No. 50 – December 2004

Secretary’s Notes

The Group’s Council meeting was held on the 12th October at the Society of Antiquaries in London. A good attendance was increased further by two co-opted members: Jenny Vaughan and David Dawson, in order to increase the number of regions represented by the current council.

A decision on a fitting memorial to John Hurst was made during the meeting. It was decided that a travel fund, to assist scholars in visiting ceramic collections, should be set up in his memory. It is hoped that MPRG members will want to contribute to the fund, both now and in the future and build on a small ‘nest egg’ that MPRG already holds. A letter with more details about the fund is enclosed with this newsletter.

The Society for Historical Archaeology will be held outside North America for the first time (January 5–10, 2005) at York. This will be an opportunity for those interested in Historical Archaeology (from the 15th century to the present day) to meet. MPRG has agreed to take a stand to promote the Group’s activities and publications.

Positive news from the EAA session was relayed by the President: the MPRG has been asked to become an associate member of ARTeFACT (the reference collections project). The concept of the creation of a European database and online resource of medieval and post-medieval pottery production centres received much support in Lyons. Council decided to collaborate with an academic institute and nominate a small steering group to drive the project forward. Potential candidates for the steering group are currently being approached.

The issue of a joint minimum standards document with Prehistoric Ceramics Research Group (PCRG) and Study Group for Roman Pottery (SGRP) was also raised. Initial inroads into creating a joint document had previously stalled; it was decided the project still had merit, but that the scope and extent of any resulting publication may involve more parties than originally thought. Consultations with those who may be interested in the project are currently taking place, with the Institute of Field Archaeologists (IFA) finds group being used to canvass opinion on the matter.

The Editorial Committee has secured a significant proportion of the funding required for the next Medieval Ceramics. A subsequent volume has been set aside for papers from the Winchester Conference. It was also suggested that (as aired during this year’s conference), an updated bibliography of John Hurst’s publications would be a fitting addition to the next volume of Medieval Ceramics. Equally important is the continuity of the online bibliography. The Editorial Committee and Nigel Jeffries are to examine the extent of the task ahead, as a full appreciation of just what is involved was felt to be necessary.

The meetings secretary reported that the venue for the 2005 conference has changed, and will now be held at the Museum on London. The date for the conference is June 18th 2005. The Membership Secretary and Treasurer reported that the letters sent out with the last newsletter, to members still paying the old rate and to those whose membership has lapsed, had met with some success. However, there are still some members who have not responded.

The next council meeting is to be held in the Maiolica Room at the British Museum on Thursday, 27th January 2005. Any comments or issues to be raised at that meeting should be directed to me before then for inclusion on the agenda.

Anne Boyle, Secretary

Database of European Production Centres

Report on first round table of the working party on the creation of a database of medieval and post-medieval pottery production centres in Europe EAA Lyons 11/9/04

Following the inaugural meeting of this group at the EAA conference in St Petersburg in September 2003 the first round table was held on the afternoon of 11th September 2004. This meeting was chaired by Maureen Mellor, President of the Medieval Pottery Research Group, and attended by delegates from 10 European countries. Following three short presentations on the evidence for production centres in Northern France, Hungary and the UK given by Phillipe Husi, Zsolt Vagner and Derek Hall discussion focused on the aims of the project and the proposed structure of the database. It is initially intended that the English Heritage funded National Database of Medieval Pottery Production Centres in England is used as a model for the form and construction of a European one with necessary additions and subtractions depending on the level of evidence available in each country. It was also agreed that it would be very important to produce a web-based version of the database that would allow the dissemination of the evidence across Europe to anyone who was interested.

It is intended to seek funding for a 2 or 3 year project that will begin with discussions and workshops about the format of the proposed database, interest in being involved in the first stage have been tabled by delegates from France, Hungary, Belgium, Ireland and the UK (Wales/Scotland/Northern Ireland). A group e-mail has been set up by Derek Hall and this will remain the main point of contact and discussion for the working party. It is intended to hold a second round table at EAA 2005 in Cork, Ireland.

Derek Hall, Secretary

Working Party on the creation of a database of medieval and post-medieval pottery production centres in Europe

See the Current Newsletter for project updates (PDF)

Internet Update

John Hudson has been dragged screaming and shouting into the 21st Century. He now has a website. Hope to see you there sometime.

Dr Chris Cumberpatch, English Heritage and the ADS/AHDS Archaeology are pleased to announce the launch of the South Yorkshire/North Derbyshire Medieval Ceramics Reference Collection.

The project as a whole consists of a number of elements: an on-line database; a physical reference collection curated by Weston Park Museum; and a series of articles describing specific potteries and their products, published in print or on-line. The on-line database, available at the url above, consists of descriptive information, including photographs covering medieval and post-medieval pottery from the county of South Yorkshire and the northern part of Derbyshire from a line drawn approximately between Stone, Uttoxeter and Derby, northward.

The collection is one of the results of the review of medieval pottery studies in England undertaken by Maureen Mellor on behalf of the Medieval Pottery Research Group and English Heritage in the early 1990s (Mellor 1994). The project was funded by English Heritage, managed by Archaeological Services (WYAS) and undertaken by Dr Chris Cumberpatch, with assistance from Dr D Williams, Dr N Walsh and Dr M Hughes. Assistance was given by museum and archaeological curators across the region, by the Derbyshire Archaeological Society and the Rotherham Archaeological Society and by a number of archaeological units and contractors working in the region.

Regional Group Reports

Scottish Group

Imported pottery layout at Perth Museum
Imported pottery layout at Perth Museum

Perth High Street Excavation

All the imported wares from this excavation were laid out in Perth Museum in late October for viewing by Alan Vince, Duncan Brown, Paul Blinkhorn, Sarah Jennings, Jane Youngs and Alejandra Guttierez. A valuable round table discussion followed with some controversial views being aired about the Englishness of this Scottish assemblage! D Hall and G Haggarty intend laying out the whole assemblage in order to get a better feel for the stratigraphy and sequence of this important group. The question of the recent carbon dating of the shelly wares from this excavation to the 11th century was also addressed and it is being suggested that a group of samples from London ought to be dated in the same way.

Monastic Industrial Sites

A Historic Scotland funded gazetteer of potential monastic industrial sites across Scotland is on the verge of completion by SUAT Ltd. This has concentrated on locating saltpans, tileworks, quarries, coalmines and lead, silver and gold mines. It is hoped that such a study may aid the future location of pottery production sites particularly as there would seem to be a strong chance that Scottish pottery manufacture started with the introduction of the major monastic orders in the 12th century.

Scottish contact e-mail

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