Pottery manufacture and distribution in Roman Britain

The technology of ceramic production was thoroughly understood and highly developed in the Roman period. Standardised shapes could be produced, quickly and in large numbers.

Pottery was made wherever suitable clay was available, and was used in large quantities. Broken pots were thrown away, also in large quantities, but the sherds that survive in the ground provide rich material for archaeological analysis. The evolution of a huge variety of vessel forms and surface treatments can be classified and dated, and the range of clays used can be identified by scientific analysis. This enables researchers to reconstruct a detailed picture of manufacture, supply, use and chronology.

Distribution patterns of pottery types reveal that while much ordinary household earthenware was of local manufacture, certain types of pottery were traded over wide areas - not merely within a given province, but across provincial boundaries.

Related galleries