Roman Finds Group Meetings
The Roman Finds Group Autumn Conference
Town and Country in Southern Britain
Friday 9th – Saturday 10th September 2016
The 2016 RFG Autumn Meeting is based in Reading and will be a two day conference from the afternoon on Friday 9th September until late afternoon on Saturday 10th September. It will be kindly hosted by the University of Reading’s Archaeology Department and will take place in both the atrium of the Archaeology Building and the Ditchburn Theatre on Whiteknights campus. The RFG would very much like to thank all those involved with arranging this event.
The conference comprises five sessions of papers with eighteen talks covering various aspects of finds from the town and country in southern Britain and is an excellent opportunity to hear about recent finds and research in this region. As well as sessions on Research at Reading, London and Urban and Rural Britain, a quick-fire session entitled ‘Small Finds, Short Papers’ including five ten minute talks will take place. Research posters covering a wide range of topics and an artefacts table with finds from the excavations at Silchester will also be displayed during all tea and coffee breaks. Registration will take place in the Archaeology Building’s atrium, so please confirm your attendance there first before making your way to the Ditchburn Theatre.
We are delighted to announce that the conference’s Keynote Presentation will be given by Nina Crummy and Matt Phelps on Friday the 9th who will discuss their ongoing work on the Colchester Hoard.
Previous RFG meetings in Newcastle and York were oversubscribed so early booking is strongly advised. The cost of the meeting is £40 for fully paid up RFG members, £33 for students, £48 for non-members and a £25 day rate. Attendance applications can be made by filling out the form below and returning it with the required payment to the address stated.
Access to all conference sessions, finds and poster viewings.
Tea, coffee, soft drinks and biscuits as per the conference programme.
Invitation to the conference dinner on Friday 9th.
Lunch is provided for everyone on Saturday 10th.
Finds Viewing/Poster Displays/Book Sales
There will be space in the Archaeology Building’s atrium adjacent to the Ditchburn Theatre for posters, the finds display and discussion during all breaks. There will also be space for the sale of books should anyone wish to do so. If so, please contact the Committee well in advance by email: RFGReading2016@gmail.com.
Getting to the Archaeology Department/Ditchburn Theatre (University of Reading, Whiteknights Campus, RG6 6AX)
Whiteknights campus is a 40 minute walk from Reading train station while a taxi, caught outside the station, will cost roughly £7. From the station, head south towards London Road. Head east along London Road and turn up Redlands Road. At the entrance to the university turn onto Queen’s Drive, keeping Henley Business School on your left, and head towards the library once you enter the quadrangle. Pass the entrance to the library and the Archaeology Department (Building 76) is right ahead. The Ditchburn Theatre can be found in the Physics Department (Building 3) adjacent to the Archaeology Building just across the road.
Buses to campus can be caught outside the train station on the island by the Railair departure lounge. Take the 21 Claret service up to Whiteknights Campus. Single tickets cost £1.90 and a return fare is £3.70.
If approaching by car, leave the M4 at junction 11 and follow the B3270. At Black Boy roundabout turn left onto the A327 and follow this until you reach the junction with Pepper Lane on your right. Unfortunately car parking will not be available on campus on Friday 9th but will be possible in Carpark 8 on Saturday 10th. The carpark is best accessed via Pepper Lane. There is also limited road parking on Pepper Lane itself but as Reading Council are in the process of changing the parking regulations this might be Pay and Display by the time of the conference.
The conference dinner will take place at 18.45 on Friday 9th at Bill’s Restaurant in Reading town centre (RG1 2HX). The venue can seat up to 50 people. Priority will be given to speakers and the remaining seats will be allocated on a first come first serve basis so please let us know as soon as possible if you would like to attend. Please do not send payment for this with the booking form as we will contact those allocated a dinner seat directly.
The restaurant offers a set menu for which the committee has negotiated a price of £20 per person. This will be circulated in due course but meals will be ordered on the night. The price will include some bottles of red and white wine between us. Additional drinks can be purchased at the will of attendees.
Bill’s Restaurant is located at Saint Marys Church House, Chain St, Reading, RG1 2HX. To get there by foot from Whiteknights Campus, proceed down Queen’s Drive to the University entrance, turn right and walk down Redlands Road, turning left onto London Road at the end. Walk along London Road turning right onto London Street at Tesco. Follow London Street to the end (noticing the blue plaque of Huntley and Palmer Biscuits founder Thomas Huntley on a building on the right side of the street). Cross the main road and walk over the bridge keeping the Oracle Shopping Centre and Vue Cinema on your left and Mothercare on your right. After walking through the archway turn left and walk along Minster Street. The church is on your right just past the entrance to John Lewis and Bill’s Restaurant is just behind.
Alternatively, the No. 21 Claret bus to Saint Marys Butts can be caught on Whiteknights Campus from the bus stop on Chancellor’s Way adjacent to Old Whiteknights House or from the stop on Shinfield Road just outside the University’s main entrance. Single tickets to town cost £1.90 and a return fare is £3.70.
Questions and Further Information
Any questions about the meeting can be emailed to the Organising Committee at: RFGReading2016@gmail.com.
We look forward to seeing you.
Victoria Keitel, Matt Fittock, Owen Humphreys, Sara Wilson and Adam Sutton
The Roman Finds Group Autumn Conference Organising Committee
The Roman Finds Group Autumn Conference
Town and Country in Southern Britain
Day One: Friday 9th September
12.30 Registration (with tea and coffee)
Session 1 – Research at the University of Reading
Chair Adam Sutton (PhD Student, University of Reading)
13.10 Hella Eckardt (University of Reading), Writing power and identity: the material culture of literacy
13.40 Tom Brindle (The Roman Rural Settlement Project, University of Reading), Country life: results from the Roman Rural Settlement Project
14.10 Carolina Lima (PhD student, University of Reading), A girl’s best friend: the role of hairpins in defining female identity in Roman London
14.40 John Ford (PhD student, University of Reading), Ringing the changes: the social significance of finger-rings in Roman Britain
15.10 Tea, coffee and biscuits
Session 2 – Finds from Urban Southern Britain
Chair Sara Wilson (PhD student, University of Reading)
15.40 Martin Pitts (University of Exeter), Funerary object-scapes in the Roman West
16.10 Ruth Shaffrey (Oxford Archaeology), Understanding urban flour supply: the contribution of millstones and querns
16.40 Nina Crummy (Freelance Small Finds Specialist/Silchester Town Life Project, University of Reading) and Matt Phelps (Institute of Archaeology, University College London), A hoard of military awards, jewellery and coins from Colchester
17.40 Closing remarks
18.45 Bill’s Restaurant, Saint Marys Church House, Chain St, Reading, RG1 2HX
Day Two: Saturday 10th September
Session 3 – Finds from Roman London
Chair Victoria Keitel (PhD Student, University of Reading)
9.10 Mike Marshall (Museum of London Archaeology), A city of merchants and traders or a city of soldiers? The 1st century AD military equipment from Bloomberg London in context
9.40 Ben Paites (PAS, Essex), Roman city limits: finds from the Thames foreshore at the Tower of London
10.10 Glynn Davis (Colchester and Ipswich Museums), The tears of the Heliades: investigating amber from Roman London
10.40 Tea, coffee and biscuits
Session 4 – Finds from Rural Southern Britain
Chair Matthew Fittock (PhD Student, University of Reading)
11.10 Diana Briscoe (Archive of Roman Pottery Stamps (ARPS)), Stamped pottery in Roman Britain
11.40 Stuart McKie (PhD Student, Open University), Embedded magic: the sensory experience of cursing at the Temple of Sulis Minerva at Bath
12.10 Richard Hobbs (The British Museum), New insights into the Mildenhall treasure
12.40 Sian Thomas (PhD Student, Cardiff University), Objects and their place in ritual performances at Nornour in the Isles of Scilly
13.10 Lunch with tea, coffee and biscuits
Session 5 – Small Finds, Short Papers
Chair Carolina Lima (PhD Student, University of Reading)
14.20 Rachel Cubit (Museum of London Archaeology), Spoons, symbolism and survival. A new find from Roman London
14.30 Peter Warry (Independent Researcher), The evolution of roof tile in Southern Britain
14.40 Victoria Keitel (PhD Student, University of Reading), Small finds from Rockbourne Roman villa
14.50 Philip Smither (University of Reading Alumnus), Roman weighing instruments from Britain
15.00 Edwin Wood (PAS, Sussex), Portable Antiquities Scheme finds from Roman London with a focus on the Swan Lane area
15.20 Hilary Cool (Barbican Research Associates), Approaches to writing finds reports; notes from Dr Cool’s casebook
16.20 Closing remarks and departure
Finds from Roman York, Brigantia and Beyond
Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd April 2016 - SPRING MEETING - University of York, Philip Rahtz lecture theatre, Kings Manor, York
Our 2016 spring meeting was jointly hosted with the Department of Archaeology, University of York.
