No. 38 – December 2000

Council News

Council met on 24th October at the Museum of London. The main agenda items were editorial matters, and the discussion of proposals for our annual conferences in 2001 and 2002. The Editorial Committee has been working hard to ensure that the next volume of Medieval Ceramics (the joint volume 22/23) will be published by the end of the year. If all goes according to plan you may receive the volume at the same time as this newsletter. The next volume (24) is under way, and it is hoped to get this out in time for the 2001 conference, of which more news below. Work on our other forthcoming publications (Ipswich Ware, Trondheim Redwares and Minimum Standards) is also moving on.

The next two years offer exciting prospects for our annual conference. Proposals and a draft programme were submitted at the meeting for the 2001 conference: this will be in Edinburgh in May. It will be a weekend conference, with one day of papers and one day of pottery viewing. Further details can be found in the enclosed flyer. Clare McCutcheon presented her proposals for a 3-day conference in Dublin in 2002 (probably September), with a suggested venue of Trinity College and the National Museum. The conference will focus not just on pottery but a range of material types, and aims to put Ireland back on the map of European medieval pottery studies. Nothing more has been heard about the proposed conference in Raeren.

The Group has been concerned for some time over the apparent lack of teaching and research in medieval pottery (and indeed in ceramics generally). Alejandra Gutierrez has now bravely volunteered to investigate this matter further, and to this end will be carrying out a survey of university departments, and also preparing a register of expertise from MPRG members, to identify those who might be prepared to teach. This sounds like a very useful first step towards filling that gap, and perhaps encouraging future medieval ceramic specialists.

MPRG now has a permanent web address (; this immediately redirects to the current web site. We have also been in contact with ADS (Archaeology Data Service) in York, regarding the possibility of putting Medieval Ceramics Vols 1–10 on the Internet. ADS have responded encouragingly, but we would need to scan and edit the volumes.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for 25th January; if you have any comments or wish to raise any issues please contact me before then. And finally, a reminder that at the 2001 AGM, our Vice-President (David Barker) and one Ordinary Member (Sara Lunt) will be retiring. If you feel the urge to fill one of these posts, or know someone who might, please contact me.

Lorraine Mepham, Secretary

MPRG Conference 2001

The Millennium Conference of the MPRG will be held at the Edinburgh City Arts Centre on 11th-13th May 2001. The Conference is over three days, but starts late on Friday and finishes early on Sunday to allow for travelling time.

On Friday 11th, there will be a reception at the City Arts Centre from 6pm, followed by George Haggarty’s lecture on the importance of Edinburgh, Leith and the Lothians in the development of the Scottish industrial ceramic industry.

Most of the papers will be given on Saturday 12th, and will cover Historic Scotland and the study of Scottish medieval ceramics, Scottish fabrics and production centres, the Scottish Redware project, shell-tempered wares in Scotland, the Scottish White Gritty project, and medieval Hebridean pottery.

On Sunday 13th, there will be a viewing of the pottery assemblages recovered from recent archaeological excavations in Leith, Edinburgh and other Scottish sites, followed by a discussion of the material with the aim of setting it into its European trade context and economic significance.

See the enclosed flyer for full programme and booking details.

Regional Groups

North-West Group

Saturday 27th January, Giffords, Chester

A meeting of the North West Region MPRG will be held on Saturday 27th January 2001 at the Gifford offices in Chester. If you would like to attend please contact Julie Edwards (see below). Apologies for short notice.

The group is planning two other meetings for 2001. The first will be on Saturday 31st March at the Potteries Museum, Stoke-on-Trent where we will have the opportunity to see recently excavated medieval and early post-medievalpottery from Burslem. A second meeting has been provisionally set for Saturday 6th October at Liverpool Museum and the subject for the day will be Buckley wares.

If you would like to be placed on the group’s mailing list to receive further information about these meetings, please contact Julie Edwards, c/o 27 Grosvenor St, Chester CH1 2DD.


?March, West Stow, Suffolk.

The last SEMPER meeting (September) had to be postponed due to the petrol crisis, so it will now be held in March (date to be confirmed). It will be on the theme of ‘Saxon pottery’ and will be held at West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village. The meeting should follow the same format as previously published (am Early Saxon, pm Middle-Late Saxon, with an opportunity to visit the Saxon village and museum at lunchtime), and SEMPER members will be mailed soon. For further details, contact Sue Anderson or Anna Slowikowski, tel 01234 270009.

