France, tel/fax 03 80 53 61 71. Subscription costs 130F.

Shoji Hamada: Master Potter

Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, August 1998.

A loan exhibition of the work of this influential Japanese artist (1894-1978). Universally recognised as one of the century’s greatest masters of the craft, he worked with Bernard Leach in establishing the pottery of St Ives in the 1920’s.

Tiles from East and West

Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, November 1998 to January 1999.

This special exhibition is a unique collaboration by the Departments of Eastern Art, Western Art and Antiquities at the Ashmolean Museum. It brings together tile art from 8th century BC Mesopotamia through to 19th century industrial England, touching along the way the Roman Empire, the Islamic world including Spain, Northern French influences on the medieval English paving tile, Renaissance Italy and Dutch tin glaze tiles.

There will be a study day on Tuesday 24th November to explore the cross-cultural splendours of the three collections. A rich programme includes lectures by museum staff and specialists in the morning, and a handling session in the afternoon, looking at Islamic, Renaissance and English Delft tiles, offering participants a chance to follow influences and compare styles and materials. Further details from The Ashmolean Education Service, Beaumont Street, Oxford OX1 2PH. Cost £18. Limited to 36 participants.

Art and Culture of the Carolingian Period

An exhibition will be held in Paderborn, Germany, in 1999 to mark the 1200th anniversary of an alliance between Charlemagne and Pope Leo III which was negotiated in the latter’s palace at Paderborn.

According to the publicity material, this meeting in 799 was a momentous event which changed the spiritual and political landscape of Europe. The international exhibition which will be held to celebrate it, will include aspects of the art, culture and history of the period. It will run from 23rd July to 1st November 1999, and will take place in several museums and galleries across the city. Archaeological material, works of art, jewellery, illuminated manuscripts, historical documents and architectural models will be on display. Themes will include the Saxon Wars and Frankish territorial expansion in the late 8th century, 9th century settlement in Westphalia, the concept of imperial rule, ecclesiastical art and architecture, and art and liturgy in the Carolingian period. Objects and artefacts will be loaned from major collections in Germany, Italy, France, England and the USA. Further information from Ausstellung 799 GbR, Markt 17, D-33098 Paderborn, Germany, tel +49(0)5251 125-400, fax 125-495, email

The MPRG website and email

The MPRG has a temporary page courtesy of Paul Miles’ website. It contains a copy of the information in the newsletter, information on joining the group and purchasing its publications, and lists of other relevant websites and ceramic groups. You can visit it at

The site also lists email addresses for several Council members. Information for the newsletter can now be sent by email (see below for my address), and anything which needs publicising between newsletters can be advertised on the web page.

Contact Paul Miles, c/o Oxford Archaeological Unit, Janus House, Osney Mead, Oxford OX2 0ES, tel 01865 243888.

A Guide to the Classification of Medieval Ceramic Forms

This first occasional paper has now been published, so pre-publication prices are no longer applicable. New prices and details now online.

New Books

Les Faïenceries de l’Auxerrois.

Camille Pellet
éditions de l’Armançon, 1998, 128 pages, 130 illustrations, 195F.

The first large study of this material takes a global approach, using archive research, archaeological material, scientific analysis and inventories of public and private collections.

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