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Rossington Bridge Roman potteries

List Entry Summary

This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Rossington Bridge Roman potteries

List entry Number: 1004787

Location

Irregular shaped land parcel of 6.53ha centred at SK 63234 99970 on the N side of the River Tone, NE of Rossington Bridge.

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County:

District: Doncaster

District Type: Metropolitan Authority

Parish: Cantley

County:

District: Doncaster

District Type: Metropolitan Authority

Parish: Rossington

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 04-Sep-1975

Date of most recent amendment: 10-Jul-2017

Legacy System Information

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System: RSM - OCN

UID: SY 1108

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

Roman pottery thought to have been operated by the potter Sarrius from the AD 140s, producing an unusually wide range of pottery types and forms mainly for the Roman army, the site surviving as extensive buried deposits.

Reasons for Designation

Rossington Bridge Roman potteries is scheduled for the following principal reasons: * Period, Rarity: as a Roman pottery associated with the potter Sarrius (active AD 135-170) who also produced pottery from the Mancetter-Hartshill area of Warwickshire and near Bearsdon in the western sector of the Antonine Wall in Scotland; * Survival, Potential: the survival of extensive archaeological remains across the monument, not just kiln sites, but spreads of pottery waste representing an unusually wide range of pottery types, ditched enclosures and other features and deposits.

History

Roman pottery production in Britain started in AD 40-50, soon after the Roman conquest and continued into the C5. The peak of production was during the C2, after which the number of production centres began to diminish. Pottery made in Britain was supplemented by a wide range of ceramics imported into Britain from elsewhere in the Roman Empire. Early examples of Roman potteries are concentrated in the S and E, principally in the Nene Valley and Kent areas. In the C2, potteries became more widespread. All of the nearly 400 known potteries in England are located with ready access to markets, and all are situated close to necessary raw materials such as suitable clay, water and fuel. Potteries are often found in clusters, in both urban and rural areas. Although there was some variation throughout the country, all Roman potteries broadly included the same elements: kiln drying chambers and associated structures such as worksheds, preparation floors, stores and sometimes accommodation for the workforce. Some potteries had fewer than five kilns, others upwards of 35. Some potteries formed parts of larger industrial complexes accommodating other crafts with similar technological needs, such as iron smelting. Roman pottery making sites in Britain provide important information about the technology of pottery manufacture and its development and, more generally, the economic structure of the Roman province. They also offer scope for understanding trade patterns and how they related to the political and military situation.

In late 1956, a 5.7m wide trench was cut for a water main leading to the pumping station 325m NE of Rossington Bridge. This uncovered large quantities of Roman pottery and was notified to Doncaster Museum. Between 1957 and 1961, J R Lidster (the museum's Keeper of Antiquities) carried out a series of excavations, which although poorly recorded, identified five pottery kilns, a domestic oven and other evidence of extensive occupation. In 1959 a proton magnetometer survey was carried out at the site identifying 10 geophysical anomalies interpreted as kilns, three of which were subsequently confirmed by excavation, the others being left unexcavated. In 1963-5 the area surveyed by geophysics was extended identifying a further 21 anomalies, at least ten interpreted as additional kilns. These archaeological investigations were not written up for publication immediately; however they led to an area being scheduled in 1975. The investigations, along with the findings of a re-examination of the surviving site archive and finds collection, were finally published in 2001 (Buckland et al, 2001). Unfortunately, because of deficiencies in the surviving records, the extent and location of the 1963-5 geophysical survey and thus the location of at least 10 unexcavated kilns remained open to interpretation. It is most likely that these are located to the E of the top of a steep scarp, mainly SW of an electricity pylon at SK6329299966, this interpretation being supported by the findings of a 2015 geophysical survey (see below). However an alternative interpretation would place them to the W of the water pipeline, possibly extending beyond the SW boundary of the scheduled monument. Two further Roman kilns were excavated in 1960 by a local amateur archaeologist, W Ingram, somewhere to the S of the River Tone near Rossington Bridge Farm: however the site of these kilns is not known and they are not included in the scheduling which is confined to the N of the River Tone.

In 2015, a topographic and geophysical survey was carried out by Wessex Archaeology, the raw data being analysed using more advanced software by Historic England in 2016. This identified a number of anomalies across the northern two thirds of the scheduled monument which were interpreted as representing a range of archaeological remains including further probable kiln sites, ditched enclosures and other features. The survey also identified a cluster of five anomalies on the S side of the electricity pylon that appear to match kilns identified by geophysics in 1963-5.

