Issue: Continental and Mediterranean imports to Atlantic Britain and Ireland, AD 400--800

Publication Type
Abstract Integrated discussion of the finds of imported pottery and glass in Atlantic Britain and Ireland in the period AD400--800, covering their provenance, typology, dating and distribution, as well as their function in society. The text is supplemented by an interactive Web-based database giving details of all finds, including their stratigraphic context, which is to be updated as new finds occur. The author contends that two successive trading systems were involved. The first brought Late Roman amphorae (LR1--4) and fine red-slipped tablewares from the eastern Mediterranean and north Africa in a restricted period from the late-fifth to mid-sixth centuries. The second system brought glass vessels, finewares and coarsewares from western France in the later-sixth and seventh centuries. It is argued that both trading systems were sustained rather than haphazard, but neither seems to have been fully commercial market trading. The Mediterranean trading system shows direct links with Byzantium, and it is suggested that there was Imperial involvement, perhaps centred on the acquisition of tin, lead and silver from mines in southwest England. The later Continental system also has peculiarities which suggest the involvement of Merovingian elites. Material from almost 150 sites is listed, including around 370 Mediterranean and 600 Continental pottery or glass vessels. A new classification of the glass is presented, which it is claimed will enable more accurate dating of sites. Scientific analysis suggests that the Continental coarsewares were used as transport containers for luxury goods such as purple dyes. Novel methods of analysing small assemblages are introduced, based on taphonomic study of the finds from key sites. An analysis of the characteristics of all the sites on which imports are found suggests that the main sites were royal, and that the elites on these sites controlled the redistribution of exotic luxury goods to their client sites in order to bolster their social position. The nature of the return trade is unclear, but metals and slaves are likely to have been the major goods traded. Includes French and German summaries, and
Author Ewan Campbell
Editor Ewan Campbell
Publisher Council for British Archaeology
Year of Publication 2007
Volume 157
Number of Pages: 183
ISBN 9781902771731
Figure/Plate/Table/Ref Figure:    Plate:    Table:    Ref:
Source The British & Irish Archaeological Bibliography (BIAB)
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relational database with detailed catalogue of sites and import groups, including eleven tables, nine appendices, thirteen database files and two zipped GIS shapefiles