The 2016 RFG Spring Meeting is based in York. It will be a two day conference from lunchtime on Friday 1st April until late afternoon on Saturday 2nd April and is to be held in the Philip Rahtz Lecture Theatre, Kings Manor, Uni-versity of York, jointly hosted by RFG, the Department of Archaeology at the University of York and the Yorkshire Museums Trust. RFG are grateful for the support given to arrangements for the meeting by these organisations.
There are five sessions of papers, with seventeen illustrated talks, on various aspects of finds from British sites con-centrating on York and Yorkshire, but with a range of papers from outside these areas. This is an excellent opportunity to hear about recent finds and research in the York area, as well as an opportunity to explore the Yorkshire Museum galleries.
Although we have a larger room than last years meeting in Newcastle (which was oversubscribed), space remains limited (maximum of 80 places) so early booking is strongly advised. The cost of the meeting is £40 for fully paid up RFG members, £30 for students, £48 non members and a £25 day rate (students £20).
- Access to all conference sessions, finds and poster viewings.
- Teas and coffees as in the programme.
- Wine, soft drinks and snacks at the evening reception/private viewing (must be pre booked).
- Book sales and signing by Lindsey Davies, author of the well known Falco novels.
Finds Viewing/poster displays/book sales
There is space adjacent to the lecture room for finds display and discussion—during tea/coffee breaks. If you wish to bring along finds and/or a poster display please indicate on the application form or contact Stephen Greep separately. There will also be space for the sale of books etc.
Getting to Kings Manor (University of York, Exhibition Square, York YO1 7EP)
It’s a 10 minute walk from the railway station to the Kings Manor; a taxi will cost approximately £5. Directions to the Kings Manor can be found on their web site at www.kingsmanor.co.uk. Parking in the immediate area is not easy (or cheap) but details of the nearest car parks can be found on the Kings Manor web site. The Kings Manor is a group of largely Grade I medieval buildings. Originally the Abbot's House of St Mary's Abbey, the King's Manor served the Tudors and Stuarts as a seat of government, becoming residences in the 18th century and a school in the 19th.
We are very pleased that Lindsey Davis, author of the well known Falco novels (www.lindseydavis.co.uk) has agreed to come and speak to us. A local York bookseller is providing the opportunity to purchase Falco novels and Lindsey has agreed to sign them for you. This will take place at the Yorkshire Museum event (see below) - anyone wishing to have books signed by Lindsey, but not go to the reception please let me know.
Friday Evening Social
There will be a reception and private viewing of the Roman galleries at the Yorkshire Museum (a short walk from the Kings Manor) with a glass of wine or soft drink following the keynote presentation. Please reserve a place for this on the application form— simply so we know numbers to ensure there is a glass of wine for everyone!!
For those who wish to attend we have reserved places at the York ASK restaurant which is a short walk from the Museum and Kings Manor. You’ll need to pre book for this as places are limited, but you can just pay for your meal on the evening (we currently have tables of six reserved).
Annual General Meeting
The 2016 RFG AGM will take place during the spring meeting at York on Saturday 2nd April at 11.00 am. Members may suggest items for the agenda to the Chairman, Justine Bayley (firstname.lastname@example.org) no later than 14 days before the AGM. Any officer reports will be circulated (by email) to all members before the AGM. The AGM will consider subscriptions for the next year and include elections for officers and committee members. Anyone wishing to be considered for office or joining the committee should contact Justine Bayley.
Questions and further Information
Any questions about the meeting should be made to Stephen Greep at email@example.com
Day One : Friday 1st April 2016
12.30 Registration. Welcome tea/coffee
13.00 Welcome and Introduction, Prof John Schofield, Head of Department, Department of Archaeology, University of York.
Session One : Papers based on current research in the Department of Archaeology, University of York
Chair : Justine Bayley, Chairman, Roman Finds Group
13.05 Dr David Roberts, Department of Archaeology, University of York and Richard Henry, Finds Liaison Officer, Wiltshire. Recent research on the artefacts and landscape of an unusual late Roman temple site in Wiltshire.
13.35 Rachel Wood, Department of Archaeology, University of York. Putting the Crambeck Ware Industry into its Landscape Setting.
14.05 Steve Roskams, Senior Lecturer, Department of Archaeology, University of York. The Site at Hesling ton East, York: the challenges of integrating finds assemblages with stratigraphic, spatial and functional information.
14.35 Tea/Coffee – viewing of finds and posters.
Session Two : Papers based on finds from the Yorkshire Museum
Chair : Steve Roskams, Senior Lecturer, Department of Archaeology, University of York
15.15 Adam Parker, Assistant Curator of Archaeology, Yorkshire Museum. Roman Magic: The Eboracum case study.
15.45 Dr. Andy Woods, Curator of Numismatics Yorkshire Museum. Coins from Roman York in Context
16.15 Dr Stephen Greep. Roman Ivories from the York and Brigantia in their Romano-British setting.
16.45 Lindsey Davis. ‘Whither Falco?’
Reception and Private Viewing
18.00 - Wine/soft drink reception. Yorkshire Museum and Gallery tour with an introduction to the galleries by 19.00 Natalie McCaul, Curator of Archaeology, Yorkshire Museum.
20.00 Evening Social.
Day Two : Saturday April 2nd 2015
Session Three : Papers based on finds from York and the Yorkshire Museum
Chair : Natalie McCaul, Curator of Archaeology, Yorkshire Museum
09.30 Thomas J. Derrick, School of Archaeology and Ancient History, University of Leicester. Containers and Culture: Perfume and medicine consumption in Roman North Yorkshire.
10.00 Mathew Fittock, Department of Archaeology, University of Reading. Pipeclay figures in the Yorkshire Museum.
10.30 Kurt Hunter-Mann, Post-excavation Researcher and Sandra Garside-Neville, Finds Researcher. The Driffield Terrace cemetery, York and the Ravenglass vicus, Cumbria : the finds and the interpretation of two sites excavated by the York Archaeological Trust.
11.00 Tea/Coffee. Annual General Meeting/ Tea/Coffee - viewing of finds for non RFG Members.
Session Four : Papers based on finds from Brigantia
Chair : Jenny Hall, Treasurer, Roman Finds Group
11.30 Barbara Birley, Curator, Vindolanda Trust. Scratching the surface; using artefact research to expand our understanding of Vindolanda .
12.00 Rebecca Griffiths, Finds Liaison Officer for North and East Yorks. 2015 in Yorkshire, Roman Finds from the Portable Antiquities Scheme.
12.30 Dr Sonia O’Connor, Post-doctoral Research Associate, University of Bradford and Dr Stephen Greep. Perforated bone spoons: a peculiarly Brigantian Form.