In the C2, the area SE of Doncaster developed into an important pottery production centre, the Rossington Bridge pottery probably being the most significant. Evidence suggests that this was established by a potter named Sarrius sometime between AD 140 and 150. Sarrius, the most prolific potter producing stamped mortaria in C2 Britain (active between AD 135 and 170), had previously established works in the Mancetter-Hartshill area of Warwickshire and subsequent to Rossington, also set up a pottery in Scotland near Bearsden in the western sector of the Antonine Wall. Finds from Rossington suggest that Sarrius had two deputies identified by stamps naming Setibogius and Secundua. Although it is clear that the main market for the Rossington Bridge Pottery was the Roman army, it is suggested that the pottery was a private entrepreneurial business, established at the northern limits of the territory administered by the Coriltauvi tribe.

Details

PRINCIPAL ELEMENTS: buried remains of Roman pottery kilns together with other related structures and deposits of pottery production waste products, along with remains of Roman settlement activity.

DESCRIPTION: Roman remains survive as buried deposits which are not expressed as upstanding earthworks, however occasional pottery sherds can be identified in areas of ground disturbance.

The northern two thirds of the scheduled monument is gently-sloping S-facing land which is raised up from the level of the river floodplain. The southernmost corner is part of the river floodplain with land rising steeply up as a scarp to the N and more gently to the NW. It is possible that the steep scarp represents the eroded remains of a Roman quarry face for clay extraction.

The excavations showed that the kilns are typically approximately 1m in diameter internally, being clay lined pits each linked to a larger stoke hole via short, horizontal flues. Kilns typically retain deposits of charcoal, broken fragments of pottery and fired fragments from the temporary kiln covers formed from turf, along with fired clay pedestals and bars upon which the unfired pots would have been stacked within the kiln. Of the approximately 20 kilns identified in the archaeological investigations in 1956-65, only 6 were excavated, the remainder are considered to remain in situ. The 2015 geophysical survey also suggests the in situ survival of further kilns in the northern part of the monument. Archaeological investigations have not establish the limits of the site so it is possible that further kilns survive in situ beyond the boundaries of the monument. Excavation also uncovered pebble surfaces, the possible remains of a clamp (bonfire sealed with turfs) used for firing black burnished ware, along with other structures represented by stake holes. Further unexcavated examples of similar features are expected to survive within (and perhaps beyond) the area of the monument.

Products of the pottery uncovered in the excavations were especially wide ranging including a wide variety of grey wares (mainly cooking pots), along with finer black burnished wares and fine, decorated Parisian tablewares. Some pottery is wheel-thrown, some is fully hand-made. Further deposits of such pottery are considered to survive as buried deposits within the area of the scheduling. Other finds from the site included remains of at least one human inhumation along with evidence of settlement activity, from before and after the operation of the pottery. Finds of obviously imported pottery including Samian suggest that the site developed into a relatively high status domestic settlement at the end of the C2; further similar unexcavated material is considered to survive within the scheduled monument. The excavations also uncovered quantities of organic material including leather and timber items: unexcavated, waterlogged areas are considered to retain further such organic Roman period remains. The excavations also identified timber piles in the bed of the river identified as marking the river crossing of the Lincoln to Doncaster Roman road. It is thought that these were left in situ by the excavation and will survive as buried remains. The 2015 geophysical survey also identified features interpreted as representing Roman period enclosures and associated remains across the northern two thirds of the monument.

EXTENT OF SCHEDULING: the northern boundary follows a fence line immediately south of a track way marked by the Ordnance Survey. Most of the western boundary is defined by the limits of an area of housing and their gardens, before cutting across to the northern bank of the Mother Drain which forms most of the southern boundary. The eastern boundary follows a straight line between the Mother Drain and the track way which marks the northern boundary.

EXCLUSIONS: fence and gate posts; electricity power lines, their pylons and poles; water and feeding troughs are all excluded from the scheduling however the ground beneath all of these features is included in the designation.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
P.C.Buckland, K.F.Hartley & V.Rigby, Roman Pottery Kilns at Rossington Bridge, Excavations 1956-1961, (2001)
Patrick, Ottaway, Roman Yorkshire, (2013), 199-201
Other
"Finningley and Rossington Regeneration Route Scheme FARRRS Phase 2, Doncaster, Yorkshire: Detailed Topographic, Gradiometer and Resistivity Survey Report" Wessex Archaeology report for Doncaster MBC (2015)
"Reassessment of a magnetometer survey over scheduled monument NHLE1004787 at Rossington, Doncaster" Historic England (2016)

National Grid Reference: SK6327599956

Map

Map
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End of official listing