roman

5.6.2 Metal: procurement and manufacture

There is increasing circumstantial evidence for Roman-period (presumably military) use of the Wanlockhead / Leadhills lead source from reappraisal of lead isotope results on lead pigs and work on pollution signatures (Hunter 2006; Mighall, unpublished). The known lead and silver source at Siller Holes, near Carlops is another circumstantial candidate given the temporary camp in its immediate vicinity and its proximity to a known road line. It is important to keep an open mind on the possibility of other metals being exploited; only iron-smelting seems to find some partial evidence, of uncertain scale (it is recorded, for instance, at Doune; Photos-Jones forthcoming).

Blacksmiths tongs from Newstead ©SCRAN and NMS

Roman sites regularly produce iron-working evidence, as might be expected if repair (and perhaps manufacture) of tools and weapons was an everyday task. Indeed, it is now attested on campaign at the camp at Kintore (Heald 2008, 209). The nature and scale of this activity is as yet poorly understood.

Small-scale evidence of bronze-casting is found widely on fort sites, but rarely commented on (e.g. Strageath; Frere and Wilkes 1989, 203). Yet it merits synthesis to see how frequent it was present, on what scale and to what end. Surviving evidence includes examples of indigenous-style artefacts, raising the question of the nature and meaning of such items. There has been useful consideration of the alloys used in the frontier zone though scientific analysis, with Dungworth's work (1996, 1997) identifying patterns linked to technology and cultural tradition; this is an area where further testing would be valuable. Melted lead is frequently found on fort sites, and seems to have been worked regularly - presumably because it was both easy to manipulate and frequently pressed into service as a handy patching system.

More work on pollution signatures around mines would be valuable to confirm the evidence and clarify its scale: the Leadhills/Wanlockhead and Siller Holes sources are prime candidates. Were any other sources used? What iron sources were utilised? Was it simply bog ore?

Synthesis of the evidence and renewed study of surviving material to consistent standards is required. Are slag assemblages from different forts essentially similar? How do they compare to indigenous iron-working?

Synthesis of non-ferrous metalworking evidence is needed; how does copper-alloy working relate to indigenous habits?

There has been no attempt to see if the lead can tell us more; for instance, to look at source via lead isotope analysis. Is there any evidence of pewter use?

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5.6.1 Ceramics

 

 


Pottery vessels made locally at the forts of Inveresk and Elginhaugh.©NMS

There has been growing evidence for the local production of pottery vessels (Breeze 1986 reviews the position to that date). In the first century, the army might make its own pottery. At Elginhaugh, for example, quite a high percentage of the coarseware, including mortaria, was produced locally on the basis of wasters, the mass of pottery, distinctive fabrics and the forms they are linked with, though no kilns were discovered. The sub-standard workmanship of some of the coarseware suggests that it was produced by the military themselves to compensate for deficiencies in long distance supply (Dore 2007). Several different civilian potters of continental or southern British origin, including a newly identified potter, were involved in the production of the mortaria (Hartley 2007). Camelon appears to have been one of the forts supplied with mortaria and presumably other pottery by the Elginhaugh workshop. Stamped mortaria made at Elginhaugh have also been identified at Carlisle (2), Castleford and Ribchester, which must indicate either troop movements or specific visits by military personnel. During the second century, some civilian potters moved north and worked outside some forts or became involved in what were to all intents and purposes, multi-potter workshops. One of these, Sarrius, had a workshop at Bearsden, and also had two other subsidiary workshops further south (Buckland, Hartley and Rigby 2001, 45-47; Breeze in prep). The three workshops, may or may not have functioned at the same time, but his major workshop outside Manduessedum in Warwickshire was active throughout all of their minor productions. There is evidence to suggest that the extent of distribution for potters working in Scotland varied from those with a very localised distribution to those with a quite extensive one eg Newstead (Hartley 1976). The multi-potter workshops at Elginhaugh, probably at Bearsden and putatively at Newstead indicate that pottery production was definitely linked in some way to the army.

The pottery from all sites in the Antonine occupation includes pottery brought into Scotland, as well as a greater or smaller amount of pottery made in Scotland (of which Inveresk Ware is the best-known example; Swan 1988). It was easier to recognize mortaria made in Scotland in the Antonine period because so many are stamped, but there is growing evidence, especially in view of the multi-potter workshop at Elginhaugh that something similar may be true for the Flavian occupation. This is more difficult to judge because fewer of the vessels involved were stamped. Most of the mortaria made at Elginhaugh were, of course, unstamped, but because there are so many preserved and there is a point to work from, it should be possible to trace the site's products at other locations in order to get some idea of what the distribution area was.

Of other ceramic material, Bailey's ongoing work on tile production along the Wall has identified distinctive and often unconscious "signatures" in keying patterns, allowing particular production sites to be identified. This has shown that some sites were supplying material to others (Bailey 2004), and the process merits fuller study.

Re-examination of older assemblages for evidence of local production is an important future area of research. How much distribution of local products is there beyond the immediate site? E.g. where does Inveresk Ware go? Scientific analysis might be of value here, as the analysis of Medieval redwares proved most beneficial in provenancing studies (Chenery et al. 2011).

Production and procurement patterns for brick and tile require further research.

Prospection for kiln sites (e.g. geophysical survey), and excavation should be encouraged.

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