Session Five. Papers based on finds from Brigantia and beyond.
Chair : Stephen Greep, Meetings Co-ordinator, Roman Finds Group
14.15 Colin Wallace, consulting archaeologist. The Duchess of Northumberland: A Fire and A Fake Excavation: Tales from the Lives of the Bartlow Hills Roman Finds.
14.45 Prof Jennifer Price Emeritus Professor, Department of Archaeology, Durham University. Special treatment of some fourth-century glass tableware - the case of the Colliton Park bowl.
15.15 Dr David Petts, Lecturer, Department of Archaeology, University of Durham. Finds from Recent Excavations at Binchester Roman Fort.
15.45 Dr Philippa Walton, Research Fellow, University of Oxford. Cataloguing and analysis of the Roman 'votive' assemblage from Piercebridge, County Durham : An Update.
16.15 Justine Bayley, Chairman, Roman Finds Group. Summary and Closing remarks
Abstracts for the Presentations
David Roberts and Richard Henry: Recent research on the artefacts and landscape of an unusual late Roman temple site in Wiltshire
Since 2010 metal-detecting in a landscape in south-west Wiltshire has revealed approximately 8000 artefacts of later prehistoric and Roman date, including several hoards. The Past Landscapes project was set up to investigate the landscape context of these finds. Extensive geophysics was followed by excavation and post-excavation analysis of one of the key sites. Alongside this fieldwork, extensive analysis of the metal-detected assemblages was undertaken, and it became clear that their character suggested a late Roman temple set within a Late Iron Age to Late Roman landscape with various areas of activity. These included a major furnace site and domestic settlements. Excavation evidence bore out these suggestions, and added a great deal of detail to our understanding of the landscape. This short talk will discuss the context and sequence of the temple at the centre of this landscape and two of the key categories of finds from the site, miniature iron hammers and spears.
Rachel Wood. Putting the Crambeck Ware Industry into its Landscape Setting.
The study of landscapes is key to many aspects of archaeology and our understanding of the past. In this talk I want to explore how examining a landscape can inform archaeologists about a pottery production industry, in contrast to some of the traditional approaches to the study of pottery. Crambeck is a key industry in the late Roman period and its continuation into the 5th century is likely. As such, its study has the potential to inform on a much debated period at the end of Roman administration in Britain.
I will give an outline of the history and study of the Crambeck site and examine the results from a survey and excavation conducted as part of my PhD research – the first such excavation in 95 years. My investigations have revealed some previously unknown features in the Crambeck landscape taking the known activity in this area back into the Bronze Age and have produced some interesting artefacts – not just pottery! I have drawn together existing information and recent discoveries to construct a new and more detailed story of this complex landscape. I would like to end the talk by considering what a landscape approach can do for our understanding of a pottery production industry and note the large amount of information that can be uncovered through using such an approach.
Steve Roskams : The Site at Heslington East, York: the challenges of integrating finds assemblages with stratigraphic, spatial and functional information.
In archaeology, artefact studies in all periods have gone through common phases of development: from collecting to typological ordering to analysis for social interpretation. It has long been acknowledged that, to fully exploit this final element, finds must be viewed in the context of other information, not in isolation. This need for context provided, after all, part of the rationale for the financial resources expended on fieldwork in the rescue movement from the late 1960s onwards. It was what allowed the creation of a fieldwork profession which differentiated its activities from simple treasure hunting.
Using information from recently completed work on the Roman finds assemblage from Heslington East, a site on the margins of Eboracum, this paper will consider how effectively thus far we have responded to the challenge of integrating artefact studies with stratigraphic, spatial and functional information. It aims to show that much of this endeavour has yet to confront, fully and systematically, the problems that arise in post-excavation analysis. It will finish, however, by suggesting that there may be some light at the end of the tunnel.
Adam Parker. Roman Magic: The Eboracum case study
‘Magic’, in the Roman world, is a catch-all term used to describe all of the supernatural elements of daily life that fall outside the scholarly definition of 'religion’. It has traditionally been studied alongside religion, both as a related phenomenon and as a standalone concept. As a concept, ‘magic’ is difficult to define, largely because of its complex relationship with religion and other forms of ritual practice.
This paper intends to examine the range of material culture which has been variously described as ‘magical’ within its geographical, chronological and material contexts in order to assess the implications of this interlinked approach and what it can tell us about the functions of magic in the Roman world. It will include phallic charms, gold lamellae, Gnostic amulets, jet pendants and amber carvings amongst other objects.
The material evidence for ‘magic’ in Roman Britain is the subject of the speaker’s PhD studies. Eboracum will be used as a case study to show a microcosm of the potential results of this research.
Andrew Wood : Coins from Roman York in Context
Excavations over the past 200 years across the cityscape of York have produced thousands of Roman coins. Their interpretation has the potential to make a significant contribution to our understanding of the economic and social landscape of Eboracum. This paper will consider a small subset of this material, drawing upon coinage in the collections of York Museums Trust and York Archaeological Trust. It will compare the coins found at five sites, focused upon the colonia south of the river. These will be analysed with reference to larger regional and national datasets of material from archaeological excavations and metal-detected finds. This sample of coinage will be evaluated with reference to regional and national patterns.
Stephen Greep : Roman Ivories from York and Brigantia in their Romano-British setting.
Ivories have recently been described as exotic and rare and are generally considered one of the luxury products of the Roman world. But just how common and how luxurious were they? This paper examines finds of ivories from throughout the Roman period, concentrating on those from York and the north, placing them in a British and wider context.
The frequency, form, chronology and distribution of Roman ivories are discussed placing the northern finds in their British context while examining the origins of the ivories themselves. Unsurprisingly, the largest concentrations of Roman ivories are found in the cities of Britannia - York has the largest concentration in the north; but there are ivories from smaller towns, forts, villas and even a Yorkshire cave.
Ivories are found throughout the Roman period, but are never common, with under 100 find spots so far recorded – around 10% of Roman ivories appear in the north. Manufactured from elephant ivory and first appearing in Britain in pre-flavian contexts, one of the earliest examples comes from the north on hilts on two swords at South Cave. The north also has the best known ivory from Britain in the form of the York fan handles and the largest, and maybe latest piece of ivory recovered from Roman Britain in the Goodmaham plane.
Thomas J. Derrick : Containers and Culture: Perfume and medicine consumption in Roman North Yorkshire
This paper explores the archaeological evidence for the consumption of Roman perfumes, medicaments, and cosmetics in North Yorkshire. Presented and discussed here is the local evidence which fits into my wider doctoral project on the use of glass unguentaria and the consumption of unguenta and medicamenta in Roman Britain. With a reasonably held starting premise that these vessels can be used as an indicator of the consumption of their assumed contents, we can begin to greater understand the role they had in society.
The context and frequency of these vessels at sites raises a number of questions. First and foremost; who used these vessels and why? Are these small flasks just part of a site’s ‘standard assemblage’ of glass or is their presence more indicative and suggestive of a wider engagement in new behaviours? The vessels are seemingly much more common at urban sites than at rural ones, although perhaps this might be expected given that glass is often more common at these sites. Is it the case, then, that unguenta and medicamenta are neither required nor desired at rural sites and that olfactory and facial beautification only make sense within the context of urban life and social emulation? If their use is indicative of a form of acculturation, what role may women have played in this process? To what degree were the military community engaged in this behaviour and its promotion? This paper aims to present a preliminary engagement with these questions (and their relevance to North Yorks.) and to discuss approaches which can be applied to these small glass vessels in order to shed light on the spread and engagement with Roman socio-corporeal behaviours in North Yorkshire, and Britain more widely.
