We now have pottery experts too!

Post Reply
User avatar
Oxgirl
Posts: 11953
Joined: Thu Jul 09, 2020 4:21 pm
Location: Oxfordshire
Has thanked: 8875 times
Been thanked: 10207 times

We have been inspired by Littleboot’s excellent suggestion (thank you Jan :Luv Ya: ) that we should have guest spots for more experts in different areas to add to our already excellent experts in coins, Roman things and other artefacts. Rather than a guest spot though we have instead managed to entice experts to join us more generally.

In addition to David on lead/leaden tokens we are delighted to welcome Pottery Man as another new identifications expert to our forum :D

I’ll let Pottery Man introduce himself when he’s ready, but I can say I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him in person a couple of times and his passion and knowledge of pottery is impressive. However as pottery is such a big area I believe he’s managed to talk some other pottery experts into forming a team with him to identify your pottery and educate us more on how to ID our own pieces - well some of them anyway!

So get your pottery out and get it in the pottery section. Please remember, with pottery, knowing where it was found, some idea of scale and a close up of the inclusions in the clay, with whatever other info you can add will really help as so much pottery looks similar across large timescales. I know I have Roman grey ware and local post medieval plain grey shards that look, at first glance, very similar but are obviously different when you examine them more closely :geek:

So go potty (sorry :oops: :rollinglaughing: )
Yes I really don’t like Roman coins, I’m not joking
stanslad
Posts: 426
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2020 11:21 am
Location: North Oxfordshire
Has thanked: 517 times
Been thanked: 724 times

This sounds good Cath, I do like to pick up the odd bit of pot sometimes!
Thank you Cath & pottery experts.
Clint :thumbsup:
User avatar
shaggybfc
Posts: 2555
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2020 8:46 pm
Location: Warwick
Has thanked: 2060 times
Been thanked: 2378 times

I have bags of pottery ready and waiting :thumbsup:
Always carefully proof-read what you've typed to see if you've any words out.
Deus with 11" X35 and 9" HF coils. MI 6 pinpointer.
User avatar
figgis
Posts: 6776
Joined: Thu Jul 09, 2020 6:21 pm
Location: Norfolk (just)
Has thanked: 3910 times
Been thanked: 4539 times

The "villa" site has been roughly pinpointed.

The rains have washed the surface clean and the sherds have never been more visible.

I can't resist picking even the smallest fragment up.

Stand by...

:D ;)
Pottery Man
Posts: 21
Joined: Fri Oct 16, 2020 10:05 pm
Has thanked: 8 times
Been thanked: 44 times

Well, here we go! I know a lot about pottery from historic and technical point of view. More to the point as Oxgirl noted, for all the right reasons (I hope) I know a little about all sorts of pottery and much more about the few areas I have been lucky enough to study in depth.
I just took a shufty at some of those loose and seemingly unrelated sherds in the first few photos I looked at......

Things we need to sort out in our heads are a rough idea of where these came from (was it Essex/Herts/Cambs?) and what do we 'expect' from a given area.
The easy stuff is a description and in this period in history....... there is Roman in there! It looks like some iron-age coarseware and the rather rural grey-wares present throughout the Roman occupation (roughly 500 years) Long time and seemingly little technical progress.... it is said that the Romans organised things and the potters may have been directed, but despite a 500 year habit, they failed the QC checks once the Latins had marched away.
What am I saying? The coarsewares before the Roman occupation often look remarkably similar to the pottery produced after the legions departed. In between, the potters used good 'fast-wheels' ....a very similar affair to the wheels of later Medieval ones. Described as a fast wheel because it had a heavy flywheel and kept going for possibly twenty revolutions whereas a 'slow wheel' was virtually a round stone that had no momentum, just the ability to move in a controlled circle.

So, Iron Age clays are next to look at: think smooth sticky clay that has been rolled in gritty stuff to make it less sticky and less sensitive to naked flames after it has been formed into a shape. No metal saucepans for another 1500 years..... All your cooking was done at the side of the fire or in ovens made of very crunchy rough clay - fireclay - able to deal with that fire, but too rough and porous to put food or liquid in, for cooking.
So the clever potters used 'openers' or grit or what potters call grog to manage the thermal shock of heat. Openers are the chopped straw or dried baked grain and crushed charcoal added to the sticky clay that intentionally burned away, but they are less satisfactory than adding crushed seashell or ground up limestone or quartz. You might expect the more common sands and indeed burned crushed stone from riverside washes. They were all used in different places and had periods of almost fashion or favour.

Look at the broken edges of your Iron Age or Saxon Medieval pottery and you will see the white grits that we need for identification. Will it be shelly ware or calcite (limestone) or just an assorted grit?

Lastly, you need to know a bit about bonfires!

