No. 35 – December 1999

Council News

Council met on 13th December at the British Museum. Unfortunately due to illness and other commitments the turnout was low, but surviving members managed to work through a fairly full agenda.

The bulk of the meeting was, as usual, devoted to the work of the Editorial Committee. Volume 22 of Medieval Ceramics should be with the typesetters in January, with an estimated publication date in spring 2000. Papers (including some presented at the 1999 Sheffield conference) have already been received for Volume 23, which is well advanced; it is hoped to publish this later in 2000, but the Editorial Committee would welcome further offers of papers or shorter articles for this volume. The Guide to the Classification of Medieval Ceramic Forms is still selling steadily, and there has been progress on other projected Occasional Papers. Trondheim Redwares should be completed and published in 2000, and the Ipswich volume has also reached the final stages of preparation for publication. Work on the Minimum Standards document has temporarily halted but offers of help to incorporate suggested amendments and additions should speed things up – this document too should be completed early in 2000. The Bibliography is well in hand.

Council recognises that MPRG may not have been doing enough in the way of self-publicity. We need an updated and accessible web site, a new and more eye-catching publicity leaflet, and a new logo. Chris Cumberpatch has offered to take this matter forward, and an appeal from him can be found elsewhere in this newsletter. This publicity drive would be well timed to coincide with our 25th Anniversary celebrations next year, and the production of our pottery ‘Supergroup’ postcard (more news on this elsewhere).

Preparations for next year’s conference are well advanced. The venue is Oxford, the dates 29th-30th March, and the theme is a retrospective look at medieval pottery studies over the last 25 years, looking at how we have advanced and, hopefully, how we can continue to advance in the future. Preliminary publicity for the conference will be distributed with this newsletter, or very shortly afterwards. Council is pursuing invitations from Raeren and from Dublin for 2001 and 2002 respectively.

Council would like to take the opportunity to wish all members the best for the festive season, and here’s looking forward to the new millennium and our 25th anniversary!

Lorraine Mepham, Secretary

IMPORTANT: Change of Address

The MPRG address is changing from the British Museum to c/o Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent ST1 3DW

This will take immediate effect, although mail will still be forwarded from the British Museum for a limited period.


The EGM, which is to be held in order to present the MPRG accounts for the past two years to members, will be combined with the spring meeting of SEMPER, for which a provisional date of Saturday 11th March 2000 has been set, with a venue in Aylesbury. Members will receive firm details nearer the date. SEMPER is organised by Anna Slowikowski, St Mary’s Archaeology Centre, St Mary’s Street, Bedford, MK42 0AS, tel 01234 270002.


The year 2000, as our 25th anniversary, is an appropriate time to think about publicity for the Group, and how we can raise public awareness of our aims and activities. An important part of this must be the updating and maintenance of our web site. We are aware that there have been access problems with this, and Council is investigating how we can improve the web site to incorporate more (and regularly updated) information, and to enable easier access.

We are also looking at producing new publicity flyers for distribution, and as part of this we need a new logo. A recent competition to design a new logo sadly elicited no response (where are all you budding designers?), but we are trying again. We want something simple and eye-catching, which captures the spirit of the MPRG (if that’s not too much to ask). Please send your designs (or indeed any other ideas for publicity) to Chris Cumberpatch, 22 Tennyson Road, Lower Walkley, Sheffield S6 2WE, tel/fax: 0114 231 0051.

Journal (Medieval Ceramics)

We are keen to encourage a wide range of contributions from members and others, dealing with all kinds of ceramics from the Saxon, medieval and early post-medieval periods (up to c1700). This includes production and building materials, as well as vessels of an infinite variety of forms (as demonstrated by the MPRG Guide to the Classification of Medieval Pottery Forms). All contributions will be considered on their own merits, and main articles will be subject to peer review. If, however, you have a smaller contribution to make, you might like to consider submitting it for inclusion in Compendiario. This provides an ideal forum for the exchange of ideas and information on individual items and groups of interest, or for the publication of interim notes and even offers the opportunity to draw attention to unusual pots which may be difficult to identify and parallel. The editors welcome all contributions, although they reserve the right to direct authors elsewhere when appropriate.

Please direct all texts for and correspondence regarding volume 23 to Jacqui Pearce, Hon Editor Medieval Ceramics, c/o Museum of London Specialist Services, 46 Eagle Wharf Road, London N1 7EE, tel 020 7566 9325

Meetings and Conferences

Current Approaches to Medieval Archaeology

Department of Archaeology, University of Durham, 15th-16th April 2000.

There is a call for abstracts for papers based on current research on the following themes: Archaeology and History; Scientific methods and applications in Medieval Archaeology; Architecture; The Construction of Identity; Landscape and Settlement; Artefact Studies. Offers are also invited from anyone wishing to organise a session on any other topic. Please send paper abstracts and session proposals to: Current Approaches to Medieval Archaeology, Department of Archaeology, University of Durham, The Science Site, South Road, Durham, DH1 3LE, email, web Deadline end Jan 2000.

British Archaeological Association Meetings 2000

2nd Feb. ‘Auxerre, Dijon and Clamecy: gothic architecture in Burgundy’ by Dr Alexandra Kennedy.

1 March. ‘Salisbury Cathedral West Front: recent recording and research’ by Jerry Sampson, Tim Ayers and Eddie Sinclair.

5 April. ‘Early Christian Archaeology in Europe: some recent research directions’, by Michael J Jones.

3 May. ‘English Historical Brickwork since Nathaniel Lloyd’ by Terence Paul Smith, followed by President’s Reception.

Meetings held at the Society of Antiquaries of London, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1V 0HS, with tea from 4.30pm, and lecture from 5.00pm. Non-members are welcome, but should sign the visitors’ book.