Matthew Fittock : Pipeclay Figurines in the Yorkshire Museum
The thirteen pipeclay figurines at Yorkshire Museum are a small but very interesting collection. Six of these come from sites in York while the other five were found during excavations of the settlement at Catterick. The group includes common deity types, such as Venus and Dea Nutrix, as well as a number of rarer types, including a bald-headed child (Risus), a large bird and a unique small, naked male. Most of these finds were discovered during late 19th and mid-20th century excavations and as such there is unfortunately very little detailed contextual information informing us about how they were used. The better recorded figurines from York are associated with the settlement’s cemeteries and this contrasts starkly with the figurines from Catterick that derive exclusively from habitation deposits. A number of additional finds from Yorkshire Archaeological Trust and existing publications will also be considered to give a more detailed impression of pipeclay figurine use and function in the region. After evaluating their iconography and distribution, this paper will conclude by contextualising the collection from Yorkshire in light of the larger assemblage of pipeclay figurines that is now known from Roman Britain.
Kurt Hunter-Mann and Sandra Garside-Neville, The Driffield Terrace cemetery, York and the Ravenglass vicus, Cumbria : the finds and the interpretation of two sites excavated by the York Archaeological Trust
This paper involves case studies of finds assemblages from two very different sites of Roman date, a cemetery at York and a vicus attached to the fort at Ravenglass on the Cumbrian coast, which were subject to different excavation strategies. The interpretation of the assemblages provokes consideration of the context of the finds, the reliability of the excavation samples and the relationship of the 'sites' to wider human land use.
Barbara Birley : Scratching the surface; using artefact research to expand our understanding of Vindolanda
The Vindolanda collection expands every year with the ongoing programme of archaeological excavation and many of the recent finds have been highlighted at past Roman Finds Group meetings. But this has just been on the surface of what these objects can tell us. We have to go under that surface to begin to understand them: many artefacts have to wait for specialists to examine them and new projects and opportunities are always underway. New scientific methods have been applied to certain finds, such as our Severan human skull found in 2001, and have shed a different light on their history. I will share this new research and I will also be highlighting other work, including information on our expansive footwear collection and use wear analysis on our recent cavalry sword. To conclude, I will share some initial thoughts on some of the objects from the 2015 excavation season.
Rebecca Griffiths : 2015 in Yorkshire: Roman Finds from the Portable Antiquities Scheme
The Portable Antiquities Scheme was established in order to record archaeological objects found by members of the public. Every year thousands of objects are discovered, primarily by metal-detector users, but also by people simply out walking or gardening, and the PAS records this information onto an online database where it is accessible to anyone who has an interest in the archaeology of England and Wales, including both academics and the general public. The vast and varied landscape of Yorkshire continues to generate a huge range of archaeological material and when these artefacts are found and recorded, their stories can be woven into the narrative of history.
From the abundant Roman coins found throughout the region to unique examples of brooches not recorded outside Yorkshire and perplexing oddities such as the mysterious dodecahedron, this presentation takes the opportunity to highlight some of the spectacular and the everyday finds which are helping to shed further light on Roman Yorkshire. It will also look at some of the ways in which the artefacts of the Romans have continued to influence the archaeology of subsequent periods.
Sonia O’Connor and Stephen Greep : Perforated bone spoons: a peculiarly Brigantian Form
Bone spoon-shaped objects with a central perforation to the bowl and sometimes a decorated terminal, were first identified as a British form by Curle in the Newstead report over 100 years ago, but their function has long remained a mystery. More recent studies have emphasized their geographical distribution which remains almost exclusively within the territory of the Brigantes, with a surprisingly large number coming from the Yorkshire caves, although they are present in towns, forts and villas as well.
The authors have conducted a new study personally examining almost every example so far known. This paper looks at the typology, chronology and distribution of the group. Zoom and wear analysis have been used to identify the type of material used and to attempt a more meaningful explanation of function.
Colin Wallace : The Duchess of Northumberland, A Fire and A Fake Excavation: Tales from the Lives of the Bartlow Hills Roman Finds.
Well-illustrated in the pages of the journal Archaeologia (25, 1834; 26, 1836; and 28, 1840), the finds from the Roman barrows at the Bartlow Hills, on the modern Cambridgeshire/Essex border – sets of glass, wood, pottery and metal vessels accompanying cremation burials (mainly) in wooden chests, under barrow-mounds – excavated in 1832, 1835, 1838 and 1840, are also reasonably well-known as being among the more notable ‘lost artefacts’ of Roman Britain, having been destroyed in a country-house fire in February 1847. Recent fieldwork has probed the landscape, structure and nature of the barrow-complex, with useful results (Eckardt et al, Archaeological Prospection 14:1, 2007, Britannia 40, 2009 and Proc Cambridge Antiquarian Society 98, 2009); here I present some material arising from a different resource assessment – one on the history of the archaeology of the Bartlow Hills – shedding light on the replication of archaeological artefacts before the advent of electrotyping, the accuracy (or otherwise) of what we think we know of the objects’ life-history since the 1830s and the social history of archaeology, whether choosing which aristocratic patron to gift a replica to or making an entire excavation up to help cope with severe embarrassment.
Jenny Price : Special treatment of some fourth-century glass tableware; the case of the Colliton Park bowl
A fragmentary late Roman hemispherical glass bowl with incised figured decoration showing a Bacchic scene was found in a pit during excavations at Colliton Park in Dorchester, Dorset in 1938. The bowl has been published on several occasions since then and is widely accepted as one of the finest pieces of fourth-century glass tableware from Britain.
In 2006, this bowl was included in a major exhibition held in the Yorkshire Museum to commemorate the 1700th anniversary of the proclamation of Constantine the Great as Emperor in York on 25 July 306, and it was then recognised that it had been divided into two pieces before being deposited in a pit. This discovery has led to a reassessment of the significance of the Colliton Park bowl, and of some other decorated late Roman glass vessels also showing evidence of deliberate separation.
David Petts : Finds from Roman Binchester
Excavations on the fort and vicus at Binchester (County Durham) has been underway every summer since 2009. This work has provided valuable insights into the development, and in particular, the final phases of activity at this important Dere Street fortification.
In the fort, we have excavated most of a cavalry barrack. This has shown activity continuing into not only the sub-Roman period, but also the later 5th century, from when we have a substantial faunal assemblage. A range of material culture has been recovered including the usual range of ceramics and metalwork. We also have some interesting features including a crudely carved figural slab seemingly embedded in the barrack floor, and an interesting early 4th century ring with Christian imagery on the intaglio.
In the vicus, we uncovered an exceptionally well-preserved bath block, which had been infilled with a massive dump of rubbish in the mid/late 4th century. This has produced substantial assemblages of domestic material, including metalwork, glass (vessel and window) and worked bone. There is also evidence for a range of craft and industrial activities in nearby structures, including a well-preserved non-ferrous metalworking area and jet working.
This paper will take a broad overview of the range of material recovered from both areas- including looking at both the high profile finds, as well as considering a cross-section of other material. It will also address some of the key research questions and challenges that face us, as we commence post-excavation work.
Philippa Walton : Cataloguing and analysis of the Roman 'votive' assemblage from Piercebridge, County Durham : An Update
As regular attendees at RFG meetings will know, over the past twenty years, more than 5,000 Roman objects have been recovered from the bed of the River Tees at Piercebridge, County Durham, by two divers. The objects include, amongst other things, jewellery, military artefacts, coinage, medical instruments and figurines and appear to represent the remains of nationally significant Romano-British votive deposit. This paper will give an update on the progress of the project and will concentrate on an investigation of items of personal adornment (brooches, bracelets, finger rings etc) and what they might be able to tell us about the identity of devotees, their motivations for making offerings of objects and actual processes of deposition
6th November 2015 - AUTUMN MEETING The British Museum
The British Museum will be staging an exhibition on the Celts in autumn 2015. The RFG, in conjunction with the LPFG (Later Prehistoric Finds Group), will be hosting a 1-day conference in association with the exhibition. It will be held in the Stevenson Theatre of the British Museum on Friday November 6th 2015. Speakers will include British Museum curators involved in the exhibition and will include free entry to the exhibition on the day/evening.