Meetings and Conferences

British Archaeological Association Meetings 2000-2001

Society of Antiquaries, London.

Meetings are held in the rooms of the Society of Antiquaries of London, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London from 4.30pm. Non-members are welcome, but should sign the visitors’ book.

  1. 7th Feb. ‘The ins and outs of English Parish Churches: doors and porches in the 12th century’, Dr Carol Davidson Cragoe.
  2. 7th Mar. ‘Letters and Words: a new look at English medieval inscriptions’, Rev Jerome Bertram.
  3. 4th Apr. ‘Medieval Stained Glass: recent and future trends in scholarship’, Prof Richard Marks.
  4. 2nd May. ‘The Arts in Roman Britain’, Dr Martin Henig. Followed by the President’s Reception.

The Archaeology of Reformation (c1480-1580)

15–17th February, BM, London.

A joint conference of the Societies for Medieval and Post-Medieval Archaeology. The following themes will be covered:

  1. 15th Feb. ‘Public Worship and Iconoclasm’, and ‘Private Devotion and Resistance’
  2. 16th Feb. ‘Dissolution Landscapes’, and ‘Corporate Charity and Reformation’.
  3. 17th Feb. ‘Secular Power and Iconography’, and ‘Death, Burial and Commemoration’.

Conference fee £55 (members), £75 (non-members), or £30 per day. For further details, contact Prof Roberta Gilchrist, Dept of Archaeology, University of Reading, Whiteknights, PO Box 218, Reading, RG6 6AA, tel 0118 931 6381.

Viking Period Settlement in Britain and Ireland

4th-7th July, Cardiff University

The biennial conference of the Society for Medieval Archaeology will be held at the Centre for the Study of Medieval Society and Culture, Cardiff University, and the National Museum of Wales.

For further details contact Professor John Hines, Centre for the Study of Medieval Society and Culture, Cardiff University, PO Box 909, Cardiff, Wales, CF1 3XU, see also

Ceramics Courses

A practical guide to Staffordshire (and related) ceramics of the 17th–19th centuries

Two EH-subsidised two-day practical training sessions will be held at The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent, on 5th-6th and 7th-8th March. The courses will focus upon the identification, dating, terminology, and significance of Staffordshire earthenwares and stonewares of the 17th to late 19th centuries. For further information please contact David Barker, The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, ST1 3DE, fax 01782 232500.

A one-day course on medieval and post-medieval pottery, organised by the Society of Museum Archaeologists, will also be held in Stoke, on 27th March. Contact Tim Bridges at Worcester City Museum and Art Gallery, Foregate Street, Worcester, WR1 1DT, tel 01905 25371.

Dayschool: 7000 years of ceramic art

24th February, University of Birmingham

Details from the School of Continuing Studies, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT, tel 0121 414 3413 or 414 5606.

New Annual Ceramics Journal

In July 2001, the Chipstone Foundation of Milwaukee will introduce a new full-colour annual publication that examines the role of historical ceramics in the American context. Ceramics in America is an interdisciplinary journal intended for collectors, historical archaeologists, curators, decorative arts students, social historians, and contemporary studio potters. The first issue reflects this diversity. In addition to heavily-illustrated articles by noted American and British ceramic scholars and a private American collector profile, each issue will contain New Discoveries, Book Reviews, a Checklist of Articles and Books and an Index.

The first issue will include papers by Ivor Noel Hume, Bly Straube, Ann Smart Martin, Ellen Paul Denker, David Barker, Michelle Erickson & Robert Hunter, Jonathan Rickard & Don Carpentier, George L Miller & Robert Hunter, J Garrison & Diana Stradling, and Troy D Chappell.

For further information, see future MPRG Newsletters or contact University Press of New England, 23 South Main Street, Hanover, NH 03755-2055, USA. Tel 00 1 603-643-7100.

New Publications

The Limehouse Porcelain manufactory. Excavations at 108-116 Narrow Street, London, 1990.

Kieron Tyler and Roy Stephenson, MoLAS Monograph 6, published by MoLAS / English Heritage (£16.50).