Pottery illustration: information wanted

In November 1992, a joint meeting was held of the Association of Archaeological Illustrators and Surveyors and the Prehistoric Ceramics Research Group at the Institute of Archaeology in London (the papers from this conference are published as AAI&S Technical Paper No. 13, Aspects of Illustration: Prehistoric Pottery).

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the illustration of prehistoric pottery and the possible failings of current methods, as well as discussing ideas about possible drawing styles and conventions used to present this information.

I am currently studying my third and final year BA in Archaeological Illustration at Swindon College, and my final project concerns the illustration of ceramics for publication, the investigation of new methods of ceramic illustration and trying variations on the current established methods.

While the 1992 meeting focused on prehistoric pottery, I am looking at an entire range of ceramic illustration (prehistoric through to mid-medieval) and how the work of the archaeological illustrator can aid the specialist and the researcher by focusing on their particular needs and what they can use from the page of illustrated pottery. This, along with the ever-widening range of new media available to the illustrator and the archaeologist, means the restrictions in recording and printing material are much smaller (and cheaper too). This means that more attention could be paid to the details that academic drawing of pottery sometimes cannot show clearly (use residue, sooting, environmental effects) as well as manufacturing techniques.

Although photography can never replace measured academic drawing, digital photography could be used to show fabric composition or be used to produce ‘realistic’ reconstructions of incomplete vessels, as well as to pay attention to staining or marking within the fabric of the pot.

I stress this is not change for change’s sake but a real attempt to approach this subject from a more ‘graphic’ angle and to complement not replace the traditional methods. I need to contact specialists, Finds Officers, and researchers across the various fields in archaeology to discuss their own particular needs and if they feel the current systems fail or indeed succeed in certain areas. I would be grateful for any correspondence with your views or simply to show interest in the project, and I would like to send out examples of my work as it progresses along with a simple questionnaire/reply form to provide any comments on it.

If you can help, please contact me, Peter Lorimer, at 50 Graham Street, Swindon, Wiltshire, SN1 2HA, tel 01793 611368.

New Books

• John Dwight’s Fulham Pottery: Excavations 1971-79
Chris Green, 1999. English Heritage Archaeological Report 6. ISBN 1850745994. 380 pages. £25.

Excavation of a pottery first established in the 1670s, and producing stoneware in the early years. The report concentrates on this early period, although later wares are also covered, and illustrates the wide range of vessels produced at this important factory.

‘Old and New Worlds. Historical/Post-Medieval Archaeology Papers from the Societies’ joint conferences at Williamsburg and London 1997
Geoff Egan and Ronn Michael (eds), 1999. Oxbow Books. 408 pages. ISBN 1900188929. £40.

This compilation of papers presented at the 30th anniversary conference of the Society for Historical Archaeology and the Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology is divided into five main sections: Approaches to the evidence; Communities of the Old and New Worlds; Bridge and Divisions: crossing the seas and military operations; Manufactured Goods: production, movement and consumption; Humans, animals, plants and landscapes. ‘Manufactured Goods’ is the section most relevant to MPRG members, and contains papers on British pottery of the 15th-19th centuries.

• Die römischen und mittelalterlichen Töpfereien in Mayen, Kreis Mayen-Koblenz.
Mark Redknap, 1999. Berichte zur Archäeologie an Mittelrhein und Mosel vol. 6, Rheinisches Landesmuseum Trier. ISBN 3-923319-41-X. 400 pages. Price 135DM.

A corpus on the Roman and medieval pottery industry at Mayen in the German Eifel, launched by the Oberbürgermeister of Mayen at Genovevaburg Castle on 5th October 1999, as part of the seventh Mayen ‘Buch und Kulturwoche’.

Mayen is remarkable for the continuity of pottery production evident there for over a millennium. The wares were widely distributed during the late Roman and Carolingian periods, reaching England, The Netherlands and Scandinavia. They are easily identified by their volcanic suite of inclusions, and form an important indicator of economic activity between the 4th and 14th centuries.

The volume (entirely in German except for a four-page English summary) includes information on kilns as well as full descriptions of fabrics, forms and dating from the Roman to the medieval periods in Mayen, and short papers on neutron activation analysis of Mayen and Tating Ware, and medieval pottery from Urbar.

The book is available from the publisher: Landesamt für Denkmalpflege, Abteilung Archäologische Denkmalpflege, Amt Koblenz, Festung Ehrenbreitstein, 56077 Koblenz, Tel. 02 61 73626, Fax 02 61 703360.

Mark Redknap is interested in any information on the occurrence of Roman and medieval Mayen ware, and record forms can be obtained from him at Dept of Archaeology and Numismatics, National Museum & Gallery, Cathys Park, Cardiff, CF1 3NP, Wales.

• Looking for something to spend those Christmas book tokens on? Oxbow Books are currently offering several books at reduced prices, including Old and New Worlds (see above) for £20 (SPMA members), Maiolica in the North for £22.50 (normally £25), John Dwight’s Fulham Pottery (see above) for £20, and Cities in Sherds 1 & 2: finds from cesspits in Deventer, Dordrecht, Nijmegen and Tiel (1250-1900) by Michiel Bartels for £54 (normally £60). Contact them at Park End Place, Oxford, OX1 1HN, tel 01865 241249, fax 01865 794449, email

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