Mancetter-Hartshill Roman Pottery Kilns Archive Project

K.F. Hartley, Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service, 2020

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K.F. Hartley, Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service (2020) Mancetter-Hartshill Roman Pottery Kilns Archive Project [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor]

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Mancetter-Hartshill Roman Pottery Kilns Archive Project

The known kilns at Mancetter and Hartshill, Warwickshire, extend for more than two miles between the River Anker and Watling Street. Fieldwalking evidence indicates that they represent the core of an industry that extends into Leicestershire (Hartley and Tomber 2006), on the other side of Watling Street. The kilns are one element of the Roman settlement, which originated in the Claudio-Neronian period with the establishment of a fort to the west of the River Anker on the site of modern Mancetter (NHLE 1005736). Other key elements are the small, partly defended town of Manduessedum and a villa (NHLE 1017585).

The kilns, and associated features, represent one of the largest known industrial complexes excavated in Roman Britain, and provide evidence for the production of mortaria, fine and coarse ware pottery, and glass. Production was undertaken on a large scale and appears to have been continuous from the beginning of the 2nd to the 4th century. The mortaria production is of national significance. Mancetter-Hartshill mortaria are known to have been widely distributed, across the Midlands and to northern Britain, so are represented in many published excavation reports and museum collections. During the 2nd century AD the mortaria were often stamped; Kay Hartley has identified 65 individual potters associated with this industry. The stamps provide a rare and valuable insight into the origins and movements of individual artisans working in Roman Britain. The evidence for small-scale glass production in the mid-2nd century is also of note.

The 24 years between Kay Hartley’s 1960 excavation at Hartshill and Warwickshire Museum’s 1983-4 excavations at Mancetter Cherry Tree Farm saw huge changes in recording methodologies, for excavation and post excavation. Kay Hartley’s excavations at Hartshill in the early 1960s were undertaken in advance of quarrying and focussed on individual kiln structures. The late 1960s and 1970s excavations at Mancetter Broad Close adopted an open-area approach, recording associated features such as roads, wells, a corn drier, a glass furnace and a variety of gullies. These combined Mancetter-Hartshill excavations recovered the remains of at least 50 kilns, of various types and levels of preservation. The subsequent excavations at Mancetter Cherry Tree Farm, led by Martin Jones, only examined areas directly affected by pipeline laying, so were limited in extent. These revealed a further seven kilns and associated features within a possible enclosure.

Then, in 1995, John Chadderton, with Paul Booth and Jerry Evans, detailed the many complex issues presented by the combined archive of all this fieldwork (HE7725_intro_Chadderton-report). His proposed project design was also informed by two previous assessments, by Claire Halpin (1990) and Jane Timby (1992). It is estimated that there are up to 40,000 sherds of mortaria from all the sites. The mortarium assemblage from Hartshill and Mancetter Broad Close was recorded by Kay Hartley and Yvonne Boutwood, and the assemblage from Mancetter Cherry Tree Farm by Rowan Ferguson. A mortarium type series was produced. This, however, will need revision given the length of time that has elapsed, the well-dated groups that have subsequently been published elsewhere, and the extent to which Kay Hartley will have consequently re-assessed and refined her methodology and conclusions. The coarse wares were fully assessed; 69,153 sherds were recovered from the combined excavations, the majority being kiln products. This assemblage was recorded by Paul Booth, who produced an illustrated type series of forms by fabric. Other finds from Kay Hartley’s excavations include kiln furniture, coins, brooches, iron, lead, industrial waste, glass, querns, tile, wooden objects, carbonised grain, animal bone, worked bone, and beetle and plant remains. Finds from Mancetter Cherry Tree Farm included Roman tile and a handful of copper alloy, iron and flint artefacts.


Chadderton, J, 1995 Mancetter-Hartshill archaeological excavations 1960-1984: publication proposal, Warwickshire County Council Libraries and Heritage, January 1995 Evans, J, and Hurst, D, 2019 Mancetter-Hartshill Roman pottery kilns excavation archive (1960-84): creation of a digital archive resource – audit and updated project design, Worcestershire Archaeology

Halpin, C, 1990 Mancetter-Hartshill post-excavation progress report, prepared for English Heritage

Hartley, K F, 1973 The kilns at Mancetter and Hartshill, Warwickshire, in A Detsicas (ed), Current research in Romano-British coarse pottery, CBA Res Rep 10, 143-7

Hartley, K F and Tomber, R, 2006 A mortarium bibliography for Roman Britain, Journal for Roman pottery Studies, 13, 73-80

Swan , V G, 1984 The pottery kilns of Roman Britain, RCHM Supp Ser, 5

Timby, J, 1992 Mancetter-Hartshill post-excavation assessment, prepared for English Heritage

image - HE7725_MH_photo_box1_sh1_w1_02 'Kay Hartley excavating at Mancetter Broad Close' copyright of Warwickshire County Councill

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