The pottery profile recorded for each of the surveyed sites contains many different fine and coarse ware forms and a variety of fabrics from a wide range of production centres. During the analysis of the pottery the total number of sherds and the different types of fabric, the form, decoration and any other diagnostic information were noted. All the pottery was weighed and the recording of sherd size and wear patterns were also experimented with and analysed. However it was clear that the evidence derived from size and wear patterns although useful for judging the integrity of the subterranean stratigraphy of a site didn't really add significantly to the main research issues for each settlement concerned with dating and temporal shift of occupation foci distributions. This is not to say that such detailed investigative approaches aren’t useful particularly for interpreting depositional issues and rates of erosion on Romano-British sites in the survey area.
Diagnostic Romano-British Pottery Fabrics (see tables of POTTERY FABRICS BY TYPE)
The fabric codes employed in analysing the field walking assemblages retrieved during this survey are entirely compatible with the fabric 'type' series compiled for Northamptonshire by J.R.Perrin, E.MacRobert and P.Aird (Northamptonshire Archaeology Unit and English Heritage Central Archaeology Service). This series was developed mainly for the processing of pottery from sites in Northamptonshire like the major excavation of the Roman Small Town at Ashton, near Oundle, the Raunds Landscape Survey Project and the Stanwick Roman Villa and settlement excavation. The reason for utilising this ceramic framework is to guarantee compatibility between the project's data and other major regional data sets. This ensures a consistent approach to sherd identification, chronological outline and site assemblage related profiles which allows for accessible comparative interrogation of the different project findings.
The system involves dividing the fabrics into four main categories, each of which is then subdivisions into recognised wares as required. The four generic categories are:
A : Grogged Tempered wares
(Contains inclusions of crushed low-fired clay)
B : Calcite Shell-gritted Tempered wares
(Contains calcite inclusions of crushed shell derived from limestone)
C : Reduced (grey) wares
(Pottery produced in a low-oxygen atmosphere resulting in a grey or black colour fabric)
D: Oxidised (cream/white/orange/red) wares
(Pottery produced in a high-oxygen atmosphere resulting in white, buff, orange or red coloured fabric)
The subdivisions or wares shown in the fabrics table relate to a known source, a variety of inclusion, surface treatment, texture or colour.
The fabric types identified in the table are a list of all the wares identified during the fieldwalking survey. However it should be noted that the list does not represent the entire Northamptonshire type series.
Romano-British Pottery Chronology (see tables of POTTERY FABRIC TYPES BY DATE)
The date ranges ascribed to the pottery distributions are derived mainly from the county fabric series. However to make the date span of certain wares more accurate for the survey area some ranges have been adjusted to reflect the chronological profiles indicated in excavation reports of Romano-British sites in the immediate vicinity of the survey area.
The nature of the pottery assemblages recovered from fieldwalking and the lack of sherds whose forms can be easily identified and whose fabric are well researched makes it extremely difficult to give very precise dates both for particular areas of a settlement and for individual features subsequently identified during geophysical survey. Unfortunately the relationship between material recovered from the plough soil and artifactual residues present in undisturbed archaeological contexts is not easily explained or understood. Therefore the sherds must be regarded as residual and their potential date must reflect the full period of use and availability of the different fabrics.
However it is possible to divide the fieldwalking assemblages into three main chronological phases representing the broad divisions of early, middle and late Roman periods. Although each phase covers a significant amount of years these time frames do allow a degree of site interpretation upon which issues of general settlement chronology, classification, development and temporal shifts can be explored and applied to individual sites or settlements across a regional landscape.
- PHASE 1: The earliest phase covers the invasion, conquest and initial period of Romanisation from the mid 1st century AD until the mid 2nd century AD. It is typified by the manufacture of hand made and wheel thrown locally produced/marketed wares and the availability of some luxury fine ware imports.
In addition, the range of 'grogged' fabrics enable this early phase to be further sub-divided into two distinct epochs:
PHASE 1a: the conquest era under the Julio/Claudian and early Flavian emperors;
PHASE 1b: the beginnings of Romanisation from the late Flavian period on into the reigns of Trajan and Hadrian.
The pottery assemblages allow the possibility of exploring issues of continuity from the late Iron Age into the Roman period and to identify the developing nature of settlement during this transitional phase.
- PHASE 2: The middle Roman phase focuses on the considerable change and development of Roman Britain into a flourishing Romanised province during the Hadrianic, Antonine and Severan phases from the early middle 2nd century AD to the 3rd century AD. This period was reflected in the rise of mass produced wheel thrown regional pottery fabrics and the increase in luxury imported tableware and specialist vessels from the wider empire.
- PHASE 3: The late Roman period covers the years of major social and economic change of the late 3rd and 4th centuries AD. A period which was characterised by the expansion of major industries trading larger quantities of fine and coarse ware pottery over significant areas of Roman Britain at the expense of locally manufactured products.
The ability to diagnostically date at least 65% of all the sherds recovered from fieldwalking establishes a reliable quantitative statistical bases for viewing distribution patterns across settlements. It is possible to identify focal points of activity that can be associated with the major chronological phases of occupational activity and to chart with increasing confidence the story of Roman settlement in the survey area.