No. 41 – December 2001

Secretary’s Notes

Council met last on 18th October at the Museum of London, discussing editorial matters, forthcoming conferences and other topics.

The Editorial Committee reported that Volume 24 of Medieval Ceramics should be out in time for the spring 2002 meeting (see below). Volume 25 will be relatively short, in order to speed up editing process and to get the volume out in time for the Dublin conference in September 2002. The Minimum Standards document (Occasional Paper No. 2) is now out, and is selling steadily (copies are available through MoLSS – details of how to order have already appeared in the Newsletter and are available on the website).

Council discussed the new government initiative which has been launched on the current state of archaeology in the UK (APPAG – All Party Parliamentary Group). Submissions by individuals and by groups have been sought by APPAG, and it was agreed that the Group should not miss this opportunity to express their views. The President has subsequently drafted our submission.

Many thanks to all members who have responded to Alejandra Gutierrez’s questionnaire on ceramics teaching and research – Alejandra is now pressing ahead with circulating to higher education institutions information about members who have expressed an interest in undertaking ceramics-based teaching. Preparations for our conference in Dublin in September (2nd-4th) are well on course, and details of programme and booking forms will be circulated to members soon. Meanwhile, we are organising a one-day meeting in London in the spring, at which the AGM will be held – advance publicity should accompany this Newsletter. A reminder to those of you who do not currently pay by standing order that subscriptions will be due again at the beginning of February – the usual form is enclosed with this Newsletter.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for 24th January; if you have any comments or wish to raise any issues please contact me before then. Finally, a reminder that at the 2002 AGM, our Treasurer (Bob Will), Assistant Secretary (Sue Anderson) and an Ordinary Member (Alejandra Gutierrez) will be retiring. If you feel yourself able and willing to fill one of these posts, or know of someone else who might, please contact me.

Lorraine Mepham, Secretary

New Council Members

The Council needs three new members from the next AGM, as noted above. If you are interested, you are welcome to contact the officers who are standing down to find out more about the responsibilities of the posts. All three involve attending three meetings a year, usually in London. I can only comment on the Assistant Secretary post, but I have enjoyed my five years very much. The post has consisted of producing three newsletters a year and some occas-ional admin. Please contact me if you are interested.

Sue Anderson

One-day Meeting, London

Council has decided to hold a one day meeting/conference in London on Saturday May 18th 2002 at the London Archaeological Archive Research Centre (LAARC), Mortimer Wheeler House, 46 Eagle Wharf Road, London, N1 7ED. The reasons are twofold. Firstly, some members may feel that two consecutive ‘long-distance’ conferences (Edinburgh last year and Dublin this year) are too much and secondly there is the need to hold an AGM. For one reason or another, the AGM’s of the past two years have been rushed affairs and Council members thought holding one in May was necessary to allow for proper discussion of the Groups affairs.

The provisional working title is ‘Late medieval/post-medieval English slipwares’ but the day will be designed as a leisurely affair, with a few speakers and ample discussion time but will additionally include a tour of the recently-opened LAARC and facilities. The AGM and meetings agenda will be in place for the April newsletter, in the meantime any queries should be forwarded to the organisers, Nigel Jeffries or Lucy Whittingham on 0207 566 9312.

Nigel Jeffries

Regional Groups


27th April, West Stow, Suffolk

The next SEMPER meeting will, with any luck, be held at West Stow on Saturday 27th April. The theme will be Anglo-Saxon pottery in the region (Early through to Late Saxon). There will be time to visit the Anglo-Saxon village and the new museum.

SEMPER members will receive a mailing nearer the time. For further details about the group and its activities, contact Anna Slowikowski, tel 01234 270009.

Meetings and Conferences

Society for Medieval Archaeology: Town and Country 1100-1500

12th-14th April 2002, York

Organised by the Society for Medieval Archaeology, to be held at the University of York. Themes include: inhabiting the medieval town and countryside; producing and consuming in town and country; urban landscapes: landscape archaeology and towns; powers, beliefs and mentalities. Contact Kate Giles, Dept of Archaeology, University of York, King’s Manor, York YO1 7EP.

Medieval Europe 2002

10th-15th September, Basel, Switzerland

The theme of next year’s conference is ‘Centre – Region – Periphery’. There are eight themes, which are as follows:

  • Cultural regions, economic areas
  • Innovation, communication, interaction
  • Sovereignty and territory
  • Structure and topography of the ruling powerIdentity and demarcation
  • Settlement in inhospitable regions
  • The Regio TriRhena
  • New studies of medieval and later archaeology in Europe (poster session)

The detailed programme and the (final) registration forms will be sent out in Autumn 2001 to all who have enrolled by 1st October 2001 via e-mail, fax or post. Contact Medieval Europe Basel 2002, c/o Archaeologische Bodenforschung, Petersgraben 11, PO Box CH-4001 Basel, Switzerland. Fax +41-61-267 23 76, web


MA in Material Culture: European Society 1350-1750

Launched last September, this MA programme – one of the first of its kind – is concerned with the nature and role of the material world in late medieval and early modern society. The degree was the idea of Dr David Gaimster, a curator in the Department of Medieval and Modern Europe in the British Museum and for many years Secretary of the Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology. Dr Gaimster will be seconded to Royal Holloway’s History Department from January to April 2002 on a Research Exchanges award from the national Arts and Humanities Research Board in order to complete his important project on The Baltic Ceramic Market c1200-1600: Hanseatic Trade and Cultural Exchange.