A major Later Prehistoric Finds Group & Roman Finds Group conference in collaboration with the British Museum and including entry to the temporary exhibition,
The Celts: art & identity The Stevenson Theatre British Museum Friday November 6th 2015 10am-4.30pm
10.20-10.30 Welcome & introduction
10.30-11.00 Keynote: Who were the Celts and what is Celtic Art?
Dr Jody Joy, Senior Curator (Archaeology), Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology, University of Cambridge
11.00-11.30 ‘Those singularly beautiful curves’: Art and identity in Iron Age Europe
Dr Julia Farley, Curator of the European Iron Age Collections, British Museum & lead Curator, The Celts exhibition (BM)
11.30-12.00 'A material girl in a material world?’ Cartimandua, Stanwick and the Roman Iron Age in north-east England
Professor Colin Haselgrove, Professor of Archaeology, University of Leicester
12.00 – 1.45pm LUNCH
- 12.10-13.10 TOUR 1
- 12.20-13.20 TOUR 2
- 12.30-13.30 TOUR 3
1.45-2.15 Refresh, renew, reinvent: the transformation of Celtic art in Roman Britain
Dr Fraser Hunter, Principal Curator, Iron Age & Roman Collections, National Museums of Scotland & Curator, The Celts exhibition (NMS)
2.15-2.45 Numina Britannorum: Celtic deities in a Roman world Professor Miranda Aldhouse-Green, Professor of Archaeology, Cardiff University
3.15-3.45 A monumental difference in Early Medieval Insular art Dr Martin Goldberg, Senior Curator, Early Historic & Viking Collections, Dept of Scottish History & Archaeology, National Museums of Scotland & Curator, The Celts exhibition (NMS)
3.45-4.15 The art of the chariot: martial mobility and meaning in Iron Age Britain
Dr Melanie Giles, Senior Lecturer in Archaeology, Archaeology: School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, University of Manchester
- 4.40-5.40 TOUR 4
There are 4 timed entries to the exhibition for which delegates will need to book and while every effort will be made to accommodate applications, tickets will be allotted on a first-come, first-served basis (see booking form below).
Please note that we are unable to give any form of discount to those who are also British Museum Friends
TICKET APPLICATION LPFG & RFG conference
Stevenson Theatre, British Museum,
Friday November 6th 2015
The cost (with afternoon tea) also includes entry to the exhibition:
LPRG & RFG members: £25
Ticket applications and general enquiries should be addressed to:
Mrs Jenny Hall,
Hon Treasurer, Roman Finds Group,
26 Park Hill Road, WALLINGTON,
Surrey SM6 0SB
Or by e-mail and re online payments, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Roman Finds Group
Annual Roman Finds Group membership is now £12 pa (£15 for joint membership). For details, please see: /join-us
[Would RFG members please note that members rate applications only apply to those who have paid their 2014/5 subscriptions!]
The Later Prehistoric Finds Group
The Later Prehistoric Finds Group & Roman Finds Group would like to thank the British Museum’s Dept. of Britain, Europe and Prehistory for their support in organising this conference.
There are 4 timed entries to the exhibition with 40 places booked for each tour for which delegates will need to book:
There may also be the opportunity to buy the paperback edition of the exhibition publication at a discounted price. Please indicate if you would like further information.
Finds from the Roman North and Beyond
Joint Roman Finds Group and Centre for Interdisciplinary Artefact Studies
Spring 2015 Meeting 16th - 17th March, Newcastle University
Update! We have received a synopsis of the papers that will be presented. You can read these below by clicking here: Read the Synopsis of Papers.
The 2015 RFG Spring Meeting is based in Newcastle. It will be a two day conference from lunchtime on the Monday 16th to late afternoon on Tuesday 17th March. It will be held in Rooms 1.04 and 1.06 of the Armstrong Building, University of Newcastle Upon Tyne and is being jointly hosted by RFG and the Centre for Interdisciplinary Artefact Studies of the University (ncl.ac.uk/historical/about/facilities/cias.htm).
There are four sessions of papers, with fourteen illustrated talks, on various aspects of finds from sites throughout the north, and an organised visit to Segedunum Roman Fort, Baths and Museum. This is an excellent opportunity to hear about recent finds and research in the north, as well as to view one of the major museums along Hadrian's Wall which has undergone major work in the last few years.
Space is limited so early booking is strongly advised. The cost of the meeting is £30 for fully paid up RFG members, £20 for students, £35 non members.
- Access to all conference sessions, finds and poster viewings.
- Teas and coffees as in the programme.
- Wine, soft drinks and snacks at the evening reception
- Finds Viewing/poster displays/book sales
There is space in the Armstrong Building for finds display and discussion—during tea/coffee breaks. There will be recent finds from Vindolanda and South Shields but further displays are welcome—please indicate on the meeting application form. There will also be space for poster displays and the sale of books etc.
Getting to the Armstrong Building
From Newcastle Railway Station a taxi will cost approximately £5. Transportation from and to Newcastle Railway Station is easiest by Metro (to Haymarket Station) or by any bus to Eldon Square. A city centre map showing the University Campus is on the RFG web site. Travelling by car is not encouraged, but the Armstrong Building is opposite the RVI Hospital and the carpark off Claremont Rd usually has spaces and is not too expensive. Trains to Newcastle are, of course very regular (e.g. Monday 09.00 from KX arrives Newcastle 11.51; Tuesday 16.59 Newcastle arrives KX 19.51 - subject to timetable change). Download the Campus Map here.
Joint Roman Finds Group Centre for Interdisciplinary Artefact Studies Meeting Spring 2015
Monday Evening Reception and Conference Dinner
There will be a reception for delegates at 17.30 . Following this, at 19.30, there will be a Conference meal, held in ‘the Ottoman Turkish Restaurant’. This must be pre booked. (details on booking). The menu for Monday evening will be placed here in due course.
Annual General Meeting
There will be a short Annual General Meeting for RFG Members on the Tuesday morning. There are three main items for discussion: an RFG Constitution, Establishment of a RFG Grant Fund and future RFG subscriptions. Details will be circulated to all RFG Members prior to the AGM so that those members not able to be there can still have a say in these matters!
On the Tuesday afternoon there is an opportunity to visit Segedunum Roman Fort, Baths and Museum (www.twmuseums.org.uk/segedunum-roman-fort.html) including an opportunity to scale (or take the lift!) the viewing platform for an excellent view of the remains of the Roman fort and to watch the time lapse video of the building history of the site. There will then be a guided tour of the full scale reconstructed bath house (current repairs permitting) and Hadrian’s Wall reconstruction. There is an additional charge for this event of £6, which includes transport from the Armstrong Building, return to the railway station and admission to the Museum. There will be an opportunity to purchase a snack lunch at the Museum.
Questions and further Information
Any questions about the meeting should be made to Stephen Greep at email@example.com
Meeting Programme and Timetable
Day One : Monday 16th March 2015
13.00 Registration. Welcome tea/coffee
13.25 Welcome and Introduction, Dr James Gerrard, Department of History, Classics and Archae ology, University of Newcastle.
Session One : Current Finds Research at The University of Newcastle
Chair : Dr Jane Webster , Senior Lecturer in Historical Archaeology and Head of Archaeology, De partment of History, Classics and Archaeology, University of Newcastle.