A good bright bonfire with a lovely hot heap of white charcoal and singed edges will have no smoke. Smoke is steam and carbon and lots of complex biological or organic hydrocarbon stuff usually capable of oxidising and burning clear once it gets hot enough in plenty of fresh air. However, in the early stages of a bonfire, things are very smoky and oxygen is in short supply. It can indeed blacken and tarnish items for burning until the heat rises and enables the charring and ideally, burning (oxidising) the carbonaceous stuff away to leave those white fragile wood-ashes. Interestingly you can cover a very hot heap of ashes and the heat is enough to chemically draw out the oxygen from some materials such that they reduce the amount of oxygen in any metal oxides and cause a colour change. We call that 'reducing'.

A good example is iron oxide in clay. 99% of the worlds natural alluvial (riverside) clay has iron in it. In a bright oxidising flame those clays are orange/red when baked. However in a smoky or enclosed kiln flame without enough free air, the pots will go from orange to grey or even to black with the right technique. Sometimes it is aided by trapped carbon in the clay in low-fired pottery with organic additives.

So if you see grey or black fired clay, it has been reduced. If it is then partially reoxidised to look like liquorice allsorts it may be orange inside and out but with a grey core layer.

I'll post this for pondering and come back to look at your shrapnel on the next posting.
Steve RC
Posts: 323
Joined: Tue Jul 28, 2020 3:20 pm
Location: Cambridgeshire
Has thanked: 606 times
Been thanked: 418 times

Good to have your expertise to tap into.
stanslad
Posts: 426
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2020 11:21 am
Location: North Oxfordshire
Has thanked: 517 times
Been thanked: 724 times

Here's a few bits from the cabinet, the bottom 5 pieces of the 10 feel rough & have the grit bits in, all from the same few fields near Bicester north Oxfordshire over the years.
Clint :thumbsup:
Attachments
IMG_20201022_134408.jpg
IMG_20201022_133503.jpg
IMG_20201022_133543.jpg
IMG_20201022_133831.jpg
User avatar
figgis
Posts: 6776
Joined: Thu Jul 09, 2020 6:21 pm
Location: Norfolk (just)
Has thanked: 3910 times
Been thanked: 4539 times

Thanks so much for your explanitory post above, PM :thumbsup: Fascinating stuff and very generous of you to share your knowledge with us.
User avatar
Emily
Posts: 451
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2020 3:30 pm
Has thanked: 304 times
Been thanked: 361 times

stanslad wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 7:00 pm Here's a few bits from the cabinet, the bottom 5 pieces of the 10 feel rough & have the grit bits in, all from the same few fields near Bicester north Oxfordshire over the years.
Clint :thumbsup:
That’s a very impressive cabinet you have there Clint!!
Live long and prospect
stanslad
Posts: 426
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2020 11:21 am
Location: North Oxfordshire
Has thanked: 517 times
Been thanked: 724 times

Emily wrote: Sat Oct 24, 2020 3:08 pm That’s a very impressive cabinet you have there Clint!!
Thanks Emily
I need another cabinet now, or just need to stop picking pottery up,
The fields down by you were flooded well the other week, the new owner of the mill a few miles down river shut the sluice overflow gate to much so her garden didn't flood, but it backed up & flooded 6 of the farmers fields instead & as you know closed the road, farmer wasn't a happy bunny!
I'm working there in a week or two & will suss out some detecting for us.
Clint :thumbsup:
User avatar
Emily
Posts: 451
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2020 3:30 pm
Has thanked: 304 times
Been thanked: 361 times

stanslad wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 7:40 pm Thanks Emily
I need another cabinet now, or just need to stop picking pottery up,
The fields down by you were flooded well the other week, the new owner of the mill a few miles down river shut the sluice overflow gate to much so her garden didn't flood, but it backed up & flooded 6 of the farmers fields instead & as you know closed the road, farmer wasn't a happy bunny!
I'm working there in a week or two & will suss out some detecting for us.
Clint :thumbsup:
No, don’t stop collecting it!! As did a new cabinet for Christmas. 🎅 I really love the pipe bowls!! I’ve never seen or found one. Did you find them all locally??

I know, it was quite amazing to look at. Haha. Turned into a bird sanctuary for a few days. In which direction was the mill?? Towards Deddington??

Yes please!! That’d be great. ☺️
Live long and prospect
Fisher 1266 X
Posts: 89
Joined: Sun Jul 26, 2020 2:25 pm
Has thanked: 140 times
Been thanked: 132 times

stanslad wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 7:00 pm Here's a few bits from the cabinet, the bottom 5 pieces of the 10 feel rough & have the grit bits in, all from the same few fields near Bicester north Oxfordshire over the years.
Clint :thumbsup:
A couple of lovely Medieval floor tiles there Stan....... promising site!
Post Reply