a single event? – interesting Middle Iron Age pottery from Stanway

Yesterday (4th March), Trust archaeologists Adam Wightman and Stephen Benfield were both here at Roman Circus House and working on the report for our recent excavation at Stanway Quarry, near Colchester. Adam supervised the excavation and, yesterday, he was analysing the features by using our plans of the site and the feature recording sheets. Steve, who is the Trust’s pottery specialist, was studying a good group of Middle Iron Age pottery from the site. This group consists of a large number of fragments of pottery vessels, some of which have now been partially reconstructed by the Trust’s archaeology volunteers. The group of pottery all derives from one pit – pit F409. Pit F409 was, according to Adam, the stand-out pit excavated on the site, and it was excavated and recorded by Trust excavator Pauline, who also recovered all the pottery fragments.

F409 was a large round pit and it lay between the two enclosures on the site, with a small cluster of other features (a small pit and some probable tree-throw holes). Pit F409 was full of pottery fragments and it also produced lots of charcoal, burnt daub and burnt flints.  The group of pottery represents at least five jars or deep bowls, which were all locally made during the Middle Iron Age (400 BC-100 BC). These jars or deep bowls would have been used for the storage or cooking of food. We recovered quite a large amount of each vessel identified. The vessels are mostly made of sand-tempered pottery although some are vegetable- or flint-tempered. Some of the vessels are decorated with incised lines, and some of their rims have decorative fingertip-indentations. Some of the vessels are discoloured and must have been burned or scorched. Most interestingly, the vessel fragments seem to represent a very short period of deposition or even a single event, and not dumping in a rubbish-pit over a longer period of time. Steve says that the vessels could be considered an unusual group of pottery.

The pottery is from a remarkable site at Stanway, which includes the sites of two square, Middle Iron Age enclosures, one of which enclosed the site of a round-house while the other enclosed the site of a possible round-house. The site of a small, oval-shaped enclosure lay between the two square enclosures. The two square enclosures are part of the strung-out complex of important Iron Age funerary enclosures which we excavated nearby in 1970-97, of the well-known Stanway burials of the native aristocracy. Read more about our recent site on this web-site at www.thecolchesterarchaeologist.co.uk/?p=23904 .

The excavation was funded by Tarmac.

The images show the pottery study in progress; Steve holding the reconstructed part of one jar; another partially reconstructed vessel; and part of another partially reconstructed vessel decorated with incised lines and an indented rim, and discoloured by burning. From the site photo. archive, there are two record shots of the pit and the emerging fragments of pottery. [Image to follow.]

 

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pit F409 x

 

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