13.30 Dr James Gerrard, Lecturer in Roman Archaeology, Department of History, Classics and Archaeology, University of Newcastle. ‘Rethinking the Irchester bowl, again’
14.00 Emma Gooch, MA Student, Department of History, Classics and Archaeology, University of Newcastle. ‘A load of old bulls: ‘phallic horns’ in bovine imagery’
14.30 Evan Scherer, PhD Student. Department of History, Classics and Archaeology, University of Newcastle. ‘The Use and Abuse of Late Roman Artefacts in Transylvania’
15.00 Tea/Coffee – viewing of finds and posters.
Session Two : Finds from South Shields
Chair : Dr Mark Jackson, Lecturer in Archaeology, Department of History, Classics and Archaeology, University of Newcastle
15.30 Dr Stephen Greep ‘A very late Roman furniture makers workshop from Arbeia’
16.00 Matt Fittock, PhD Student, University of Reading ‘Pipeclay Figurines from South Shields in their wider setting’
16.30 Alex Croom, Keeper of Archaeology, Tyne and Wear Museums Service ‘Finds from recent Vicus Excavations at Arbeia’
16.50 Keynote Speaker: Lindsey Allason-Jones ‘Working with Roman Finds’
17.30 Wine/soft drink reception (with snacks)
19.30 Evening dinner at the Ottoman Turkish Restaurant (details on booking)
Day Two : Tuesday 17th March 2015
Session Three : Finds from the North
Chair : Justine Bayley, Chairman, Roman Finds Group
09.00 Dr Philippa Walton, ‘Research Fellow, University of Oxford . ‘Cataloguing and analysis of the Roman 'votive' assemblage from Piercebridge, County Durham : An Update.’
09.30 Dr Rob Collins Research Associate on the Frontiers of the Roman Empire Digital Humanities Initiative (FREDHI) at Newcastle University ''Great Whittington: New finds identifying a new site in the Wall corridor'
10.00 Frances McIntosh, Curator of Roman Collections, English Heritage /PhD student, Newcastle University’ ‘Clayton; Collector, Conservator and Curator’
10.30 John Cruse, ‘Independent Researcher and York Archaeological Society Quern Co-ordinator ‘Roman Querns in the North – Some Distinctive Regional Types’
11.00 Annual General Meeting/ Tea/Coffee - viewing of finds for non RFG Members
Session Four. Finds from the North and Beyond
Chair : Sally Worrell, PAS National Finds Adviser, Roman Artefacts, UCL
11.30 Barbara Birley, Curator, Vindolanda Trust, ‘From tablets to toilet seats – an update on the recent finds from Vindolanda
12.00 Jenny Proctor, Post Excavation Manager Pre-construct Archaeology, Recent finds from Be dale, N. Yorks’
12.30 Dr Hella Eckardt, Associate Professor, Department of Archaeology, University of Reading‘ Literacy and power: Bronze inkwells in the Roman Empire?’
13.00 Meeting Close
Session Five : Visit to Segedunum Roman Fort, Baths and Museum
13.15 Transport to Wallsend Museum (lunch available)
14.15 Alex Croom: Introduction to the Wallsend Museum
15.00 Nick Hodgson: The Bath-house and Wall reconstructions
16.00 Transport to Newcastle Railway station will depart from Wallsend (15/20 minute journey— timed to meet the 16.59 departure from Newcastle Central Station)
Synopsis of Papers to be Presented
The Irchester Bowl, again
The Irchester Bowl is a relatively well known late Roman and early medieval bronze vessel form. They are usually hemispherical with an inturned rim and an omphalos base and have typological links to the famous early medieval series of hanging bowls.
This paper examines the typology, distribution and date of these vessels and draws on new discoveries and forgotten information to present an up-to-date review of this interesting vessel.
A load of old bulls: ‘phallic horns’ in bovine imagery
Bovine imagery was a relatively common feature of zoomorphic ‘Celtic’ art and bovine finials from both the pre-Roman Iron Age and the later Romano-British period are comparatively well attested, most especially as finds recorded on the Portable Antiquities Scheme database. The ‘phallic’ – and thereby symbolic – nature of the horns upon a copper alloy bucrania excavated during the 2005-2006 Pre-Construct Archaeology fieldwork at Grange Farm, Gillingham in Kent, however, is not common. This unusual example of a well-known artefact type therefore represents an interesting case study upon which to base a consideration of the potential symbolism of such artefacts and their associated imagery.
This paper presents a contextual find spot analysis of the Grange Farm find and a comparative contemplation of it relative to similarly styled vessel escutcheons, firedogs and cosmetic mortars in an attempt to postulate its potential function, chronological placement and cultural affiliations. This comparative analysis is then expanded to consider the potential symbolic significance of bovine depictions, especially the small minority with ‘phallic’ horns, in ‘Celtic’ and Romano-British art.
The Use and Abuse of Late Roman Artefacts in Transylvania
The presence of early Christianity in Transylvania has been a hotly-debated topic over the last two centuries. The evidence has been displayed mainly through a Late Roman numismatic presence in the region, as well as a disparate assemblage of finds ranging from hand-made objects to so called "high-status" finds imported from the far reaches of the Empire.
This paper examines "high-status" finds through a case study of Pilgrim Flasks from the monastery of Abu-Mina in modern-day Egypt. By deconstructing the historiography surrounding these artefacts, as well as placing them in their larger context, an attempt is made to re-address aspects of the material evidence of early Christianity in Transylvania.
A very late Roman furniture makers workshop from Arbeia
During Excavations of the Commanding Officers house in the south-east corner of the Roman fort at South Shields (1986-91) a considerable quantity of waste and worked red deer antler was recovered - the largest quantity (at least 22 antlers; around 12kg of material) so far recorded from Roman Britain. Although the deposits were disturbed and the waste occurred over a fairly wide area of the site, it clearly represents waste products from the manufacture of wooden furniture. All stages of production are represented, although the major (but not only) final product was small, two-grooved strips well represented from sites elsewhere in Britain. The workshop is dated on coin evidence to post c. AD388 and represent the latest evidence of furniture manufacture yet recorded from Roman Britain.
This presentation will examine the working techniques, implications for late fourth/early fifth century cultural and industrial practices and place this find in the context of decorated furniture making throughout the Roman period in Britain.
Pipeclay Figurines from South Shields in their Wider Setting
Pipeclay figurines are an important yet under-examined category of artefacts that provide a valuable insight into the religious lives of those who inhabited Roman Britain. Produced in terracotta workshops located in the Allier Valley and region around Cologne during the first and second centuries AD, the figurines from South Shields comprise an important part of the finds recovered from the north of the province. The range of figurine types from the site is limited and includes common depictions of Venus, Dea Nutrix and Minerva, but also an interesting plinth base inscribed by the craftsmen Servandus that is particularly rare amongst the wider material now available from the country.
This paper will assess the social distribution and contextual deposition of the collection of pipeclay figurines from South Shields alongside a wider corpus of discoveries from nearby sites, like Benwell and Wallsend, to evaluate the possible function and social significance of these objects across the region. Comparison with other pipeclay figurine assemblages recovered from London, wider Britain, and Gaul will also highlight any distinctive patterns of regional consumption and use, while subtle fragmentation patterns additionally provide an insight into beliefs and ritual practices that help further explore the nature of religious life in these areas of the Western Provinces.
Finds from the recent excavations in the vicus at South Shields Roman Fort
The area currently under excavation at the site was placed just outside the south-west corner of the extended fort, with the aim of looking at the defences of the supply base, to see how close the vicus came to them, and to find out if the area had been in use before the supply base. Activity in the area continued from the late second until the fourth century, although most of the small finds come from third-century deposits. There was a workshop for gold- and silver-working close to the fort defences that was in use until the mid-third century. Most of the other finds of interest came from the fill of the supply base ditch.