This publication summarises the archaeological sequence and the history of the pothouse. It includes the only definitive listing of all the pottery forms recovered from the site. Illustrated throughout in colour. Review by Chris Cumberpatch forthcoming in Rescue News.

Post-Roman pottery from excavations in Colchester 1971-85

John Cotter, Colchester Archaeological Trust, Colchester Archaeological Report 7 (£36)

This is, to a large extent, both a typology and a synthesis of medieval and later pottery in north Essex. At over 400 pages long, with over 1,700 pottery illustrations plus maps, diagrams, and photographs, it is undoubtedly the largest publication on post-Roman pottery from Essex, as well as one of the largest urban assemblages to be published from south-east England in recent years. As such, it should prove an invaluable reference work, not just to ceramic researchers in Essex, but also to researchers in East Anglia and south-east England generally, as well as those with wider interests in imported wares or other socio-economic aspects of pottery studies.

The reports deals with nearly 100,000 sherds (2 tonnes) of post-Roman pottery from the excavations in Colchester between 1971 and 1985. To fill gaps in the excavated material, the study also draws on some largely unpublished material in the Colchester Museum.

The sites, methodology and previous work are detailed in the first chapter. This is followed in Chapters 2 to 6 by a typology of English wares, most of which are of local origin. Accounts of local wares of the 11th to early 16th centuries form the core of the work. Particular attention is given to the Middleborough kilns (c1175-1225) and the 13th- to early 16th-century Colchester-type ware industry – the local manifestation of the ‘East Anglian redwares’ tradition which includes a high proportion of vessels with exuberant slip decoration. The production of roof-furniture, particularly louvers, was an important element of the Colchester-type ware industry, and the report includes two of the most complete and highly-decorated louvers published in Britain recent years. The account of the important but poorly-understood Hedingham fine-ware industry is likewise the most comprehensive overview published to date.

English post-medieval wares are treated in no less detail. The latter includes a study of the numerous tin-glazed drug jars (English and imported) recovered from apothecary dumps during the Lion Walk excavations, together with documentary evidence linking these to named families.

The assemblage of Continental imports is arranged in geographical order in Chapters 7 to 13. Foreign imports are particularly common from the late medieval period onwards, and reflect Colchester’s status as a port. The German stonewares alone constitute one of the richest and most diverse collections from south-east England.

Chapter 14 is devoted to the presentation and quantification of 22 stratified groups of pottery, arranged in chronological order.

An overview of the main trends of pottery supply to Colchester through the ages is provided in the concluding chapter, and the significance of the assemblage is considered in terms of its regional, national and international contexts. There are appendices dealing with documentary evidence for local pottery production and neutron activation analysis of Colchester-type and other Essex redwares.The project and its publication were supported by English Heritage.

Colchester Archaeolological Report 7 costs £36 post free (UK mainland only) and is available from the Colchester Archaeological Trust, 12 Lexden Road, Colchester CO3 3NF.

Please contact the Trust if ordering from abroad as there may be additional charges for postage. Cheques should be drawn in sterling on a British-based bank.

Philip Crummy, Colchester Archaeological Trust

La Manufacture de Meillonnas (Ain) 1760-1870. Catalogue typologique des ceramiques.

Jean Rosen, CNRS, Documents d’archéologie en Rhône-Alpes (DARA) no. 19, CDRom MAC or PC format, (180F + 20F postage)

A typological catalogue of 453 faence forms illustrated by 150 colour photos and 258 drawings, and 213 photos of the archaeological setting, with references. The database can be interrogated by form, function, technique, decoration, date, etc.For more information, or to order, contact Service regional de l’archaeologie, DARA, le Grenier d’Abondance, 6 quai Saint-Vincent, 69283 LYON, Cedex 01, France.

Websites and email

As noted in the Secretary’s Notes, MPRG has a new web address, currently pointed at Paul Miles’ site which he has kindly maintained for us for over five years. Paul will be giving up the site due to pressure of work, and the current Assistant Secretary, Sue Anderson, will be taken over responsibility for maintaining the site. A new version will be up and running soon, probably after the next Council meeting in February. Council would like to thank Paul Miles for setting up and maintaining the site on his personal web space. Please remember to change your bookmark/favourites to:

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