South Yorkshire / North Derbyshire Medieval Ceramics Reference Collection

Chris Cumberpatch, 2004

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Brackenfield type ware.

The South Yorkshire and north Derbyshire regional medieval ceramics reference collection is one of the results of the review of medieval pottery studies in England undertaken by Maureen Mellor on behalf of the Medieval Pottery Research Group and English Heritage in the early 1990s (Mellor 1994). The project was funded by English Heritage, managed by Archaeological Services (WYAS) and undertaken by Dr Chris Cumberpatch, with assistance from Dr. D. Williams, Dr. N. Walsh and Dr. M. Hughes. Assistance was given by museum and archaeological curators across the region, by the Derbyshire Archaeological Society and the Rotherham Archaeological Society and by a number of archaeological units and contractors working in the region.

The project as a whole consists of a number of elements:

  • The on-line database hosted by the Archaeology Data Service
  • The physical reference collection curated by Weston Park Museum
  • A series of articles describing specific potteries and their products, published in print or on-line

The on-line database consists of descriptive information, including photographs covering medieval and post-medieval pottery from the county of South Yorkshire and the northern part of Derbyshire from a line drawn approximately between Stone, Uttoxeter and Derby, northward.

The information in the database is supported by the full text of the petrological and chemical analyses undertaken by D. Williams and Dr. N. Walsh with the interpretative report provided by Dr. M. Hughes. In addition, extensive articles cover the sites of Brackenfield near Chesterfield and Frenchgate in Doncaster as well as a more wide ranging review of the evidence for pottery production in and around Rawmarsh, now a suburb of Rotherham in South Yorkshire. The latter includes details of the sites of Rawmarsh and Firsby Hall Farm near Conisbrough, two of the best known sources of the widespread later medieval and early post-medieval pottery known as Coal Measures ware or South Yorkshire Gritty ware. An appendix to this report by Dr. A. Vince summarises the results of a number of programmes of scientific analysis.

The physical reference collection consists of samples of pottery of different types, organised according to the sources and production sites (where known) and by the area of occurrence where not. The collection is available for viewing by appointment with the Keeper of Archaeology, Weston Park Museum, Western Park, Western Bank, Sheffield. It should be noted that the collection is designed for reference after consultation of the on-line database and the publications referenced therein and should be used to resolve outstanding problems of identification. It is not designed as a teaching collection and should not be used as such.

Reports to be published in print journals include accounts of the potteries at Burley Hill and King Street, Duffield in Derbyshire (to be published in Medieval Ceramics in 2005) and a broader overview of pottery production in Derbyshire, to be published in the Derbyshire Archaeological Journal in 2004.

The project as a whole is intended as a statement of the position of medieval pottery research in the region to the end of 2003. It is hoped that as further work on medieval sites takes place, it will be possible to use the collection and the associated texts as a basis for further specific studies of newly discovered sites and as the raw material for synthesis and interpretation.