Working with Roman Finds
Everyone expects to see a report on the finds from an excavation in its final report. To many people the production and publication of a catalogue is the end of the process; for many finds specialists, however, this is merely the end of Stage One. In recent years, much synthetic work has been done on finds and this work is shedding considerable light on the way people lived in the past but occasionally offers insights in to life in the present.
Newcastle University has a long track record of working with artefacts and in 2008 set up the Centre for Interdisciplinary Artefact Studies (CIAS) to take this work further. Much of this activity has involved contributions by scholars from different backgrounds; some, such as conservators and metallurgists, have traditionally worked with archaeologists; some, such as psychiatrists and musicians, have not. This paper explores some of the unexpected byways the speaker has wandered down whilst pursuing knowledge about artefacts
Cataloguing and analysis of the Roman 'votive' assemblage from Piercebridge, County Durham : An Update.
RFG members will probably already be familiar with the assemblage of approximately 4,000 Roman objects which has been recovered from the bed of the River Tees at Piercebridge, County Durham. The assemblage includes a diverse range of material from jewellery to military artefacts, coinage to medical instruments and appears to represent a large ‘votive’ deposit dating predominantly to the mid Roman period.
At present, the assemblage is being processed as potential Treasure before possible museum acquisition. In addition to my continued efforts to package, photograph, catalogue and analyse its contents, 2014 saw specialist reports completed on the pottery and leatherwork. This paper will therefore provide an update on current work and outline some exciting new discoveries. It will also aim for the first time to give an overview of the entire assemblage and tentatively to ask what it represents, who put it there and why?
You can follow the progress of the project on Facebook. You do not need a Facebook account to access the page: www.facebook.com/RomanPiercebridge
Great Whittington: New finds identifying a new site in the Wall Corridor
Roman artefacts are a staple of the PAS' Find's Liaison Officer's diet, and has been amply demonstrated by Tom Brindle, new Roman sites can be documented through objects recorded by the PAS. However, these sites tend to be more common south and east of the Fosse Way, with fewer new sites identified in the north and west of Britannia, let alone north of Hadrian's Wall. Yet, intriguing discoveries around the village of Great Whittington in Northumberland point to an interesting and important new site in the Wall corridor.
Located approximately 1 mile north of the Wall, the modern village is just south of the Devil's Causeway Roman road, and approximately 1 mile east of Dere Street where it crosses through the Wall at the Portgate. Discoveries have included a vessel hoard, a small purse hoard of 5th century date, and a rather diverse array (for Northumberland) of small finds and coins. An overview of these discoveries will be offered, and a tentative interpretation of the site provided.
Clayton; Collection, Conservator and Curator
John Clayton (1792- 1890) was a wealthy lawyer and businessman who used much of his money to purchase stretches of Hadrian’s Wall. Once in his possession they were protected from stone robbing and quarrying, were often restored and many parts were excavated. Through his excavations he accumulated a large collection of Roman material from the Central Sector of Hadrian’s Wall. This collection is now cared for by English Heritage and displayed at Chesters Museum (built by Clayton’s heir in 1895). My PhD aims to look at the history of the collection, as well as to investigate specific aspects of the collection to see what can be gained from studying an antiquarian collection.
This paper will focus on the coins within the Clayton Collection as a case study for the challenges involved in working with antiquarian collections. The low number of coins has meant numismatic analysis has been limited however research into the reason for the low number has helped illuminate differing practices, as well as the antiquarian networks in existence in the 19th and early 20th century. This research helps to put John Clayton into the context of his time, and shows just how many people have been linked to this Collection. Items from the Clayton archive have been used to get an insight into Clayton’s interests and expertise, as well as the specialists he consulted. In order to analyse material collected in the 19th century, and understand why certain finds were collected or not, the processes at play must be considered, and the coins offer an example of this methodology.
Roman Querns & Millstones with Double, Opposed Perforations
This paper investigates two groups of Roman querns and millstones, which in addition to the customary central perforation, also have two opposed, often D-shaped, openings.
One group are hand querns, with diameters up to 50-55cm, with their opposed openings set within D-shaped hoppers. They were first noted in 1892 and have been discussed as ‘distinctive group’ by David Buckley & Hilary Major in 1998 (1). As more examples have been recorded (~50 are now known), a clearer picture is emerging of their chronological development, of the restricted regional distribution in northern England of their two variant types and of their likely mode of manufacture.
In addition, there is another group of larger diameter examples, lacking the distinguishing D-shaped hoppers, with a range of individual features which identify them as upper stones of powered millstones. In the absence of intact published examples, the presence of an off-centre perforation on a fragmented millstone often goes un-remarked. With over 20 examples now known, including the first complete stone, it can now be shown that this previously unrecognised millstone design is largely a Later Roman phenomenon, with a far wider distribution than the above hand querns. We will also explore how these three perforations functioned and examine the possible advantages of this design.
- Buckley DG & Major H (1998), The Quernstones, in Cool HEM & Philo C, Roman Castleford :Excavations 1974-85: Volume 1: The Small Finds, p244-7
From tablets to toilet seats – an update on the recent finds from Vindolanda
2014 was an exceptional year for the Vindolanda excavations, producing a wide range of wonderful, rare and beautifully preserved artefacts from the site. The archaeological work took place in three areas and all the following locations produced something special.
The excavations in the field to the north of the Stanegate Road uncovered an impressive Roman military kiln site and although we are just beginning to understand this area, we have recovered a large amount of brick and tile and evidence for the manufacture of coarse ware pottery. Three of the most outstanding artefacts were a very fine appliqué mould of Apollo, a wooden potter’s wheel and an enamelled seal box.
Inside south east quadrant of the 3rd-4th century fort, the second year of excavations revealed the last layers of occupation on the site. A gold aureus of Nero was found in this area as well as a host of late Roman and post-Roman artefacts and building levels.
The final area included some of the pre-Hadrianic anaerobic levels below the later 3rd century vicus buildings. These are the places where the organic objects survive and produced some of the best preserved finds. Leather boots and shoes, wooden objects including bowls, part of a wagon wheel, stylus and ink on wood tablets and a toilet seat to name but a few. The metal objects from these excavations were generally in pristine condition and included many personal artefacts.
A ditched enclosure and villa at Bedale, North Yorkshire: finds from the Bedale, Aiskew and Leeming Bar bypass excavations
Pre-Construct Archaeology began a series of excavations ahead of the construction of the Bedale, Aiskew and Leeming Bar Bypass in North Yorkshire in November 2014. Work is continuing into March 2015 on two major sites which are impacted by the road scheme, and thus any observations are, of necessity, preliminary.
The earlier of the two sites is represented by a ditched sub-square enclosure measuring c. 50m internally, located towards the southern end of the bypass. Sections across the ditch on its most substantial side have revealed it to be up to 6.80m wide and 1.80m deep, and recut on at least one occasion. The interior of the enclosure has been badly damaged by ploughing with only a few pits and a possible large hearth surviving. Small quantities of handmade Iron Age tradition pottery as well as a few sherds of wheel-thrown Romano-British pottery and samian ware demonstrate that the enclosure was in use into the Roman period. A beautifully preserved bone weaving comb, along with fragments of quernstones, are perhaps indicators of the type of activities being undertaken. The well–preserved animal bone assemblage is dominated by cattle and sheep, with bones from very young calves suggesting that the settlement was involved in animal husbandry. Pig and horse are also present along with wild species such as red and roe deer. As well as evidence for butchery, the animal bone assemblage includes material indicative of craft working, while slag, fragments of hearth lining, hammerscale, copper-alloy waste and crucible fragments indicate working of both iron and copper in the vicinity.
The 3rd- to late 4th-century Aiskew Roman villa is located on a ridge of higher land defined by Scurf Beck to the west and Dere Street, just over 1km to the east. Catterick lies c. 10km to the north and Alborough around 25km to the south. Geophysical survey indicates that the villa is of substantial size and is set within a landscape of enclosures and field systems.