His idea was taken up enthusiastically by the medieval archaeologist Dr Hugo Blake and the early modern historian Dr Sandra Cavallo, both of Royal Holloway’s History Department, who appreciated the potential to develop an interactive understanding of museum collections, archaeological contexts, and the written sources to explore the historical significance of material culture in pre-industrial western Europe. As well as these three co-directors, who constitute the degree programme team, teaching will be provided by other Royal Holloway historians and by Museum of London staff. Together they have a range of expertise to provide a novel and stimulating MA programme.

Cultural historians have for some time been concerned with the fundamental transformations which may have occurred over this period. These include a shift from collective to individual values and away from traditional ideas of status, increasing commodification and consumption, the emergence of manners and of notions of privacy and intimacy, growing social segregation, and new ideals of family and gender relationships. These debated topics are manifested materially and reflected in different spatial arrangements; but research rarely takes account of both the written and physical evidence.

The novelty of the MA lies in the combination of History and Archaeology. The core course in Historical Methodology (taught by Dr Sandra Cavallo and Professor Lyndal Roper) introduces Historical explanation and Themes important to Renaissance and Early Modern historians. That in Material Culture (taught by Dr Hugo Blake and Dr David Gaimster) concerns the sources, materials and techniques of artifacts, and their interpretation in terms of everyday life and as historical sources. Students take a Skills course in Archaeology, Museology (both taught by and in the Museum of London), and/or in Palaeography. As well two options are chosen from Archaeology of Medieval London (Dr John Schofield), The Material Culture of Domestic Life: European Households 1400-1800 (Dr Sandra Cavallo), The Court in England and Europe 1350-1450 (Professor Nigel Saul), The Court in England and Europe 1450-1603 (Dr Pauline Croft), The Material Culture of Renaissance Italy 1350-1550 (Dr Hugo Blake), and The Italian Book 1465-1600 (Dr Jane Everson). The final element in the degree is the dissertation, an original piece of work based upon individual research in Material Culture, making use of both written and physical evidence. Students may opt for a one day a week internship in the British Museum or the Museum of London.

The programme – which is taught in central London – will provide training for proceeding to research degrees in this field, the intellectual basis for working in the museum world and the heritage industry, and continuing professional development. It is designed to allow different pathways to cater for a variety of backgrounds. It can be taken either full- or part-time. The entry requirement is normally a good honours degree or equivalent in History, Archaeology or a related subject. However, we welcome applications from those with honours degrees in other subjects or appropriate professional qualifications or experience.For further information look at the website or contact Dr Hugo Blake.

For Application Forms and Prospectus: Postgraduate Secretary, Department of History, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey TW20 0EX.

Pottery samples wanted

Over the last few years I have been working with the medieval pottery found in Iceland. Since there was never a native production of pottery, everything had to be imported. As research has shown, most of the pottery originates in Germany (Rhenish and lower Saxony stoneware) and England. My work is quite difficult, since we have very little comparative material here in Iceland. So I was wondering whether MPRG members could help.

It would be extremely helpful to build up some kind of reference collection from England, the Netherlands and France in order to identify sherds we find here. Maybe it is possible that somebody has some spare sherds of for example Grimston Ware, Scarborough Ware, Yorkshire Ware or whatever and is willing to send it to Iceland? I would be rather happy about every single sherd! Thank you very much.

Natascha Mehler, Fornleifastofnun Íslands / Institute of Archaeology, Bárugata 3, 101 Reykjavík – Iceland, tel +354 551 1033, fax +354 551 1047, web

Relief tile

This tile was found in an ongoing excavation on the site of Sheffield Castle (under the present day Castle Markets). Unfortunately it comes from a 1640s demolition context.

The tile is stamped but not inlaid and has a stylized interlace or fretty design. It has seen considerable abrasion and the green glaze only survives in the depressions. The only other interlace or fretty design tiles I have been able to find seem to be 14th century in date but I would be very grateful if anyone more knowledgeable might be able to comment.

Hugh Willmott

New Publication

Faïenceries françaises du Grand-Est, Bourgogne. Champagne-Ardenne (XIV-XIX siècle)

Jean Rosen. CTHS, 2001.

A regional study of faience and porcelain manufacture and use in Bourgogne and Champagne-Ardenne from the 14th to the 19th centuries. Covers 114 manufacturers, with 500 illustrations in colour.

Price: 60 euros + 3 euros postage and packing.

Order copies from: CTHS, 1 rue Descartes, 75231 Paris Cedex 05

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