Within the area investigated a range of rooms adjoins a 4m-wide north-south aligned tessellated corridor. In most areas the stone wall foundations have been robbed with only very small areas of coursed stone wall surviving, but an intact concrete floor surface overlain by collapsed painted wall plaster gives an insight into the finish and decoration of rooms.
A small room, around 4m square and apparently added onto the north-west side of the complex, has now been fully excavated. This was heated as demonstrated by the bases of pilae stacks, and demolition debris including box-flue tiles. Painted wall plaster in many different colours demonstrates that this was a well-appointed room.
Large quantities of animal bone along with oyster and mussel shell give an indication of the inhabitants’ diet. Personal items include bone pins, copper-alloy brooches, glass beads and jet and shale bracelets. Well-preserved iron tools include knives and a cleaver.
Writing power: inkwells and identities
It is generally thought that only relatively few individuals could read and write in antiquity, with literacy being essentially limited to the elite and the army. Crucially, literacy relates to power, in terms of ‘power over texts and power exercised by means of their use’ (Bowman and Woolf 1994: 6). Writing enabled a form of domination to be imposed and sustained even on illiterate individuals (Pearce 2004: 44).
Previous research has focused on the most obvious evidence (e.g. stone inscriptions) and overall levels of literacy in the Roman world. This paper will examine one particular category of writing implement (bronze inkwell) as a case study of how contextualised and theoretically-informed finds analysis can be applied even to relatively rare objects that have never been studied as a group. I have compiled a substantial corpus of ca. 400 bronze inkwells gathered from dispersed publications in order to address the question of how they were used to express identities across the Roman Empire. The distribution and contexts of bronze inkwells are compared to other writing equipment, and a close study of their depictions on wall paintings and tombs gives an insight into symbolic and cultural meanings. The paper aims to understand what inkwells ‘did’ in Roman society, and how their use related to expressions of identities and power.
Conference Dinner Menu
Meeting Booking Form
Please Download, complete and print the form below and return with a cheque made payable to the Roman Finds Group to :
Dr Stephen Greep
6 The Redwoods,
If you require additional information or wish to clarify anything about the meeting please email Stephen at:
TRAC2015 Call for Papers
Following the success of last year’s Roman Finds Group session at TRAC, we are very pleased to sponsor a session this year on ‘Interdisciplinary Approaches to Roman Artefacts’.
Proposals for papers are invited by October 31st. Proposals should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include either ‘paper’, ‘poster’ or ‘lightning round’ in the subject line of your submission. All submissions will go through a peer review process.
We look forward to seeing you there.
Ellen Swift, University of Kent
Interdisciplinary Approaches to Roman Artefacts
The Roman Finds Group has an eclectic base comprising field archaeologists, materials scientists, museum curators and educators, experimental archaeologists, academics, and many others. As such we would like to promote an interdisciplinary approach to Roman artefact studies, drawing on the diverse range of knowledge and expertise that exists in material-based studies. The contribution of anthropology is long-standing in the interpretation of archaeological artefacts, however, many other disciplines also have a material focus. This session particularly encourages theoretically-informed contributions that consider the material of Roman artefacts from a wider perspective, e.g. that of art and design, museum studies, materials science, craft experience, or experimental reconstruction.
Roman Finds Group Conference: Finds from Manchester and the North West
8th October 2014
Staffordshire Pan - ‘Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery Trust, Carlisle’
9.30-10.00 Registration + Tea/Coffee
10.00 Paul Holder (University of Manchester) – Recent finds of Roman Military Diplomas from Britain
10.30 Norman Redhead (Greater Manchester Archaeology Advisory Service) – Finds from Castleshaw Roman Fort
11.00 Vanessa Oakden (Portable Antiquities Scheme) – Finds beneath our Fields: The Knutsford Hoard
11.30 Bryan Sitch (Manchester Museum) – Manchester Museum collections
12.00-1.30pm Lunch (will feature visits to Museum store)
A relatively long lunch break is planned so there will be time to see material in the reserve collection as well as exxploring the museum and finding something to eat.
1.30-2.00 Barbara Birley (Vindolanda Trust) – Keeping up appearances: the wooden hair combs from Vindolanda
2.00-2.30 Gill Dunn – Recent finds from Chester focusing on finds from the amphitheatre
2.30-3.00 Justine Bayley – Enamelled Roman objects
3.30-4.00 Matthew Ponting (University of Liverpool) – Recent analysis of Roman coins (title tbc)
4.-4.30 Rob Philpott – Roman finds from Meols on the North Wirral shore
4.30-5.00 Discussion and closing remarks
There will be an opportunity to see material in the reserve collection. For more information and bookings please contact Bryan Sitch, Deputy Head of Collections, Manchester Museum, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL (email@example.com). All bookings must be made before 3rd October 2014, but as places are limited, early booking is advised.
Cost: £15 for RFG members and students, and £20 for others (includes tea and coffee but not lunch). Cheques should be made payable to the Roman Finds Group.
Roman Finds Group meetings are held twice a year in varying locations, and provide a useful opportunity for presentation and discussion.
We are in the process of setting an exciting programme of meetings for the next year or two.
Our Spring 2014 meeting will be part of the Roman Archaeology Conference at the University of Reading, 27-30 March. Hella Eckardt is leading the session "Roman metal small finds in context" on the afternoon of Friday 28th March. Early bird booking rates should hopefully be in place before Christmas, and a provisional programme is here:
We shall visit Exeter's revamped RAM Museum during the Summer of 2014. We also hope to host an Autumn meeting in Manchester, to coincide with the British Museum's touring exhibitionEmpire, Power and People.
RAC 11/TRAC 24
27th–30th March, 2014
This spring we are joining the Study Group for Roman Pottery in sponsoring a session at the Roman Archaeology Conference being held at the University of Reading. Our session is titled Roman Metal Small Finds in Context. The speakers are:
Ellen Swift – Design, function and everyday social practices: a case study on Roman spoons
Emma Durham – Metropolitan styling. The figurines from London and Colchester
Michael Marshall, Natasha Powers , Sadie Watson – ‘Treasure’, ‘trash’ and taphonomy: Approaches to the excavation and interpretation of Roman finds from the Walbrook valley
Martin Pitts – First generation urban communities: comparing ceramic and brooch assemblages in Roman Britain
Tatiana Ivleva – What’s in the name? ‘Britishness’ of British-made brooches abroad
Hella Eckardt – Immigrant soldiers at Hollow Banks Quarry, Scorton? New work on crossbow brooches, burial rites and isotopes
There are many other sessions that will be of interest to members of the group including:
- Insularity and Identity in the Roman Mediterranean
- Small Finds and Ancient Social Practices
- Return to the Sauce: new investigations concerning amphorae and their contexts
- ‘Deposits Full of Character’
- Clay and Cult: Roman terracottas and their production and use in domestic, religious and funerary contexts
- Continuity and Change – the impact of foodways on provincial pottery traditions
The basic conference fee is £98 including lunches on
Friday and Saturday, and there are discounts for students (‐£20) and Society members (‐£5). Delegates can also book in for the Conference dinner on the Friday night and a guided tour around Silchester on the Sunday afternoon. Conference details, including abstracts of all papers, can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/archaeology/Conferences/ RAC2014
Fully funded AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award PhD studentship between the University of Kent and English Heritage
The key research question is as follows: How does the artefact assemblage of small finds from Roman Richborough contribute to our understanding of the military site, its occupants, and the wider nature of the Roman military in the NW provinces of the empire? There is scope to develop the project according to the student’s particular interests for instance by focusing on particular methodological approaches or categories of material.... Read More »
We have now received the abstracts for our forthcoming conference. You can read them all here.... Read More »